Wimbledon Final Preview: On the Brink of History

With the withdrawal of Rafa from this year’s championships there was understandably some disappointment, especially after last year’s epic final. I have written a post about Rafa’s withdrawal and made my feelings clear on the subject. Rafa only have himself to blame and he has disappointed many, including myself. I would have loved nothing more for him to make the final again and give Roger the opportunity to beat him. Roger has been a different player this year at Wimbledon compared to last year. He has finally got through the slump that was caused by a bout of monocluosis. It all started changing for him in Madrid where he easily disposed of Rafa with his home crowd behind him and on his favorite surface. The sore losers will use tiredness as an excuse for Rafa, but with the home crowd and his favorite surface that is hardly an excuse.

Therefor I thought that was a particularly telling win for Roger, a win that broke Rafa’s confidence so much that he then lost to Robin Soderling in the fourth round of the French Open. This is all the more reason why I would have liked to see Rafa back in the final of Wimbledon, because for the first time it was Roger who won the French Open going into Wimbledon, and not the other way around. So what did Rafa do? He didn’t even show up! He waited until after the Wimbledon draw was made and then under mysterious circumstances withdrew. I say mysterious because he played a full match against Wawrinka in the warm up for Wimbledon and seemed to be moving fine. I think he felt that maybe he wasn’t 100% and therefor he didn’t want to play.

And probably this was for the best as I don’t even think he would have made the final to meet Roger. I can’t see how he would have beaten Roddick if he wasn’t at a 100%. Neither Murray for that matter. In fact I think Rafa would have lost to Hewitt in the second round had he played. He already lost to Hewitt in the warm up to Wimbledon. Either way it turns out Rafa wasn’t missed much, as we had a very exciting Wimbledon championships this year. We have seen so many epic matches and several of the older players in the draw made their presence felt. Hewitt, Ferrero, Haas and Roddick are all players who played a big part in making this year and interesting championships. Both Roddick and Haas raised their level to new heights which could be described as a revelation.

I think many people expected a Roger/Murray final, but Roddick had other plans. I have never seen him play as well as he did against Hewitt and Murray. Imagine him playing against Rafa in this form. That would have been an interesting encounter. As Rafa, Roddick has now made his third Wimbledon final, while Roger has been in all those finals plus the one with Philipoussis. The question now arises who is the best grass courter between Roddick and Rafa. Granted Rafa has won a title, but he faced a sub par Roger last year and he isn’t exactly a great match up for Roger. It will be interesting to see in the future who fares better of the two at the All England Club. But this year it is Roddick, and his place in the final is an utterly deserved one.

He has done it the hard way. He came through Chardy, Kunitsyn, Melzer, Berdych, Hewitt and Murray. That’s one of the toughest draws to a Wimbledon final that you will ever see. And not surprisingly he dropped quite a few sets along the way, 6 to be exact. Roger on the other hand has hardly looked in any trouble at all. And it’s not because he had an easy draw, it’s simply because he has been back to his very best. His opponents were Lu, Lopez, Kohlscreiber, Soderling, Karlovic and Haas. He only dropped one set against Kohlscreiber, who I thought played amazing in that set while Roger’s level just dropped slightly. Other then that Roger has been untouchable. He has played as well as I’ve ever seen him play and it’s just great to see after all the problems he had prior to Madrid.

It’s great to watch Roger knowing that he’s not gonna miss his forehand when he is under pressure, or serve at 50% first serves. He is now back to the Roger that we love watching, the Roger that is pretty much invincible. It’s just great knowing that the player you support has about a 99% change of winning whenever he steps onto the court. That hasn’t been the case of late so it’s very much appreciated these days. Sometimes we have to lose things for a while so we can appreciate them again. We know tomorrow is once again one of the most important matches of Roger’s career. There is a lot riding on this match. Should he win, he will break Pete Sampras’ record and become the first man to win 15 grand slam titles!

