Federer vs Djokovic – a match-up that has provided so much entertainment in the past…
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 13, 2019
Novak Djokovic vs. Roger Federer
A 4-time defending champion and #1 player in the world facing an 8-time former champion and #3 player in the world makes this an ideal championship match. Federer and Djokovic have played a number of times in majors with Federer’s last win coming at the 2012 Wimbledon semifinal round. Since then, Djokovic has won 3 Grand Slam finals and one Grand Slam semifinal vs. Roger Federer.
Nole’s wins include a 5-set Wimbledon championship win in 2014 and a 4-set Wimbledon championship win in 2015. This seems to be the big clue about tomorrow’s match. Federer is the decided underdog. If Djokovic is playing at the same level he was from January 2015-June 2016, Federer has a small chance at victory. If Djokovic’s level is a little lower than it was in 2015, Federer has closer to a 50-50 chance. Federer winning two majors in 2017, including Wimbledon, as well as one in 2018 has to make him believe he can win this match, but again Djokovic is a steep mountain to climb.
Djokovic’s speed, return of serve, ability to extend points and hit unexpected winners due to his flexibility all make him a tough match-up for Federer (and pretty much anyone else).
Federer’s Path to Victory
- He needs to serve well – Aces, service winners, and easy forehand put away shots off of short returns need to be plentiful for Federer to win
- He needs to return well – He did this particularly well vs. Nadal and seemed to use analytics to direct most of his backhand returns to the center of the court with topspin rather than underspin. This pushed Rafael Nadal backwards.
- If Ljubicic and the rest of Team Federer can figure out where Nadal does not like serve returns to be hit, Federer might add a new wrinkle to an old rivalry. Tony Nadal once noted that Federer did not like analytics so maybe older Fed has had to add to his bag of tricks.
- Federer needs to mentally get past Friday. He may have beaten the second biggest obstacle to the title, but any emotional or mental hangover from Friday will spell doom for Federer on Sunday. Djokovic is the #1 seed for a reason. In 2019, beating Djokovic on grass is harder than beating Nadal on grass.
- Federer may need to play the tank a set game to rest if he grabs a lead but feels his legs going.
Djokovic’s Path to Victory
- Djokovic needs to play his general airtight tennis. If he gives Federer nothing easy, he should win.
- Djokovic needs to serve well enough to make his return of serve more of a factor. Djokovic has the best return in the game, but if Nole struggles to hold it negates this comparative advantage.
- Djokovic needs to stay the course. In 2014, Nole probably should have won the first set and lost the 4th set from two breaks up. He still won the match in 5 sets.
- Some things probably won’t go as planned in this match, but if Djokovic looks at that 2014 result as an example of winning even when things go the wrong direction, he should be calmer when/if something goes wrong.
Men’s Tennis may have 3 Sultans of Swing, but it will have only 1 2019 Men’s Wimbledon Champion
My Prediction: Novak Djokovic d. Roger Federer 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5
I would not be stunned to see either man win. Still, Novak Djokovic has a little more margin for error and a few more avenues for victory.