The late-season lull is still in full swing, but the restlessness will soon come to a halt when Roger Federer will face off against Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the Shanghai Masters.
While Roger Federer is still getting out of the hole he dug himself, Novak Djokovic is in the middle of a late-season streak with finishes of a final at the U.S. Open and a trophy at Beijing. Confident at the moment, Djokovic will attempt to conquer the Legend in Lavender for the second straight time. Will it be a Basel repeat?
Roger Federer, the great player he is, still isn't back to his dominating ways; but he is a man on a mission at Shanghai. When Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic step on court expect it to be an Agassi-Becker streetfight in a more subtle manner. Why? No more than the fact that their last three matches (all during the fall hard court season) have gone the distance.
Federer will attempt to redeem himself after squandering two match points in this year's U.S. Open. After watching Federer crush the Swede Robin Soderling in the quarterfinals, I feel, now, that Federer definitely can take out Novak Djokovic. (Now that Federer is behind Djokovic in the rankings, would it be called an 'upset' if Federer defeated Djokovic?)
Mr. Lavender will assume the number two ranking from Djokovic if he wins this crucial match. Although it's probably not Fed's biggest priority, it will probably be on his mind during the match, which will help fuel his motivation. Also, if Federer wins this match and the next, he will claim his 18th Masters Shield, equalling him to arch-rival Rafael Nadal's count.
Federer has displayed considerably good form here, especially with his serve and return. Against John Isner in his first match, Roger Federer consistently got back excellent returns against Isner's 130mph serves. Another stat that is in favor of Federer is the number of aces (16) and number of times broken (1). All signs seem to be pointing at the lavender shirt, but Serbia's new eligible 'Bachelor' should never be counted out.
A natural, Novak Djokovic's lethal backhand can cause Federer some trouble, and Djokovic's arsenal contains some more weapons, too. But a concentrated Federer will still be a tough task for even a concentrated Djoker. Don't count Novak Djokovic out, but don't count Roger Federer out, either.
Prediction: Roger Federer in three sets.