At the start of the Championships, Roger Federer was third favourite to win the title behind the defending champion Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Analysis of the draw indicated that Federer perhaps had the easiest path of the top 4 seeds, but Frenchman Julien Benneteau had other ideas and was within 2 points of dumping the Swiss master out of the tournament in the third round. With a 2 set deficit, Federer held his nerve and kept his belief, eventually coming out on top 4-6 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 7-6 (8-6) 6-1. Despite suffering back issue because of this match, it was the turning point of Federer’s Wimbledon campaign and he breezed through his next 2 opponents (Malisse & Youzhny) to set up a semi final clash with favourite, defending champion, and world number 1 Novak Djokovic.
In both the semi final match against Djokovic and the subsequent final against Murray there is no doubt that the British weather played a massive role, which is ironic as the building of the roof was supposed to take the weather out of the equation, but it actually made it more of a factor. Before the roof was installed, Wimbledon was a 100% outdoor event, but now whether the big matches are played indoors or out is at the mercy of the weather. Federer himself has talked about his wish for Wimbledon to be played outdoors saying “that is how its supposed to be”, but even the Swiss legend himself admitted that closing the roof helped him out in the final. Even while Federer has been experiencing a “mini slump” over the last 2 years he has been unbeaten indoors on the ATP tour. As he said after his semi final victory against Djokovic, it makes the match a little less physical and he can rely more on his incredible shot making.
In yesterdays final Murray managed to more than hold his own during the first 2 sets with the roof open, and only has himself to blame for not taking one of the four break point opportunities he had which could have seen him take a 2 sets to love lead. Murray’s ability and focus has improved leaps and bounds since he employed Lendl as his coach, but he still needs to take that final step which will see him take these match defining points.
Even with a two sets to love lead, the closing of the roof would in my opinion still have seen Federer win 3 straight sets to take the Wimbledon title, but as it played out, Murray lost the second set and Federer only needed two sets with the roof closed to take the title and reclaim the world number 1 ranking.
What’s the secret to Federer amazing indoor record?
As Federer stated in the Press conference after the win over Murray, in outdoor conditions he needs to play to the elements a bit more, accounting for wind, focussing less on tactics, and going for his shots less. This makes it more of a physical battle and less on his unbelievable shot making skills. In contrast in an indoor environment he can get into the zone a lot easier as he can just let go and play a more attacking brand of tennis. Particularly on the backhand side, Federer was a totally different player in sets one and two compared to sets three and four.
Stat of the match: It was not however just the indoor conditions that suited Federer, as Murray’s service deteriorated substantially after the rain delay. In set 2, Murray made an impressive 72% of first serves, which fell off a cliff in sets 3 and 4 being 49% and 45% respectively. This contrasts with Federer’s own first serve percentage that remained about 68% for the whole match. Such a huge fall is likely due to physical conditioning. Murray is in unbelievable shape but had a gruelling couple of matches before the final compared to that of the Swiss.
Federer did what all great champions do. They adapt to whatever is in front of them and find a way to win. With Federer now installed at the summit of the rankings its going to be a very interesting few months to see how long this new reign by King Roger will last.
It wasn’t all bad for the British: A bet placed nearly a decade ago by someone who subsequently died, has resulted in Oxfam (a British Charity) netting around $150,000. In 2003 Nick Newlifeat placed a bet that Federer would win seven Wimbledon titles by 2019 (odds of 66/1). Mr Newlife unfortunately died in 2009 but had left the betting slip to Oxfam in his will.