There have been times, over the past eleven years, when people have underestimated Roger Federer at Wimbledon. He lost in the quarterfinals in consecutive years, in 2010 and 2011. And who can forget his second-round loss to Sergiy Stakhovsky in 2013? Since then, though, everyone writing Federer off has been hilariously wrong. And he proved it once again in 2019.
Whether or not it’s actually the greatest rivalry, Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal is unquestionably the most-anticipated matchup in tennis. Some tennis fans might disagree, but this matchup draws the interest of the world at large. And with the pair meeting for the first time since their all-time classic meeting in the 2008 final, there was plenty to be excited about.
The match started out relatively straightforward, with each player holding pretty easily. Both men were serving well, and each seemed to have nothing to trouble the other on return. Federer managed to open up an opportunity late in the set, but Nadal held from there. The set went to a tiebreak, and Nadal opened it up with an incredible winner. The pair traded minibreaks, twice, before Federer took the final four sets of the tiebreak with strong play.
Federer opened the second set by fighting through a tough service game, and then had two break point chances in Nadal’s next game. Federer couldn’t get the break–including missing an easy second-serve return–and things went downhill from there. He was broken the next game, and his next service game after that. All in all, Nadal won six straight games in about 30 minutes to take the second set 6-1.
Federer is never one to give up, though. He held serve easily twice to start the third set, and broke Nadal for a 3-1 lead. Of course, it’s always difficult to hold serve after breaking Nadal–he has one of the highest break-back rates in tennis history. Federer did it, though, fighting off three break points in the process. The next two service games were more straightforward, and Federer won the third set 6-3.
Nadal looked a little uncomfortable to start the fourth set. He opened up with a double fault, but managed to come back and hold the game. The next game did not go so well, though. An errant forehand while break down down gave Federer a break and a 2-1 lead. From there, it was all Federer. He wasn’t able to break Nadal again–and he had break points in Nadal’s final service game–but he didn’t need to. Four holds later, and Federer was through to a 12th Wimbledon final with a 7-6 1-6 6-3 6-4 win.
Roger Federer vs Novak Djokovic
This pair have now met 47 times, with meeting number 48 coming on Sunday. The head-to-head is tight, with Djokovic winning 25 and Federer winning 22. This will be the pair’s fifth meeting in a Grand Slam final. Federer won the first such meeting, way back in the 2007 US Open final. Since then, Djokovic won their last three meetings in Major finals, all coming in 2015 and 2016. Djokovic leads the head-to-head at all Majors 9-6, and 2-1 at Wimbledon.
Those numbers are interesting, but nothing that stands out as particularly favoring one player or another. Djokovic has won their last four meetings, and 19-9 overall since the start of the 2011 season. Federer is now playing better than in some of those years, though, and their most recent meeting went to a final-set tiebreak. What are we in store for on Sunday? It will certainly be historic. And it will likely be one heck of a tennis match too.
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