Wimbledon semifinals: Roger Federer vs. Novak Djokovic
Is Friday’s Wimbledon semifinal match between No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 3 Roger Federer the de-facto championship match? Most people think so. Djokovic, the defending Wimbledon champ, is a slight favorite on WagerWeb.com.
Federer, who lost in the quarterfinal rounds the last two years — losses that fed speculation that Federer would not win a 17th major title — moved into his eighth Wimbledon semifinal with a dispassionate dismantling of 26th-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, on Centre Court in 1 hour 32 minutes. Federer is looking for a seventh Wimbledon title, which would tie Pete Sampras’ record.
Playing at almost the same time on Court 1, top-seeded and defending champion Novak Djokovic was almost as dominant against an equally overmatched opponent with a 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 win over 31st-seeded German Florian Mayer in 1:45.
Federer, who turns 31 in August, has been plagued by a dodgy back for several years now. It came into play in his previous match against Xavier Malisse, requiring a consultation with both a trainer and a doctor. Federer’s movement has been limited ever so slightly and the back has been a leading factor.
Against Youzhny, it didn’t seem to limit him.
“My back is holding up,” Federer said. “I could focus on tennis again, on tactics I wanted to play, instead of focusing on how to manage little issues or big issues, whatever you want to call them.”
Federer has now beaten the Russian in all 14 of their matches. Youzhny has won all of three sets in 35 opportunities. It should be noted, however, that Youzhny’s wife, Yulia, gave birth to their second son last night, hours before he took the court.
For the last 18 months the No. 1-ranked Djokovic has been the winner of four majors, unable only to conquer clay court at the French Open. Last year Federer beat Djokovic in the semifinals in Paris and this year Nadal beat him in the finals.
Federer leads the 25-year-old Serb 14-12 in career meetings but Federer has lost six of his last seven matches against Djokovic. Possibly the most devastating was at the U.S. Open in 2011 when Federer held two match points on his serve in the fifth set but lost, 6-7, (7), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5. But the two have never played on Wimbledon’s grass, the place where Federer’s precise tennis has been most rewarded.