Wimbledon 2015 Men's Final: Djokovic vs. Federer Preview and Prediction

Lindsay GibbsFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2015

Wimbledon 2015 Men's Final: Djokovic vs. Federer Preview and Prediction

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    Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press

    We have the dream matchup in the men's Wimbledon final: No. 1 vs. No. 2; Novak Djokovic vs. Roger Federer. Djokovic and Federer will face each other Sunday, with the match starting at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN. 

    These two met last year at the same time in the same place, with Djokovic surviving five tight sets to win his second Wimbledon title, his seventh Grand Slam overall. 

    A year later he's added an eighth to his collection, while Federer is still sitting pretty with 17 major titles to his name.

    Both men looked phenomenal in their semifinal matches and have been in form all year long. So who has the edge in the final on Sunday? Keep reading to find out.

Who Has the Historic Edge?

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    These two are about as even as even can be.

    This will be their 40th meeting; currently, Federer has won 20 of their matches, with Djokovic winning 19.

    In their past four meetings—not counting the walkover Federer gave Djokovic in the World Tour Finals last year—they have each won twice.

    They're even at a dead heat in Slams, sitting at 6-6 in their 12 Grand Slam duels. 

    Federer has the edge in the overall resume, with seven Wimbledon titles and 17 majors, but Djokovic has been by far the best player of the year, with a 4,000-point lead at the No. 1 spot.

How Djokovic Has Looked So Far at Wimbledon

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    Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press

    Novak Djokovic has been on a roll so far at Wimbledon.

    He particularly looked indomitable in the first week, taking out potentially tricky opponents such as Philipp Kohlschreiber and Bernard Tomic in straight sets.

    He looked even better in the quarters and semis with his dismissals of Marin Cilic and Richard Gasquet.

    However, his one hiccup came in the fourth round against big-serving Kevin Anderson of South Africa. The Serb dropped the first two sets, and the match stretched to a second day before he finally figured out a way to win, 6-7, 6-7, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5.

    There were concerns that Djokovic would be worn out this fortnight after his French Open heartbreak, but he's shown no signs of rust, fatigue or self-doubt.

How Federer Has Looked So Far at Wimbledon

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    Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

    Roger Federer has looked absolutely flawless so far at Wimbledon. Somehow, just a month away from his 34th birthday, he's playing like he did when he was 24.

    In fact, Federer said that his semifinal victory over Andy Murray was "definitely one of the best matches I've played in my career," as reported by Bryan Armen Graham at the Guardian

    Federer has only dropped one set all tournament, a tiebreaker to the huge-serving Aussie Sam Groth in the third round, and in most matches he hasn't even broken a sweat.

    The Swiss legend notched easy wins over Sam Querrey in the second round, Roberto Bautista Agut in the fourth round, Gilles Simon in the quarters and then Murray in the semis.

    Now he's into the 10th Wimbledon final of his career.

Biggest X-Factors in the Final

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    At Wimbledon there are always a couple of X-factors that have nothing to do with how the players are playing: the weather and the crowd.

    The British crowd isn't nearly as unpredictable as the French crowd, but that doesn't mean they won't be a part of the match. With hometown hero Andy Murray eliminated already, they will be able to fully cheer on their adopted son, Roger Federer, without shame or abandon.

    Djokovic doesn't like it when crowds go against him, even though it's something he's dealt with frequently in his career, so he's going to have to do his best to keep his nose ahead and keep the crowd out of it.

    As for the weather, the Wimbledon roof means that we're not worried about scheduling but rather the playing conditions; if the roof is closed, conventional wisdom says the big-serving Federer will have the advantage.

    Currently, it looks like there is a chance for rain Sunday, according to Accuweather.com, so that's something worth keeping an eye on.

    The Serb's shoulder is also worth noting—he had the trainer come down twice to rub down his shoulder in his semifinal win over Richard Gasquet, and while he didn't take a medical timeout and claims it won't be an issue on Sunday, there's clearly something bothering him, per BBC Sport's Piers Newbery.

Djokovic Will Win If...

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    This is grass-court tennis, so it really does come down to the basics: serving and returning.

    Novak Djokovic is going to have to take care of his serve; that is a given. However, because he doesn't want to get stuck in tiebreakers with Roger Federer, his focus is going to have to be on the return.

    Luckily, Djokovic is one of the best returners on tour—Stan Wawrinka even thinks his return is the best shot in tennis—but if Federer serves the way he did against Andy Murray in the semis, Djokovic is going to need a superhuman returning effort. 

    His semifinal opponent, Richard Gasquet, thinks that's not going to be a problem for the Serb.

    "His return. That's the best because he never misses a return," Gasquet said after the match, as reported by Piers Newberry of the BBC. "All the time serve you serve, the ball is always on your side again. It's very difficult."

    If Djokovic is able to gain command of the points through his return and create break-point chances, he could defend his Wimbledon title.

Federer Will Win If...

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    Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press

    Roger Federer, meanwhile, just needs to continue to serve like he did in the semifinals against Andy Murray.

    In the match against Murray, Federer served 20 aces in three sets and won 84 percent of his first-serve points. 

    In his post-match press conference, Murray was clearly frustrated, as reported by Nick McCarvel of USA Today:

    "He served it extremely well, close to the lines," Murray told reporters. "He made it very difficult for me on the first serve return. It's frustrating when you're out there because I couldn't get a racquet on a lot of the returns. I don't feel like I played a bad match."

    Murray is a great returner, but truthfully, when a guy serves that well, there's nothing his opponent can do.

    Federer will win his eighth Wimbledon crown and add to his ridiculously large legacy if he repeats that serving performance on Sunday.

Prediction

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    Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

    When things are boiled down to the basics like they are in this match, usually one basic has the edge over the other. In this case, that's serving.

    Djokovic's return is top-notch, but even if he has one of the best returning days of his life, a phenomenal serving day by Federer will trump it. Servers get the advantage because they get the first strike. It's that simple.

    After seeing Federer serve the way he did on Friday, and after seeing the match end in straight sets, thus allowing him to conserve energy, I think he's going to be the one coming away as the victor on Sunday.

    He's mentally strong, he's physically fresh, and he's wise enough at this age to know how rare these opportunities are. Djokovic will push him, but it won't be an epic match like last year's affair.

    Federer will finally get to 18 Slams, taking the final in four sets.