Wimbledon final: Djokovic out to establish hegemony against familiar rival Federer

Sunday’s Wimbledon final will be Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic's 48th meeting with the latter leading 25-22.

Among tennis’ Big Three, no rivalry works as well as the one between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.   -  getty images

Among tennis’ Big Three, no rivalry works as well as the one between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. In terms of numbers as well as styles, it has been the most competitive of match-ups. So much so that each has beaten the other at all the four slams. Sunday’s Wimbledon final will be their 48th meeting with Djokovic leading 25-22.

“It’s the same like going into a Rafa [Nadal] match,” Federer said. “I think the moment you've played somebody probably more than 15 times, especially in recent years, there's not that much more left out there. It very much comes down to who's better on the day, who's in a better mental place and who's got more energy.”

“I don't think there's much to do in terms of practice. This is like a school: the day of the test you're not going to read, how many [ever] books. It's quite clear the work was done way before. That’s why I was able to produce a good result [against Nadal]. It's been a rock-solid year for me. Stars are aligned right now. From that standpoint, I can go into the match very confident.”

Federer: "I think the moment you've played somebody probably more than 15 times, especially in recent years, there's not that much more left out there."   -  getty images

 

Constant pressure

The pace and the rhythm at which Federer plays has never been to Djokovic’s liking. On the above medium-pace surfaces, the Swiss can hustle opponents like no other, something Nadal found out on Friday. On current form, Federer looks closer to his 2012 version that produced the master-class against Djokovic in the semifinal than the one that lost two finals in 2014 and 2015.

“I’ve played Roger in some epic finals here, so I know what to expect,” Djokovic said. “This surface complements his game very much. He loves to play very fast. Takes away the time and rushes you into everything. For players like Nadal or myself who like to have a little more time, it's constant pressure.”

Fighting back

As much as Federer is the master of tennis’ first-act, the serve, Djokovic is of the second, the return.   -  getty images

 

But as much as Federer is the master of tennis’ first-act, the serve, Djokovic is of the second, the return. No one has neutralised the 20-time Major winner’s precisely directed weaponry as well as the Serb, even on grass.

The 32-year-old may not be the invincible self he was in 2014-15, but such are his powers of recovery that he has won three of the last four slams and made the semifinal of the other.

From being outside the top-20 this time last year, he is now the undisputed king. A successful defense of his crown will firmly establish his hegemony.