'Stars align' as Federer seeks to break Djokovic spell in Wimbledon final

Tanya Simon
July 13, 2019

Federer and Nadal's 40th meeting, and somehow their first at Wimbledon since their epic 2008 final.

Typically, Nadal responded in the second, and his decision to stand further back on Federer's serve paid dividends as he broke twice to level it up at one-set all. Never is, really, no matter where they play.

That, along with a stormy second-round win over Kyrgios, fueled his fire and the only set he dropped in a marauding run to the semi-final was against the maverick Australian.

"Obviously winning that game was crucial for me", Djokovic said of the marathon rally game.

"I had to dig deep", said Djokovic, who will play for his fifth Wimbledon title in six finals appearances and 16th Grand Slam trophy overall.

Friday's match turned on an incredible 45-shot rally in the seventh game of the third set, which Djokovic won to hold serve and stay a break up - and from then on he took total control as the Spaniard, who had looked calm and confident in his first Grand Slam semi-final, was eventually brushed aside.

"I felt like I played good throughout the four sets".

Although neither of the two could break each other in the first set, Federer got the upper hand when he won the set in the tie break.

"The biggest points in the match went my way".

Nadal may have been slightly favoured, he may have won more Slam matches against Federer than any other player (10 of 14), he may have blown away the Fed Express in the dust-bowl semi of Roland Garros a month ago.

"He played great against Bautista Agut, who I thought played a phenomenal tournament", Federer said of his rival.

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Nadal, serving 3-5 down, hit a serve which Federer returned with a clean victor.

His reward? A date with Novak Djokovic, who needed four sets to beat Roberto Bautista Agut in the first semifinal on Centre Court.

"[I'm] sad for the loss because for me was another opportunity", he said.

The latest installment in the Roger vs. Rafa rivalry at Wimbledon is coming to Centre Court. As they prepare for the Wimbledon final, we look at their previous grand slam deciders. Djokovic, the top-ranked tennis player in the world, has won 25 of those times.

One key, for Federer, was that his rebuilt backhand, hit strong and flat more frequently than it used to be, held steady against Nadal's bullwhip of a lefty forehand.

There was a time when Roger Federer taking on Rafael Nadal was a commonplace at Wimbledon. "First set, he was still probably managing his nerves and he made some uncharacteristic unforced errors".

As Federer seeks revenge in SW19, potentially setting up another classic, we take a look at those four past mammoth matches.

"It's something that is going to be hard to see again, " Nadal acknowledged of their long road together.

Federer and Nadal hadn't played since then at Wimbledon until their semifinal Friday. Instead, the Serb cruised past the Belgian in straight sets and also brushed aside surprise semi-finalist Bautista Agut.

The players then smashed out their 45-shot rally, much of it a mesmerizing exchange of identical crosscourt backhands that had the crowd gasping before Djokovic blinked first to switch the angle of attack and take the point with a devastating victor.

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