Murray sets up date with destiny
TENNIS:ANDY MURRAY, the front man for a nation, must find a way past the greatest player in tennis history, Roger Federer in tomorrow’s men’s singles final at Wimbledon. The collision will be emotive, irrespective of who prevails.
History is peering over the shoulder of both players, awaiting revision and to determine who will pen the new chapter. It was an enthralling afternoon and evening on Centre Court. Federer decanted a vintage performance, reminiscent of his pomp, to defy his nemesis Novak Djokovic in glorious fashion. For once the Serbian could not extricate himself from his predicament and was dethroned as champion.
Federer had lost on the last seven occasions they met, twice enduring the agony of not being able to convert match points in Grand Slams, but this win will provide a salve for those memories. Triumphing in four sets, 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-3 under a closed roof, the Swiss was master of his favourite environment. Although they had squared up 26 times previously, it had never been on grass.
Federer played with an intensity that never waned from the first point to the service winner that confirmed him as victor two hours and 29 minutes later. The key to his victory, apart from serving authoritatively, was the aggression with which he pursued his ground-strokes. He alternated between slicing deep and hitting his backhand, denying his opponent an easy rhythm.
He moved Djokovic around the court, engineering positions to open his shoulders and also cut off court space by taking the net, daring his opponent to find the lines. Djokovic couldn’t manage it often enough.
His despair in the shoddy manner in which he coughed up his serve to lose the third set permeated his play at the start of the fourth, where he was broken again. He wasn’t moving well, going for two many low percentage options.
Forlorn glances to his entourage underlined his perplexed state of mind. The Serbian admitted: “Well, I thought from the beginning of the match up to the end of the third set we were quite even. I dropped the percentage of the first serve at the end of the third set.
“A bad service game on 5-4, and obviously he uses his opportunities when they’re presented. You have to be consistent; I wasn’t. In the start of the fourth set I dropped in the energy level. I played a couple of sloppy games; very slow, with no pace, very low percentage of first serves.”
Federer acknowledged that he had played superbly and was now within touching distance of equalling Peter Sampras’s record of a seventh title. His victory yesterday meant that he stands alone as the only man to reach eight Wimbledon finals.
“I’m very proud to have a shot of equalling Pete. Obviously I’d love to win the title. I have one more match to go. I’m aware of that. Still it’s always nice beating someone like Novak, who has done so well here last year; the last couple of years. We’ve never played on grass. It was obviously a big occasion. These matches only help my confidence. I hope I can use it then for the final.”