After a performance he hailed as “one of the best” he’s ever produced in his glittering career, Roger Federer will get another shot at a record eighth Wimbledon title against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. The Swiss 33-year-old produced a masterful display, particularly on serve, to wow the Centre Court crowd and beat 2013 champion Andy Murray in straight sets in the semifinals, setting up a repeat of last year’s classic final, which went the way of Djokovic in five sets.
“I don't really think about the match we played against each other last year,” Federer said after defeating Murray. “I just remember it was unbelievably thrilling. The crowd really got into it. I'm just happy personally for myself to be back in a final. Whoever that's going to be against, it's always a big occasion. That it’s Novak, the world No. 1, obviously adds something extra.”
It was against Murray at Wimbledon three years ago that Federer won his 17th, and still last, Grand Slam title. With Rafael Nadal and Pete Sampras his closest challengers on 14, Sunday’s final gives Federer the opportunity to further enshrine his legacy as the greatest player to ever pick up a racket. Djokovic is happy to already anoint Federer as the best, and is well aware of the challenge of facing him at a venue where he has enjoyed his greatest success.
“He's the greatest ever,” Djokovic said. “There's not enough praises for what he does. But this is where he loves to play, this is where he plays his best tennis, I think. The Centre Court of Wimbledon, seven titles. It's his court. He usually rises up to the occasion and he's always playing his toughest when it matters the most. That's why he's a big champion. If I get to play him, it's going to be probably the biggest challenge I can have.”
Both players have had largely comfortable routes through to the final. Federer has dropped just the one set, and only had his serve broken once, in the quarterfinals against Gilles Simon. Djokovic, like Federer, won his semifinal in three sets, seeing off the challenge of Frenchman Richard Gasquet. Five of his six matches were similarly won without dropping a set, with the notable exception being his titanic fourth round clash with South African Kevin Anderson, when he fought back from two sets down.
The Serbian, aiming to join coach Boris Becker on three Wimbledon titles, goes into the final with a losing record against Federer. But it is the 28-year-old who has had the better of their recent contests, winning four of the last six dating back to last year’s Wimbledon final.
“Roger and I played many times,” Djokovic added. “He's one of my greatest rivals. He's one of the people that actually made me a better player, as well. In the matches against him, I went through a lot of different emotions and things that allowed me to understand what I need to do to become a better player and to win against him and win Grand Slam trophies.”
Betting odds (Bovada.lv):
Djokovic : 20/29
Start time: 9 a.m. EDT
TV channel: ESPN