21:00 – Djokovic v Federer
Head to heads are 20-20 ( plus 1 walkover for Djokovic).
In matches like these many of the stats have very limited usefulness. Two of the game’s top players take each other on in one of the sport’s top matches.
The last time they met was in the most recent tournament in Cincinnati. Federer won in straight sets.
Federer has won his last 11 matches in straight sets. That’s 28 sets in a row! The last person to take a set from him was Djokovic in the Wimbledon final when Djokovic won in 4 sets. On paper he hasn’t had an easy draw. Kohlschreiber, Isner, Gasquet and Wawrinka all possess the skills and ability to make him work for the wins yet they barely made him check his stride. I was disappointed with Wawrinka’s effort in the semi final but when Federer is in this mood it takes someone special to stop him.
Djokovic has been below his best for a while. When we say that about a “normal” player it usually means they lost in a few first rounds or rarely put two wins together. It is a real measure of the Serb’s incredible ability that during his period of “below par” performances he has reached the final in every tournament. In 2015 he failed to make the final in just 1 of 13 tournaments. If he had been in top form he wouldn’t have lost some of those finals!
Before Djokovic played his semi final with Cilic I would have been right behind Federer to win the tournament. Djokovic had dropped sets to Lopez and Bautista Agut. Dropping sets in a best of 5 set format isn’t a major issue especially if it’s the third set when 2-0 up. However he lost the second set each time which suggested something was not as it should be. Also the 3rd and 4th sets in those two matches were close when you’d expect at least 1 of them to be a 6-1 or 6-2. His match with Cilic was different. He played a near perfect match. Cilic did manage to break him in the third set but that was the last game he would win.
New tactics in tennis are fairly unusual but Federer has come up with the SABR (Sneak Attack By Roger). He came up with it in practise when messing around a little. He charges the net as his opponent is hitting his serve. It can catch his opponent off guard. Boris Becker has been whining this week about the tactic saying that in the past players such as McEnroe, Connors, Lendl and himself would not have accepted the SABR. He says it shows disrespect to his opponent. It would be interesting to get his opinion on Djokovic’s “Bambi on Ice”, falling over tactics or how about when Djokovic dramatically lets the world know he can’t focus or see properly. That shows tremendous respect for the game and his opponent doesn’t it?
Value is on Federer as slight underdog as this one can easily go either way. However I think Djokovic will want to get some revenge for Cincinnati and also that the 5 set format favours him. The first set is always really important but it feels like it has more importance for Federer today. He will not want the match to turn into a test of fitness.
Fingers crossed it’s a cracker!