Two of the best tennis players in the world will battle in the 2014 Wimbledon final on Sunday, a competition that will likely come down to the wire.
Novak Djokovic has impressed to this point as the No. 1 seed in the tournament. He has dropped a few sets, but he has the mentality of a champion and refuses to give up when he is down.
Things will get tougher in the final against Roger Federer, who has won this event seven times in his career and is coming off an impressive straight-sets victory over Milos Raonic in the semifinals.
It would not be surprising to see either superstar add another Grand Slam title to their resumes, but there are a few key factors that will decide the upcoming match. These statistics will be vital to both players in the star-studded final.
Neither player wants to lose a serve in this match because they know that this could signify the end of the set. This might put the advantage to Federer, who has been simply lights out in this tournament, according to ESPN Tennis:
Craig O'Shannessy of ATPWorldTour.com provides a specific example of where the Swiss star was just unstoppable in the semifinals:
However, success in this match will have more to do than just getting aces and succeeding on the first serve. It will also be important to come through on the second serve.
Djokovic is one of the best in the world at coming after opponents on the second serve. Grigor Dimitrov found this out firsthand when his success rate dropped from 82 percent to 45 percent after the first serve in the semifinals.
Meanwhile, Federer has been unstoppable on the second serve, winning at least 68 percent of these points in five of his six matches. If he has anywhere near this much success, Djokovic will have a hard time winning any games.
Still, this is a skill that both competitors have excelled at in their careers. This season, the duo ranks first and second in the world, both winning 58 percent of these points.
The person who can actually take advantage of misses and force breaks through the second serve will have a big boost in this contest.
Break Points Won
Djokovic has had a difficult run through this tournament, but he keeps finding ways to win by coming through in the important points.
He won two tiebreaks in the semifinals against Dimitrov, one of which in a come-from-behind effort facing multiple set points. He also did a better job of finishing off break points, winning three of six attempts in the semifinals after going just 7-of-19 in the same situations against Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals.
The Serbian explained his ability to fight through tough situations on ATPWorldTour.com:
I have been going through some tough matches during this tournament. But there is a reason for me going through these experiences and fighting through it. I'm going to try to use that experience in a positive way and encourage myself to get a title.
It's important when you lose a set or two sets to be able to bounce back and recover from that. I've done that, and that's a positive that I'm taking from these matches.
This skill will be vital against Federer, who also has plenty of experience in pulling out the important points.
In the last three matches between these two superstars, Djokovic has only converted three of 14 break points. Unsurprisingly, Federer has won two of these three contests.
Even when up against the ropes, neither player will give up a game until the very end. It is important for both players to find ways to finish things off when there is a chance to beat the other's serve.
Federer has used different strategies to be successful over the years, but this season has seen him be much more aggressive at the net.
Carl Bialik of FiveThirtyEight breaks down the increase of serve-and-volley attempts with his new coach:
This year, though, Federer is being coached by Stefan Edberg, the Swede who won six Grand Slam titles behind the strength of his net game, among the best of all time. The tennis media predicted the Fedberg partnership, as it’s sometimes called, would produce some vintage Federer play. And so far at Wimbledon, Fedberg has delivered.
Federer, at age 32, is back on the attack, though not as relentlessly as he was at 21. He has served and volleyed on 23 percent of his service points. That’s less than half his rate back in 2003. But it’s nearly seven times his rate at its nadir in 2011, and double his rate from last year, when he was coached by another ex-net-rusher, Paul Annacone.
The net play seemed to cause problems for Djokovic against Dimitrov, as noted by former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash:
Dimitrov went 35-of-48 at the net in the semifinals, a mark that Federer is capable of matching and possibly besting in the finals.
Djokovic will have to find a way to cut down on this by driving hard shots back on the line and not letting his opponent even take a chance at the net. If he does, he will have to succeed with his lob shots to make Federer pay.
On the other hand, the top seed also can make plays at the net to match the action in this one. If he can be more successful moving forward in this match, he will have a chance to come away with his second Wimbledon title.
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