Novak Djokovic taking on Roger Federer in the 2014 Wimbledon Men's final is a battle between two supremely gifted and experienced champions. It's a clash of styles between Federer's dynamic power and the subtle, wear-down style of Djokovic.
The match will take place on Centre Court at 2 p.m. BST on Sunday. Here's a full preview of this star-studded final, which you can catch on BBC One:
Winning The Baseline Is Vital for Djokovic
The tactical battle will make for fascinating viewing in this final. Both players are seasoned strategists accustomed to undermining their opponent's best strengths.
Both Federer and Djokovic are dominant from the baseline. That means you can expect each player to try to draw the other away from that area.
The onus will be on Federer, considering how Djokovic uses the view from deep to manufacture passing shots. Those shots are usually aimed at exploiting space down the lines, something Federer has noted, per BBC Sport reporter Sam Sheringham:
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.
Federer's description hints at how Djokovic loves to dictate a game via a steady stream of challenging shots designed to move his opponent around the court as much as possible.
If Federer hopes to give Djokovic a taste of his own medicine, he'll have to vary his power-based volley game. Instead, the Swiss star must drop some shots just over the net to unnerve Djokovic.
Djokovic is aware of Federer's superior net game, though. The Serb is already preparing his familiar grind-it-out counter to Federer's fast-paced style, per Sheringham:
Against Federer, the key will be to try not to allow him to dictate too much because he likes to be very aggressive.
He likes to come to the net and I'm going to have to be able to get as many returns back in the court as possible and stay close to the lines.
Holding the lines is an obvious key for Djokovic. If he can withstand Federer's striking power and slow the match down, his crafty range of shots will win the crucial points.
Of course, Federer will be keen to keep the pace high.
Short Rallies Identified as a Key for Federer
Writing for The Telegraph, Laura Robson has identified short rallies as a key to victory for Federer:
IBM's SlamTracker, which uses a complicated algorithm to calculate specific targets – or keys – players should aim for to succeed against a certain opponent, suggests Roger's best chance of success would be to keep the rallies short: when he has won 52 per cent of his four-to-nine-shot rallies (in 800 sets analysed) he has won 84 per cent of those sets. He really doesn't want to get dragged in to long rallies. I expect him to play really aggressively, coming to the net, to go for it on the first serve, and finish it quickly.
Robson's point is well-taken. Djokovic is the tennis equivalent of a control freak. The 27-year-old goes into machine mode whenever he dictates the speed of play.
That speed is usually a steady one that saps an opponent's energy while allowing Djokovic to craft clever shots to exploit space. However, Djokovic is far from serene when the pace is upped a step or two.
His cerebral style does not suit a frantic game. Lacking the impact Federer can generate in his shots means Djokovic has to be more selective. But that only works when he has time to plot his actions.
By contrast, Federer is much more instinctive. If he can keep the pace fast, his natural feel for the spectacular can earn him the key points.
Djokovic Will Deny Federer an 8th Wimbledon Title
Federer has an eighth Wimbledon title in his sights. He is playing exciting tennis that makes it seem as though he has turned the clock back.
However, the 32-year-old will find Djokovic in imperious form for this final. The Serb needs to make amends for his limp surrender at this stage against Andy Murray in 2013.
Djokovic won't find it easy to do that against perhaps the greatest big-game performer tennis has known. Yet, this year's tournament just feels as though it belongs to Djokovic.
Just as he was against Murray, he'll be cast in the role of villain. Most will want to see Federer finish his awesome career in the grand manner.
But Djokovic's experience of a partisan Centre Court last year will stand him in good stead for the 2014 final. He'll hold his nerve and control enough of the pace of play to edge the match.
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