In spite of facing each other 26 times before, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer never faced each other on grass until the semi finals at the Wimbledon on Tuesday. The odds were stacked against Federer as Djokovic dominated the previous seven clashes, winning six of them. But the sixteen time grand slam champion re-affirmed his position as the god of grass and sent the Serb packing. Glimpses of Federer’s invincibility were witnessed when he defeated Djokovic in four sets, the score board reading 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
In the recent past, back pain has plagued Federer’s performance, making him vulnerable to prolonged matches. The surface was the key to Federer’s victory. Even though the grass is slower now when compared to the era when serve & volley was the staple playing style, it is sufficiently fast for the aggressive players. Federer realized this early on and his aggression knew no bounds.
The first two sets had very little of rallying and consisted of numerous service winners. This changed the momentum of the match and made it just a tad unpredictable. The Swiss did not let Djokovic dominate at any point under the closed roof of the centre court. Although Djokovic was quick to recover in the second set, it was Federer who looked overwhelmingly at ease with himself. The crowd witnessed some fantastic tennis in the third set. Djokovic had to dig deep to save break points and wound up with one of his own at 4-4. Federer saved the break point with a fine serve and broke Djokovic in the next game to clinch the set. Federer could taste victory when he broke Djokovic in the second game of the fourth set. All Djokovic managed to do was reduce the deficit to 4-2. When Federer was serving for the match at 5-3, memories of US Open 2010 and 2011 must have flashed through his mind when he had two match points against Djokovic only for the Serb to fight back and eventually emerge victorious during both encounters. This time, Federer held his nerve to close the set at 6-3.
It has been over 30 months since Federer won a grand slam title, his last being the Australian open where he defeated Andy Murray. Federer looks to defeat Andy Murray and become on the third man in the history of tennis to have bagged seven Wimbledon titles alongside Pete Sampras and William Renshaw. A victory in the final would also re-instate Federer as the world’s top ranked men’s tennis player, a position he relinquished over two years ago.
In the second semi final, Andy Murray held his own to overcome the hard hitting Frenchman, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in four pulsating sets. When the Scot steps onto the turf on Sunday alongside Roger Federer, the tension will be spiked at unprecedented levels for, Andy Murray, the first British finalist at Wimbledon in 74 years. Murray aims to become the first British to win the Wimbledon title in 76 years and his intentions of scaling that mountain were made clear when he defeated Tsonga 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.
The intensity of the game had the entire audience of the centre court at the edge of their seats. Courtesy Tsonga, the match was far from normal. The Frenchman played in bursts of brilliance and distraction that amplified the entertainment. After losing the third set, Murray was faced with the threat of blowing a two set lead. He rebounded steadily in the fourth against the weary Tsonga.
Murray pointed to the heavens with tearful eyes after finally making it past the semifinals at the Wimbledon in his fourth attempt. He murmured what can most readily be assumed a prayer, but he would not reveal. He knows that his joy in only momentary as is conveyed by the expressionless face of his coach and legend, Ivan Lendl, oblivious to the tumult that erupted around him at the end of the match that lasted over three hours.
Words cannot even begin to fathom the consequence of the result of the match on Sunday. It could serve to rejuvenate Roger Federer’s fading career or reserve a spot in history for Andy Murray. It can be memorable just as it can be disastrous. One can only hope that it will not be anti-climatic which would sap the spirit of the player who deserves either to be crowned champion or lose with grace.