It’s one of those years in Tennis. Two players batteling among themselves for the no.1 spot – Rafael Nadal has been number one all year, but despite not winning the Roland Garros, it’s been Novak Djokovic’s 2011 so far. And just below, at 3rd, is Roger Federer, hoping to grab the few chances he has left to shine, to win. He had it in the Roland Garros final, but as usual, he messed with the Bull and got the horns. Nadal rose and dominated Federer, as usual.
Matchups, history, grass. Djokovic is the hottest player on the tour, still. He has only one loss this year, to Roger Federer at the French Open. Federer’s shot arsenal and ability to draw Novak away from the baseline led to his victory. Djokovic has found his comfort zone this year, and he’s trying not to wander off too far towards the net. For Federer, despite losing to Novak a few times this year, it’s more comfortable facing him. On Grass? You’ve got to favor Roger.
Djokovic’s style works very well against Nadal, beating him final after final after final in the Masters tournaments. Nadal can’t push him to his backhand like he does with Federer. The high bounces and tons of spin he puts on the ball aren’t as disruptive for Djokovic as they are for Federer, who plays with a single-hand backhand and has difficulty with those high bouncing balls. There’s always that dreaded Nadal cross court shot, but he can’t put himself in the position often enough against Djokovic.
Don’t forget, this is Wimbledon. It’s been either Nadal or Federer here since 2003. They haven’t met since that epic 2008 Final, a game many regard as the greatest ever. Andy Roddick is always dangerous on grass, Andy Murray looked very good in Queens but anything more than a semi final for him will be surprising in my opinion. Mentally, he’s no where near the top two players. And still isn’t good enough to beat Federer, in their current form.
This isn’t a specialists sport like in years before. The really good guys are good on every surface, grass-clay-hard. This isn’t the Pete Sampras days while Spaniards and Kuerten ruled the Roland Garros. You do make a few adjustments, maybe rely more heavily on your serve and ability to punch in those aces, but the tennis isn’t all that different when it’s one of the top four players. Murray is still a pusher. Djokovic still prefers the baseline, and will look to dominate from there.
The first round of the Roland Garros came to mind, where Nadal struggled against John Isner, a classic player for Wimbledon. Somehow, he’s off to start against Nicolas Mahut, his partner in the three-day-marathon we said was bad for tennis. Probably not for ratings it seems. Any indication of him struggling against big servers this time? He failed to impress on grass last week, but I wouldn’t worry too much. Nadal is still the favorite to win this one as long as Djokovic doesn’t make the final. If he does… I’m still with Nadal, although I’ll be doubting him and my guesses a whole lot more.
Federer? I think he’s feeling good about himself. He knows what he has to do, there isn’t a tournament in the world in which he feels more comfortable. This isn’t the same situation like last year, and he won’t fall in the quarter finals. Can he beat Nadal? He needs a lot of things to go right for him in the match, and a five set tennis match is very long… I’ll keep my fingers crossed.