There was a point during the second week of Wimbledon that the era of the “Big Four” looked as though it was about to come crashing down.
The defending champion Andy Murray and French Open champion Rafael Nadal were both dumped out by exciting young players before the semi-final stages, while in their respective quarter-finals, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer were trailing to their opponents too.
The latter two players managed to wrestle back the initiative and go on to win their matches; they went on to win their semi-finals as well, and they will meet in the Wimbledon men’s final at the All England Club.
But with a host of young players emerging in the world of men’s tennis, clashes between these longstanding foes could be in short supply in years to come. So sit back and enjoy what promises to be a wonderful final, because there are signs that the likes of Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray could be overhauled by some prodigious youngsters.
Here’s your schedule for the men’s final day at Wimbledon, a look at both men taking part and a prediction as to which player will emerge victorious come Sunday evening.
|Players (Seedings)||Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Roger Federer (4)|
|Date||6 July 2014|
|Time||2 p.m. BST|
|Venue||All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon|
A seven-time Wimbledon winner, Federer is well-acquainted with big matches on the iconic Centre Court. The 32-year-old has rolled back the years in this tournament so far, putting a host of younger upstarts to the sword with his mercurial touch and unflappable composure.
It’ll be wonderful to see the Swiss maestro take to the court for a Grand Slam final once again, for as Federer enters the twilight of his career, there may not be many more. Something noted here by 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
A win here would be history-making for Federer. An eighth title would make him the most decorated singles champion in the history of the All England Club, surpassing both Pete Sampras and William Renshaw who both currently have seven apiece too. You can bet the potential of being dubbed with that particular mantle will be Federer’s main source of motivation as he and Djokovic take to the grass.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner told Sam Sheringham of BBC Sport he feels fresh and ready to go ahead of the final, that after his easing past Milos Raonic, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4:
It was a perfect result before a big match in the final. I feel energised and eager to play. It’s really important for me to stay aggressive against him, and especially here at Wimbledon.
Novak can hurt you down the line or cross-court on both sides. His forehand, his serve, his movement clearly is what stands out the most at the moment. He’s really been able to improve that and make it rock solid.
But the Serb is a formidable opponent and one whom Federer has never faced before at SW19. The Swiss does hold a slender advantage in their all-time head-to-head, though, as noted here by Tom Fordyce of the BBC:
Nine Wimbledon semi-finals for Roger Federer, nine Wimbledon semi-final wins. Never before met Djokovic in final here. 18-16 head to head— tomfordyce (@tomfordyce) July 4, 2014
While Federer’s path to the final has been typically effortless, Djokovic has had to overcome some real stern tests to earn a coveted spot in the last two. In his semi-final, the six-time Grand Slam winner was on the brink of a fifth-set decider when Grigor Dimitrov had three set points, but Djokovic dug in and salvaged the tie-break, emerging as winner in four sets.
Semi-finals have never been a problem for Djokovic, though. The current world No. 2 will be the first to admit that he’s not performed to his best in Grand Slam finals as of late, and he’ll be looking to halt a five-match losing streak in them, something noted here by Tennis View Magazine’s Chris Skelton:
Djokovic is 2-7 in major finals outside the Australian Open (lost last five).— Chris Skelton (@ChrisSkelton87) July 4, 2014
One of those five finals was a year ago, when Djokovic fell to the home-crowd favourite Andy Murray. It was noticeable that the pressure got to him that day, and he seemed a little overawed by the prospect of playing a Brit in the Wimbledon final. Against Federer, he should be a little looser, and that will enable the Serb to be naturally aggressive, the mode in which he’s at his very best.
That could put real pressure on Federer, something that The Tennis Space’s Simon Cambers thinks the veteran could struggle to cope with:
Been thinking about the men's final. Federer has looked great but Djokovic will be his first real test. If he handles pressure, Novak wins— Simon Cambers (@scambers73) July 5, 2014
Djokovic looks battle-hardened heading into this one, having overcome some very tricky opponents in these championships. If he can starting manoeuvring Federer around the court with those booming ground strokes, it’s difficult to see the legs of the Swiss being able to keep up like they once could.
The crowd favourite will definitely be Federer, and that’s understandable. He has been a wonderful, gracious champion on myriad occasions, and the vast majority of the spectators at Wimbledon will be keen to see him make history and seize title No. 8 at the All England Club. But while he wasn’t able to spoil the party last year, the Serb will have too much for the fans’ favourite this time.
Prediction: Djokovic to win in four sets