Although the 2014 Wimbledon Championship has proven to be fantastic for young prospects, the final match will see a face-off between two of tennis’ elite competitors: Novak Djokovic, a 6-time Grand Slam champion, and Roger Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam champion. It is arguably the final that many fans (though not British ones) had hoped for, and it will likely live up to the lofty expectations attached to this storied rivalry. Federer and Djokovic have crossed paths on 34 occasions on the professional circuit, with the Federer vs Djokovic Head-to-Head standing at 18-16.
Djokovic, the top seed at this year’s Championships, was the first to secure his spot in the final with a strong win over surging Grigor Dimitrov. Although he concluded the match in four sets with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(7) scoreline, the Serbian star had a difficult time closing it out, saving four set points in set four.
“In the semis of Wimbledon playing a future star, he deserves respect, it was a tough match overall,” said Djokovic, who saved three set points in the fourth set tie-break when he trailed 3-6. “The fourth set could have gone either way. I started well, was up a set and a break, points for double break. But like I did against Cilic [in the quarter-finals], I allowed him to get back in the match. Overall I’m really glad to reach another Wimbledon final.”
Roger Federer, on the other hand, reached the final at SW19 without any sort of struggle from his Canadian adversary Milos Raonic. It was a straightforward showing from Federer, who beat Raonic 6-4,6-4,6-4, to set up his ninth final on Centre Court.
While many wrote off Federer after his relatively abysmal season last year, those who believed he would return predicted it would materialize at a Wimbledon final, where Federer is clearly most comfortable and where he has dazzled adoring fan for the past decade. This was hardly a bold proclamation, but one that has been realized all the same. On Sunday, the Swiss legend will face the only member of the ‘Big Four’ that he has not faced in a Wimbledon Final. He has defeated both Murray and Nadal to lift the trophy but is yet to claim that achievement over Djokovic – even though he beat him in the 2012 semi-final en route to the last of his eight Wimbledon titles.
“We always play good matches against each other,” said Federer. “We’ve played each other a lot the past six months, and it’s gone back and forth a bit. Novak is a great champion; he’s used to these occasions. He’s won here before and knows how to get it done. I hope it’s going to be a good match.”
Simply taking part in a Wimbledon final is an extraordinary achievement for Federer, as he is the oldest player to reach that stage of the tournament since Aussie legend Ken Rosewall managed the feat in 1974. Since he only had to beat one Top 5 competitor in the process, his real litmus test will be on Sunday afternoon when he steps across the net from his old rival.
After 34 meetings on the professional tour, and at virtually every meaningful tournament and major championship, there is very little to say that has not already been said about this storied rivalry. We have already seen them compete three times this season, but it would be hard to imagine anything less than an exhilarating battle between two of game’s great competitors on arguably the grandest stage of them all.
Prediction: Roger Federer in Five Sets