After completing the career grand slam by winning the French Open, Wimbledon would be the perfect place to go break the all important grand slam record. SW19 is where it all started for Roger all those years back, and it will be the ultimate fairy tail ending if he breaks the record at his favorite grand slam. It’s also kind of fitting that he plays Roddick in the final, as it was against Roddick in 2004 when the fload gates really opened for Roger and all his talent came flowing out. Now, as he stands on the brink of making history yet again, that talent will be his greatest ally. And once again Roddick will try to get in his way. Having a losing record of 18-2 against your final opponent doesn’t help much though.

They have faced off on grass 3 times before, all of which were at Wimbledon. In those three meetings Roddick only managed to win one set, which was in that 2004 final. Roddick played very well on that day, and we might see yet another inspired performance from him tomorrow. But it’s gonna have to be more then an inspired performance from Roddick tomorrow if he is finally gonna break through. Roger would have to play well below his best, which is highly unlikely to happen. Roger is the man for the big occasion, and you can expect nothing less then his very best tennis tomorrow. He has played better with every match this championships and looked in devastating form against Haas. How does Roddick go into a match against Roger anyway? Does he really believe that he can win?

Looks like they have learned something since the French Open. Nice to see.

He has to, but how hard must it be after winning only 2 out of 20 matches, and in those matches Roger was clearly not at his best. I guess Roddick will try to serve the way he did against Hewitt and Murray and play a similar kind of game. He looks to be attacking the ball more and goes to the net when he gets the chance. But as we have seen from Roger against Karlovic, when he is in his current form a big serve hardly bothers him. He just sticks out his racket and there goes another winner. And Karlovic’s serve is actually harder to get a racquet on then Roddick’s serve. Roger is just better then Roddick in every department of the game, except for the serve. Having said that, Roger will have a better chance to break Roddick’s serve then vice versa.

I mean it’s hard to imagine Roddick breaking Roger at all. Roger has been serving so well and it’s not like Roddick is the best returner in the game. Roger will probably make a high percentage of first serves again and just dominate on his serve. The only way I see Roddick winning a set is by holding his serve and hoping he gets lucky in a tie break. But again Roger has been so clinical in the tie breaks that it would take something out of this world to win one. I think Roddick will serve well and possibly try to attack the net. Once Roger gets the return back and they get into a base line rally, you feel like Roger will get the upper hand on most occasions. And if Roddick comes to the net and gives Roger a sniff at a pass, he will pay the price. For Roddick there is simply no margin for error. It must be a daunting task to say the least.

I mean he knows he must play the match of his life and even then he will probably lose. How much fun can that be? But I guarantee you Roger is not underestimating Roddick and he will treat him with a lot of respect. There is too much on the line for Roger to not take this utterly seriously. I think he will be focused, calm and playing his best tennis tomorrow.

My prediction: Roger in 3.

Pre Final Presser: I didn’t even mention the fact that Roger will become number one again if he wins tomorrow. How awesome is that?! I don’t know why but for some reason that would really satisfy me. Just to see Roger back at the top after all he’s been through would be great. It would be like a new beginning, the start of a new era. In the interview he also says that he won’t be losing any motivation any time soon despite the fact that Mirka is pregnant. He still wants his son to see him play!

http://www.wimbledon.org/en_GB/news/interviews/2009-07-04/200907041246709957062.html

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8 Comments

  1. Wonderful read, Ru-an, much fodder for all the tennis experts to analyze. Tomorrow is the day we all have been hoping for, Roger in the Final of Wimbledon. Your predictions have been accurate so far, may this prediction be the icing of the cake to celebrate. Good luck, Roger. I will be nervous…..

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thank you Dolores. In tennis we know nothing is certain, but i do believe ive been accurate so far and if i am right tomorrow i can be forever wrong thereafter. It would not matter.

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  2. “If you don´t win some tournaments, people say you´re in the decline”Roger´s interview.
    I don´t think that people are Roger´s fans.
    I supported Roger in times of trouble.I took the bad times and i´ll take the good times, i´ll take him just the way he is,i´m a really fan.
    Go Roger!!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes you are :D

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  3. It is imperative for Fed to break Andy early in the first set – that would surely break his resolve and give us fans a tension free match! C’mon Roger!!

    [Reply]

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