With the dust settled in London, it is only right that Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer remain standing for a fateful dance.
In what has been another upset-laden tournament, the 2014 iteration of Wimbledon fully displayed the winds of change up until Day 11, when the old guards put any end to the talk that their era had since passed.
Djokovic and Federer, tasked with moving past younger, red-hot and upset-minded challengers, rose to the occasion on Friday to set up the poetic finals matchup.
|No. 1 Novak Djokovic def. No. 11 Grigor Dimitrov||6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(7)|
|No. 4 Roger Federer def. No. 8 Milos Raonic||6-4, 6-4, 6-4|
Djokovic kicked off the action on Friday by booking his third trip in four years to the final in London with a four-set thriller over Grigor Dimitrov.
Who wins the final?
Knowing full well that the Bulgarian star was red-hot on grass and entering the semifinal after an upset over Andy Murray, the No. 1 player in the world came out aggressive and never looked back.
Djokovic played the best set of the tournament to start things off—the first set took 27 minutes and saw him fire off five aces and eight winners—and subsequently cruised to victory.
Of course, the triumph did not come without slight hiccups. Dimitrov upped the ante in the second set, which flustered Djokovic's return game. As Brad Gilbert of ESPN notes, the Bulgarian sensation improved on the little details, which allowed him to draw even with the No. 1 seed:
The slice and court position the last 5 games have changed this match around for Showtime Dimitrov— Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) July 4, 2014
But as the No. 1 seed playing in his 23rd career semifinal should, Djokovic adapted and took care of business the rest of the way en route to an entertaining win, as Wimbledon illustrates:
For as much as Djokovic appeared sluggish at times, it's important to note his opposition was not exactly playing like a No. 13 seed throughout the proceedings in London.
On Friday, neither was Federer—to say the least.
Tasked with moving past 23-year-old upstart Milos Raonic—who had moved past notable names like No. 10 seed Kei Nishikori (4-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-3) and Nick Kyrgios (7-6, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6) to reach the semifinal—Federer was calm, cool and collected in his sheer dominance.
Wimbledon put the beatdown into analytical and visual form quite well:
To be fair, Raonic looked quite shaky in what was his first venture past the quarterfinal stage of a Grand Slam. Add in facing a legend who had disposed of No. 23 seed Tommy Robredo (6-1, 6-4, 6-4) and No. 5 seed Stan Wawrinka (3-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-4), among others, and it's a miracle the Canadian played as well as he did.
As for Federer, the final marks a career milestone that only further etches his name into the record books, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Roger Federer advances to 9th career Wimbledon final (most all-time). At 32, he's oldest GS finalist since Andre Agassi (2005 US Open).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 4, 2014
It's a semifinals round both Dimitrov and Raonic can learn plenty from, but the focus now shifts to two old rivals who have not danced in a final at a Grand Slam since 2007, instead usually battling in semifinals matches.
"It's always great. We always play good matches against each other," said Federer of his looming finals match, per Caroline Cheese of Wimbledon.com. "Novak is a great champion and he's been around a long time. He's used to these occasions as well, he knows how to get it done. So I hope it's going to be a good match."
Federer doesn't have to hope—the match will prove to be another classic. He holds an 18-16 head-to-head advantage over Djokovic and has won two of their three encounters this season, but anything can happen under the spotlight of the final in London.
While perhaps not a passing-of-the-torch moment some may have hoped for, Wimbledon's final salvo features two legends once again in each other's way, but this time with everything hanging in the balance.