Let's be honest, folks—once defending champ Andy Murray and master of the clay Rafael Nadal were eliminated, the final at Wimbledon we all wanted to see was Novak Djokovic facing Roger Federer.
And that's the final we'll get to see.
Djokovic reached the final with a hard-fought semifinal triumph over Grigor Dimitrov, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (9-7). Federer advanced with a little less adversity, brushing aside Milos Raonic, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
Now, these two titans of the men's game will meet in a final that will mean so much to both of them. Let's break it down.
|Sunday, July 6||9 a.m.||Novak Djokovic vs. Roger Federer||ESPN|
The final can also be streamed on WatchESPN and the WatchESPN app.
For both players, the stakes couldn't be higher. Djokovic would move back to No. 1 in the rankings with a win and would earn his first Grand Slam title of the year. For a player who has won at least one Grand Slam in the previous three years and has captured six in total (but just one at Wimbledon), the win would put him back atop the men's game.
But for Roger Federer, an eighth Wimbledon title would make him the most successful player in the tournament's history, surpassing Pete Sampras and William Renshaw (seven Wimbledon titles each). He continues to amaze, as this tidbit from ESPN Stats & Info proves:
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
A win at Wimbledon would also be Federer's first title since the 2012 Wimbledon tournament, as the game's most decorated player has fallen behind the world's elite at this stage in his career.
To put that in perspective, since Federer's 2012 conquest at Wimbledon, Nadal has won three titles, Murray has won two and Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka have one apiece. Thus far at Wimbledon this year, however, Federer has proved that the game has not passed him by.
Far from it, in fact. Joe Posnanski of NBC Sports perfectly summed up Federer's win over Raonic:
Great fighters can throw sharp punches until the day they die. Federer will always know how to beat nervous young sluggers.— Joe Posnanski (@JPosnanski) July 4, 2014
But Djokovic is no young slugger. Yes, Federer is 18-16 all time against Djokovic. Yes, he won the last time the two met at a Grand Slam, the 2012 semifinals at Wimbledon. Yes, he's 2-1 against Djokovic this season.
But Djokovic is also 6-4 against Federer since 2012. Since 2011, he's won five Grand Slam titles to Federer's one. And whereas Federer is in the twilight of his career, Djokovic is in his prime.
Truly, this one is tough to call. Federer has been nothing short of brilliant at this tournament, losing just one set. He coolly and calmly picked Raonic apart. But there's something about Djokovic's resilience and conditioning that makes him so hard to beat. The man never relinquishes, and you wonder if Federer will have the legs to match Djokovic if this becomes a taxing five-set match.
So boil it down, and you are pitting Federer's history at Wimbledon and current form against Djokovic's hunger and (at this point in their careers) superior talent. It should be a thriller. It should be a fight. And in the fifth set, with both players running on fumes, Djokovic will have just a little more left in the tank to pull out the victory.
And you won't want to miss a second of it.