Federer vs. Djokovic Preview
Wimbledon Final 2019
A matchup of two great champions … it’s very difficult to choose between the two. The subtext running in the background is their respective place in tennis history. The player who ignores history in favor of living in the moment will be the champion. Although Fed is older, i.e. closer to the end of his career, he seems for this fortnight to be a step ahead when it comes to “playing from the inside”, living in the here and now. Yet, as he himself clearly said in his press conference following his semi-final win over Nadal: “It’s all about who’s having a better day.”
For tennis fans, this is clearly an insufficient response, both true and uninformative at the same time. So, let me tell you what to look for. First, grass court points are shorter than on any other surface, so look for the player with more returns in play to have an edge. Servers rarely lose short points because the serve is so dominant, so extending the rally length is the #1 job of the returner. This favors Novak.
However, secondly, I would rather look in another direction. Both Federer and Djokovic have excelled in the 5-8 shot rally length points against their opponents. This point length is a step beyond the serve or return domination suggested by the 0-4 shot rally length. This is all about patterns and breaking down an opponent one step at a time. Here is where Fed’s genius will prevail. Djokovic will be desperately trying to extend these rallies to 9+, but he won’t be any more successful than Rafa (50%) at pulling this off.
Good luck Roger: you’re a better player than this guy!