Saturday, 5 July 2014

The New Generation again falls short

For all the talk about how the men's game is being revitalised with the exciting new group of young players threatening the long and increasingly mind numbing reign of the "Fab Four", we have another final at Wimbledon featuring two of the four.  It will be Novak Djokovic in the final for the third time in four years, and attempting to take home his second grass court Grand Slam title, in the process avenging his loss to Roger Federer in the 2012 semi final here.
For Federer, this will be his first Grand Slam final since his 2012 Wimbledon win, and only his third such appearance since he won the 2010 Australian Open.  Djokovic in that same period has experienced eleven finals, winning five.
Based on that trend data, this could be one of Roger's last chances to add to his large trophy haul at the highest level.

So how did the two finalists finally achieve their spots in the Sunday finale?

Novak had the first semi final with which to deal, and his problems were provided by Andy Murray's conqueror, Grigor Dimitrov.  The first set issues were handled with apparent comfort, as the Serbian game was put on show for all to enjoy,  apart from the Bulgarian and his supporters, who frankly found it a damn nuisance.
The Djokovic serve was superb, for three games not needing to call on a second delivery, and the ground shots were hit with variety of pace and bounce, asking for all the skill that Grigor could muster just to remain even on the scoreboard.

Even it was, except for the disastrous fifth game, in which Dimitrov lost focus, direction, his mind, and four points, gifting the break of serve to the number one seed.  The rest of the set was played just to make up the numbers because the rules say so, and Grigor produced his best in these five games; sadly for him so too did Novak, and the latter wrapped it up 6-4.

Although Dimitrov made headway on the Djokovic serve in the early part of set two, it was not sufficent to prevent the resourceful Serb from fighting off break points and in turn breaking the Bulgarian effort. At 3-1 Novak must have felt secure.  Then a Wimbledon weirdness wafted over the court, announcing itself with five straight games to Grigor.  His second love behind tennis, Maria Sharapova, might have screamed in delight, but she only does that on court to annoy and obstruct, so I guess she just smiled for photographers, while the players box went wild.

Djokovic had left the set unlocked for only a moment and it was stolen away from him 6-3.

The third and fourth sets were close affairs, each going to a tie break.  At times Novak looked vulnerable to the serve and forehand combination of Dimitrov which was working more consistently now.  The breaker in set three saw Djokovic up the ante and Dimitrov simply was left at the start, and when he double faulted, the set was effectively gone.

At two sets to one up, the Djokovic win was close, and when he broke early (based on multiple double faults, not anything special from Novak) in the fourth for a 2-1 lead the next two players began walking out from the dressing room.  
They quickly turned back the next game as Novak lost his concentration and serve.

Djokovic scrambled for most of the rest of the set, saving break points and even a set point at 4-5 before eventually forcing the second tie break.  Dimitrov dominated to take a 6-3 point lead and have three chances to tie the match.  However, another amazing effort from the 2011 champ extinguished those opportunities, and ultimately the likely set win for Grigor turned horrifically into a match win for Novak 6-4 3-6 7-6 7-6

Roger Federer had nowhere near the bother with his semi final opponent, beginning by breaking the much lauded Milos Raonic serve in the opening game.  Federer's variety of shot making and ability to return enough of the Canadian's thunderbolts had Raonic searching for a Plan B almost immediately.

That service break was enough for the seven time winner of this title, although at 4-3 Federer had to defend a break back point.  The 6-4 scoreline was the same as the first set in the first semi, but the gap between the players in this match was in fact much larger.

Although Raonic managed to hold his serve with consistent ease in the second set for the most part, it only required a few minutes of class from Federer to turn the situation on its head.  A couple of lovely Swiss backhands interspersed with some errant ground strokes from Raonic created a break in the ninth game, and another 6-4 set was picked up by Federer on the way back to his chair.

The symmetry was complete when in the ninth game of the third and final set, Raonic's last resistance crumbled, his once mighty serve was broken again, and the highly successful tournament was over for this Canadian 6-4 6-4 6-4. 

Roger can expect far more pressure from the Novak racquet in a Wimbledon final which promises much.

No comments:

Post a Comment