Well, if the master hadn’t handled the student today. Roger Federer, seizing on a quick indoor Wimbledon center court, on which he made only ten unforced errors, played the perfect grass court tennis match pretty much, in dispatching Novak Djokovic, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. Federer put his big serve to use, pounding second serves, where he also had a decided advantage. Federer won 72% of second serves, and that really got him out of almost all of his deep service games, in clutch fashion. And when you think about clutch serving and Wimbledon, you have to think about Pete Sampras. Now Federer-Sampras comparisons are nothing new, but the twilight Federer-Sampras comparisons, we feel are very useful in demonstrating how, well, major they are.
The gameplan with Annacone all along was to get back to the top on grass, because that’s where serving and attacking take to the best. Here they are. And there Annacone once was with Pete Sampras, on the verge of a 7th Wimbledon title and what was then a record would be 13th major. For Federer, it’s a Sampras tying 7th trophy, if he can get it, and 17th singles major. That’s why we don’t see a lot of pressure on Murray in this spot, despite the fact that a British man has not won here in so long. Since the Wimbledon champion is also commonly known as the champion of tennis, we think it fitting for Federer to be the 7 time champion of all tennis, pretty much the one record in major history that is most cherished and respected. Murray doesn’t have the pressure on him that Federer does, though Murray is probably feeling it, and must relish a final without Djokovic or Nadal in play, to boot.
But here is where we think Federer has a good chance to come through. Sampras had a few cracks at US Open trophies late in the game where he had gone out and played six great matches twice and then didn’t get it done in the finals, against Hewitt and Safin, younger guys. We think in this older-younger matchup, Federer has a decided edge because of service. Once again, a situation, as well, where Federer has not played one single match against Murray prior on grass. Or clay, that we are at it. For shame. We would love an extension of grass court season, such as the one we will see this year with the Olympics being held next month in London, with perhaps a Masters on grass, at a state of the art place like Halle. Because it’s better tennis. We love our attack tennis, and that’s why we feel Federer is in a tremendous spot to handle Murray here and pick up the hardware. Murray is not an attacker, and despite some big serving, we don’t see him as having the right makeup to attack Roger Federer on grass. Djokovic is by far a better grass court player, and Federer handled him magnificently today, despite being outplayed at net by Djokovic, we might add.
I think we see the full fruition of the Federer-Anacone partnership right here. Federer serving his way to major titles. And it will be another similarity between Roger and Pete, that they came out and served well in big spots late in their career. We’ve seen Federer capitalize on Murray’s inabilities to claim his most recent majors at Flushing and Melbourne. In fact, we haven’t seen Federer pick up a major against anyone of Djokovic-Nadal calibre in quite a spell, recalling that the last four majors Roger claimed were against Murray, Soderling, Roddick, and Murray.
Roger must capitalize on this opportunity. And ultimately, his durabilty, and his laterals are what gets him in this position, and of course, timely serving. We have always slightly favored Pete because of what we perceive to be lack of clutch factor in Roger’s major finals, letting many nice opportunities go by the board, and unconscionably losing to Nadal in Melbourne on Plexicushion. It’s why Roger needed an Annacone, and we see the influence on what Roger is doing, and we’ll see it on Sunday, we feel. Annacone has essentially taken Roger’s two best shots, his serve out wide and his serve down the middle, and made them the staples of his gameplan. Annacone, in his capacity as Captain of Great Britain’s Davis Cup team, worked intimately with Murray for a few years and no doubt has quite a book on the kid, who we feel is going to feel the enormity of the spot and the matchup/surface disadvanages. At the heart for Murray, is a refusal to play attack tennis, an achilles heel for Murray throughout his career, which should certainly be exploited by Federer, best perhaps on these courts, where attack tennis should reign.
Federer only has to play the opponents who advance to play in the finals. If he can do that, based on his overall excellence and longevity, he is going to have his chances sometimes against guys who might be tailored made for him at a given time. Personally, we think it would take a lot for Federer to lose. This is the opportunity that he lives for, and coming up with the goods against Murray has never been a problem, not at least at a major, where Murray has yet to break his cherry against Federer. This is looking like vintage time warp Roger, circa 2007, and if he can find this level now, he may be able to find it a few more times before the lights go out.
If Federer wins Sunday, he would tie Sampras for 7 Wimbledon singles titles, and 12 US Open and Wimbledon titles, combined. If Murray wins, he will become a first time major champion and the first Wimbledon winner from Britain since Fred Perry.