After a wild 2014 edition of the Paribas Open from Indian Wells in California, the final of the men’s tournament has come down to a battle between No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic and No. 7 seed Roger Federer.
These familiar foes will do battle once again for a championship.
After beating John Isner in the semifinals, Djokovic told Howard Bryant of ESPN.com about his matchup with Federer:
It's always tense. It's always emotional. It's always close. I don't think that especially in the last 15 matches we played against each other that there was a clear favorite, I would say. So, we played a lot of great, great matches in Grand Slams and Masters Series events and tournaments. I look forward to it. It's always challenge in every way to win against Roger.
Djokovic and Federer have met 32 times over their careers, and Federer currently leads the all-time series 17–15, according to ATPWorldTour.com. The two men met last in February’s Dubai tournament, and it was Federer who won the event and now carries momentum into Indian Wells.
This rematch should be one for the ages. Here is all the vital viewing information and a preview of the marquee final.
Where: Indian Wells, Calif.
When: Sunday, March 16 at 5 p.m. ET
Watch: ESPN 2
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Federer’s Keys to Victory
Roger Federer is a perennial powerhouse on the sport’s top tour, but he has struggled with consistency as he has gotten older (32 years old). During that time, though, he has always stayed in contention using his experience and court I.Q.
After over 15 years at the professional level, Federer has been in every situation imaginable and has faced all different kinds of adversity. While his speed may have slowed over his career, his ability to move with fluidity along the baseline is second to none.
Federer must maximize his speed and not waste any motion against Djokovic on Sunday.
Djokovic will face Federer for 33rd time. Federer leads 17-15, 10-8 outdoor hard, 5-4 in US. Tied 4-4 in finals. Djokovic won only mtg here.— Tennis View Magazine (@TennisViewMag) March 15, 2014
Djoker has been great over the last four seasons, but Federer has the power on the serve and in the return game to keep his challenger off balance long enough to steal the victory.
As long as Federer gets his backhand working early and implements the drop shot—both will keep Djokovic guessing—the Swiss star will have the chance to gain another win from one of his greatest rivals.
Djokovic’s Key to Victory
Djokovic is one of the top players in the world and is the favorite heading in Sunday’s final.
Using an incredibly aggressive and unpredictable approach at the baseline, Djokovic will attack Federer with his heavy serve and will defend his foe’s precise shooting with some of the best forehand and backhand return abilities on tour.
As well as Djoker has played, Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times showed how close the No. 2 seed came to losing in the previous round:
Novak Djokovic overcomes a big hiccup to beat John Isner 7-5, 6-7(2), 6-1. He'll play Federer in a blockbuster final tomorrow. #BNPPO14— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) March 15, 2014
Djokovic’s best shot is his backhand. With the height and length to get to places on the court most players would quit on, the accuracy and power of the No. 2 seed’s backhand makes it one of the most dangerous shots on tour today.
If Djoker wants to beat Federer, he must withstand the challenger’s initial onslaught and make the most of his chances to rack up points throughout the match.
Who ya got?
Prediction: Djokovic defeats Federer
As well as Federer has played to start the 2014 season, Djokovic will shine on the hard courts of Indian Wells and regain some of the momentum he lost with an inconsistent first two months.
The hope from fans is that this will be an intense battle that goes the full three sets. The longer this match goes on, the more the conditioning and youth of Djokovic will become a factor in the eventual outcome.
Tennis fans want an on-court war, and these two men’s stars will be happy to oblige.