Creature vs. Creature: Roger Federer on Surreal-Serving Sunday
Seems like old times...Roger Federer vs. Andy Roddick in the finals at Wimbledon. Wasn’t it just yesterday?
Actually, it was 2004 and 2005 when Roddick last stood across the net from Federer on Championship Sunday, ready to do battle on the war-ravaged lawns at Wimbledon.
In the 2004 Wimbledon final, Roddick won the first set and then lost the next three, falling 6-4, 5-7, 6-7, 4-6 to Federer. The next year he lost in straight sets, 2-6, 6-7, 4-6.
In 2004 and 2005, Federer was at his peak, playing tennis on a plane no one else could reach—certainly not Roddick, who never quit trying but whose movement was awkward in comparison, always a step slower than his classic opponent across the net.
But 2009 is a different year with more seasoned rivals who have faced each other 20 times in their long careers. Federer currently leads the series by an 18-2 margin.
Their battles have often been legendary but predictable, with the Swiss maestro most often dominating his American counterpart in spectacular fashion...
Both have progressed through to the finals playing superlative tennis. Roger’s defeat of Tommy Haas was very impressive, as was Roddick’s win over Andy Murray. Both deserve to be standing on final Sunday.
The question remains—who will win on Sunday, deserving or not?
Federer is currently playing tennis as he did in his earlier highly successful years from 2004 to 2007. That he dipped a bit in 2008 only makes his rise to the top again seem more remarkable.
His demeanor without the presence of his greatest nemesis Rafael Nadal has been remarkably calm and self-assured.
Whether that has to do with the fact that Roger took the French Open Championship for the first time in 2009 or whether the certainty that he would not have to face Nadal—grants him the freedom to fire away. No one, not even Federer, can say for sure.
The fact is that Roger is playing superb tennis and a victory on Sunday will give him 15 grand slam titles and allow him to surpass Pete Sampras’ record of 14 grand slam wins. Currently Roger is tied with Sampras at 14 each.
The records just keep falling as Federer reaches another slam final. They will continue to accrue throughout the rest of his career, especially if he regains the number one ranking by winning the championship on Sunday.
Will Win If
To say that Federer understands what it takes to defeat Roddick is so far an understatement it hardly bears mentioning.
But it is the primary factor in this match. Roger knows the Roddick game and each and every movement from Roddick dictates Federer’s response. The mental edge goes to Federer.
Roger must serve well and give Roddick no opportunities to break his own serve. Federer must also return well against the blistering pace of the Roddick serve just as he has always done in defeating Andy.
Federer must also precise in firing passing shots by Roddick whose forays into the net will be frequent. It will be Andy’s game plan to disrupt the Federer rhythm.
Will Lose If
Roddick is a better, fitter player, than he has been in recent years. His desire to win has never been suspect. Now he has more game to go with his hunger to win this Championship that has always eluded him.
He will have to overcome Roger Federer to get there just as he needed to do in the past.
Roger’s form and confidence have returned in full measure and the only thing that could cause Federer to lose is if he does not play to the level of his ability.
History will repeat itself in the final. No one intuits the movement and game plan of his opponent as consistently as Federer.
As much as Roddick wants to win—so does Federer. What Roger wants—most of the time—Roger gets.
Shots To Look For
Look for Roger to surpass Roddick in aces in this match.
Also watch for the Swiss master to zero in on the Roddick serve and return against the scorching pace in equal and often surpassing measure.
Federer will win. Does he do it in straight sets? Yes, if he wins the opening set. There is a chance he does not win the opening set, in which case he will nonetheless pull out a hard-fought contest.
Roddick will not go quietly because he has fought too hard to get here. He will not be content just to have made it to the finals because he has been there—done that.
No doubt about it—Roddick wants this victory and he will work hard. In the end, though, he just does not have the arsenal to compete against Federer, the greatest man so far to have wielded a tennis racket...
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