Well, maybe not perfect, but pretty damn close. Roger Federer, a month before his 31st birthday, played as close as possible to his best in order to beat Novak Djokovic in their first ever meeting on grass, setting up his eighth final at Wimbledon against Andy Murray, making a little bit of history himself.
Federer is the first player to reach the Wimbledon final eight times in the Open era, with his only loss coming in 2008 against Rafael Nadal. By beating Djokovic in four sets (6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3) Federer’s record in the Wimbledon semis improved to 8-0. He’ll actually become the number one player in the world if he wins a Wimbledon title for the 7th time in his career, equaling his tally to Pete Sampras’.
The first set was Federer at his best, while Djokovic looked like the same player from before 2010. Taken aback by Federer’s aggression, going for a winner with every shot, trying to make a short point from everything. He broke Djokovic’s serve early, and went on to take the first set 6-3. Djokovic shook up and went on the same aggressive mode Federer had in the first set. Breaking Federer right off the bat and turning the match upside down.
Set 3 was the crucial one, and Djokovic simply faltered at the pressure point, down 4-5, giving Federer two break points he took advantage of. That was the key to Federer’s win, which seemed to come smoothly after. It was about who made more mistakes, in a match in which both players didn’t try to extend points or simply push the ball. It was about attacking and making less mistakes, or taking advantage of your opponents’. Federer, projected to be the less accurate player at some point, simply didn’t have that drop he usually has against Djokovic and Nadal.
Maybe it was something in the back of his head, telling him that an opportunity to win at Wimbledon might not return. Djokovic isn’t his 2011-self and Rafael Nadal was out. Beating both of them in three days in the best of five matches seems almost impossible. Beating Djokovic didn’t sound like such a likely scenario a few hours ago as well.
Novak Djokovic just couldn’t turn the match into a baseline rally type, based on power shots instead of accuracy and shot making. He couldn’t push Federer into his backhand, but when you get down to it, he couldn’t finish when he had the chances outside of the second set. He couldn’t set the pace, and couldn’t find that rhythm when he just stands around, switching sides with his shots and runs his opponent from side to side. When it’s playing winner for winner, you have to go with Federer every time.
This season is somewhat of another redemptive tour for Federer, maybe for one last time. He’s been counted out countless times, and is still going strong, looking like the favorite to win against Andy Murray, who never finds success against Federer in crunch time. Maybe being a favorite isn’t such a good idea for his at this stage. He wasn’t one against Djokovic this time around, and look how well it worked for him.