It’s hard to believe these two great champions haven’t played at Wimbledon since 2008 in what many consider to the best tennis match of all time, a match won by Rafa 9-7 in the fifth under virtual dark skies. It’s a moment in tennis history that will resonate for decades to come. If tonight’s match goes anywhere near that we could be in for an epic.
This will be the 40thtime they play, Rafa leads the match up 24-15 but it’s 2-1 in Federer’s favor on grass, all the matches at Wimbledon. Rafa has lost one set all tournament, to Kyrgios in the second round, Federer has dropped two sets, one to South African Lloyd George Harris in the first round, the other to Nishikori in the QF’s.
Why Rafa will win
Everybody kept talking about Rafa’s horror draw here, how he’d be lucky to make the second week, but in hindsight the draw gods gave him the gift of Nick Kyrgios, which lit up Rafa’s match and pumped even more steel into his attitude, the problem for the rest of the draw was that the Spaniard kept this steel. The grass is playing slower which is a big factor, it gives Rafa that extra half a second to set himself, if he keeps holding serve which puts pressure on Roger’s serve he’ll win it over the best of 5 format.
Why Federer will win
The Swiss Maestro knows the longer the rally goes the worse it is for him, he’ll have to win the rallies in 4 shots or less. He said as much in his off court interview after the Nishikori win, Federer will all out attack, he doesn’t have a choice, I expect him to come to net as often as possible and crush any Rafa second serve, if he converts enough break points he’ll win.
Federer will live and die in this match by his 1stserve percentage, he must get free points to take pressure off his service games. Federer has to win the first set or at least the second, if he goes down two sets to love its over, as Rafa is a great front-runner. I think the crowd will be on Roger’s side, they know his career end is probably closer than Rafa’s, and he hasn’t been in a Grand Slam Final since last season’s Australian Open, I think that urgency will push Federer to his limit and he’ll win this in 5 thrilling sets.
But here’s something to mull over, if Rafa wins this match and ultimately the tournament he’ll be at 19 Slams, one shy of Federer’s 20, it will be the closest he has ever been to Federer’s Grand Slam tally.