Re: Hasta-la-vista London Monday
This, to me, is the most important match of the year. Obviously, its not a Grand Slam final but it pits the world #1 against the world #2, both guys who have won a slam this year, guys who have split their 4 meetings at 2 apiece this year and the two men who have jockeyed for position to hold the world #1 ranking. The prize money is nothing to be ashamed of either as the winner will take home almost a million more dollars than the runner up and the winning prize is worth 1.7 million dollars which is more than 2 out of the 4 slams paid. In addition, we all know whats at stake as far as ranking points go. If Djokovic wins he has almost a 3000 point lead to hold onto the top spot and if Federer can hold on he'll still have some breathing room between himself and Murray for the #2 spot along with a shot at regaining the world #1 with an explosive effort in Melbourne.
What a win yesterday for Roger. It looked like it would be 3 in a row for Murray over Fed being up 3-1* 0-30, being just two points away from earning a double break, absolutely obliterating the world #2's second serve but Roger showed something in this one he hasn't show previously in a match against Murray. Federer made the needed adjustments, kept Murray guessing on second serve deliveries and served like the legend he is to get the break back, force a tiebreaker, and then just imposed his will on the Scot, who continued to show a lack of fighting spirit in a matches where he falls behind.
The key to any match for Federer against Djokovic and Murray is, without a doubt, how Roger serves. The Swiss #1 only served 54% yesterday but the key # was that he won 63% of his second serve deliveries which is excellent against a returner of Murray's caliber. In contrast, the two met in Shanghai about 3 weeks ago and although Fed served 58%, he only won 36% of second serves. Theres no stats from the Olympics where Federer played terribly by his standards but at Wimbledon, where I believe that through the first 3 sets both men played absolutely brilliant tennis, Federer served like a monster getting in 68% of his first serve offerings which was needed because on that day he only won 48% of his second serve points.
Fed and Nole have split 4 meetings this year with Fed getting dominated twice in 3 weeks on clay where I believe Djokovic holds a massive edge. Federer returned the favor with his second best win of the season beating the world #1 in 4 at Wimbledon and then of course the straight set victory in Cincinatti where Fed bageled a jaded Nole before having just enough to hold on in a second set tiebreaker. Clay statistics have absolutely zero bearing on this match since the two surfaces couldn't be anymore different so I'm going to look at the serve stats from Wimby and one of the fastest hard courts on the tour in Cincinatti.
At Wimby, Fed served 64%, winning a blistering 72% of his second serve points. In Cincy, Fed again was brilliant serving only 58% but again winning 65% of his second serve points. Djokovic is the best returner in the world, just slightly better than Murray, but I think he has much more difficulty reading Federer's serve than Murray does hence the Swiss maestro's 16-12 head to head advantage. In my humble opinion, theres two key numbers tomorrow for Federer and they both happen to be the same digit. 60%. If Federer serves 60%+ and wins 60+% of his second serve deliveries than he'll win in straight sets.
Federer has gone through these two back to back earlier this year. He did it when he beat Djokovic in the semis and Murray in the final at Wimbledon. The key then, again, was how brilliantly he served. Unfortunately for the Fed camp he's been under 60% all week except for against Delpo which ironically was the only match he lost in the round robin format. The reason? I think it was because Federer knows that JMDP can't hurt him on the return nearly as much as Murray, Ferrer, and Djokovic can so he gave himself more margin for error and benefited from having less pressure on his shoulders. Its all about the serve for Fed tomorrow.
Here's some other interesting numbers. Federer this year on indoor HC is 12-2. Djokovic is 4-1. We all know the success that Roger has had at this venue and the lack thereof for Djokovic. Nole has struggled to a 9-5 mark here with zero titles at the O2 including this year whereas Fed is 15-3 having won the event two years running. Make no mistake about it, not all hard courts are the same. Djokovic is the best hardcourt player in the world but its tough to argue that Fed is the best INDOOR hardcourt player on the planet. The surface in Australia, especially at night when these two meet, favors Djokovic big time. As we all know, Fed's groundies have a reduced impact on slower surfaces and since its easier to keep the ball in play he has to hit more shots, hence more errors. In fact heres a stat that will blow minds: In a 3 set loss to Nole at the French, Federer had 52 unforced errors. At Wimbledon, Federer had only 16 unforced errors in 4 sets. Absolutely astonishing. Today, the surface will call for a lot of quick points which means Federer has to hit fewer shots which, as we all know, means much fewer unforced errors.
No lead is ever safe against Nole something Federer has come to learn the hard way and although he's got a clean sheet this week against some pretty imposing competition he hasn't faced anyone like Federer. It won't be easy, but the bookies are pricing this match based on it being played on a slower hardcourt. On this surface were Federer is usually magnificent we're going to see a lot of quick rallies that Fed wins on serve and on the return he'll get plenty of chances to get ahead of Nole's serve and take very quick control of the point. As amazing as the Serb's retrieval skills are no one can defend for too long on this surface. In his third biggest win of the year Federer lifts yet another WTF trophy and ends another epic year the right way.
Roger Federer to beat Novak Djokovic at 2.4
Roger Federer +1.5 games over Novak Djokovic at 1.91
Roger Federer +2 games 1.80 over Novak Djokovic
Roger Federer +2.5 games 1.65 over Novak Djokovic
Roger Federer wins first set over Novak Djokovic at 2.15