So many records I don’t know where to begin. I’ll start with the big one. Roger Federer has reached his 9th Wimbledon final! The last time he reached the finals of any Grand Slam was exactly two years ago also at Wimbledon so you can imagine how thrilled all Federer Fans were when Milos Raonic’s backhand went wide on match point. It’s been almost 24 hours since the match was over and I’m still smiling today. I went to bed with a smile and I woke up with one and not even the torrential rain that’s been inundating my city brought me down 😀
The SF match itself was perfect from start to finish. Roger had a clear game plan for attacking Milos and he executed it flawlessly. In the first set with Milos serving to start the match, the Canadian got broken right away. After that no matter how many love holds Milos had, Roger remained intensely focused on his own serving games and continued to hold till he took the set 6-4 in 34 minutes.
Set 2 was more intense and both players continued to hold with conviction. At 4-all it seemed destined to reach a tie-break. But who is Roger Federer if not a master of his own destiny? 😉 Right at 4-all with Milos serving, Roger pushed on the accelerator and had 3 break points. Milos saved the 1st one but couldn’t save the 2nd and before you could blink, Roger was serving for the set at 5*-4. No problems there as he took the set 6-4, again in 34 minutes.
Set 3 was an exact copy of set 2. Both players were on par till 4-all and then Roger broke Milos again to get the chance to serve for the match. He got pushed to 30 all before finding his way out. He took set 3 for 6-4 as well, this time in 33 minutes. Raonic had said before the match that when he would go on court he wouldn’t be playing the 7-time Wimbledon Champion but rather a player who is in his way. I had mentioned in my last post that it was up to Roger to show the Canadian who HE is – and he did just that 😀 Here are the match stats.The Maestro has the ability to break down big servers unlike any other player I have seen. He gets a read on their first serves such that most of them actually get returned back, which these players aren’t used to. He also takes advantage of any second serves that come his way. Most importantly he makes these big guys move, side to side and back to front. And on grass, he does it even better because he can throw in neat dropshots and crazy angled volleys that won’t bounce high enough for the opponent to get a chance to hit them back. Combine that with his own precision serving and good defense and he becomes extra tough for these big servers to beat him, just ask Andy Roddick 😉 The match was a master class not just in tennis shots, but also in strategy, tactics and focus. Here are some links for you: The match point clip, the tiny clip of highlights, the post-match interview, the presser clip, the presser transcript and the tiny pre-final presser clip.
If the SF was all serves with hardly any rallies, the final on the other hand will be a very different match indeed. He will face the #1 seed Novak Djokovic across the net for the 35th time which is the most number of times he has faced anyone, even more than the 33 matches with Rafa Nadal. Their H2H is 18-16 in Roger’s favour. However, despite this being their 35th meeting, the last time they met at a Grand Slam final was in the 2007 US Open when Novak hadn’t even won one of his six Grand Slams. They only met once on grass, at the same venue two years ago; the 2012 Wimbledon SFs which Roger won in 4 sets.
There are no secrets here. They both play quite close to the baseline, Roger is the aggressor and Novak a great defender. Novak will twist and turn his body for those impossible gets while Roger will float above the grass creating insane angles and attack with venom. Both have much to gain from this win; they both have points to prove. Who will win depends entirely on who can execute their plan from the beginning and sustain a high level throughout. For his part, Roger’s serve will need to be super accurate. The Maestro might have to curtail going to the net a lot but it would be unwise to forget this strategy altogether as it has greatly paid dividends so far this tournament. He will need to keep mixing it up, try to keep the points short and watch out for Novak’s backhand while withstanding constant pressure on his own.
A win would be unbelievably amazing but I do want to say that I am already so very proud of him reaching this point. When you think back to last year with him losing in the second round as the defending champion, his back problems before and after Wimbledon and the misery that continued all the way till Basel 2013, it’s almost a miracle he is where he is a year later. So many had written him off and wanted to him retire with that nonsensical notion of “preserving his legacy”. They failed and still fail to recognize that being a champion is not about the wins but also about the journey.
I believe 2013 is a significant part of the Maestro’s legacy. After years of dominance when his body, mind and talent all obeyed him in sync, he was faced with multi-system failure. At that point, he could have retired from the sport rather than continuing to fail in front of millions at each tournament. But instead, that’s when Roger showed his championship mentality the most and never gave up. He kept getting up, dusting himself off and trying again. I mentioned above that it’s almost a miracle he’s here, except in reality, it required intense hard work and tremendous determination to get him to this point. He put in that work despite the easier option of walking away knowing he will already be in the Hall of Fame. I don’t know about you but when I think about the word ‘role-model’ I don’t imagine someone with a heavy trophy cabinet. It is someone whose focus, motivation, passion and work ethic is inspirational to millions. I think Roger fits that bill perfectly ❤
All that work, many months in the making, has led us to this point where Roger Federer is back in the final of a Grand Slam. I don’t know if a win awaits us, but the view is mighty good from up here already. He’s playing great tennis, he’s going deep in tournaments, he’s injury free, he’s traveling with his two sets of twins, his lovely wife and a great team of coaches and trainers and he’s loving life. Quite a different picture from last year don’t you think?
Of course, before I end the post here are some stats and records our champ has set by reaching the finals. This post wouldn’t be complete without them 🙂
- Roger has reached his 9th Wimbledon final which is a record
- Roger has reached his 25th Grand Slam final which is a record
- Roger has reached his 119th career final. He is 3rd on the all-time record behind Connors and Lendl
- This SF win was Roger’s 274th Grand Slam match win which is a record
- This SF win was Roger’s 963rd career match win in 1,185 career matches played.
- This SF win was Roger’s 73rd match win at Wimbledon. He is 2nd on the list behind Connors’ 84 wins
- With this SF win, Roger has enough ranking points to get him back to #3 in the rankings and become the #1 Swiss player again from next Monday
Well, that’s it from me. I am hoping for a good match on Sunday but I confess I am still a bit overwhelmed that he’s in the final again so I don’t think I will fully believe it till I see him walk out on court tomorrow. Wishing all the best for the Maestro! May his inspirational journey continue!