Federer Reaches Record 8th Wimbledon Final
Another match, another record for the Greatest Tennis Player of All Time. Roger Federer calmly dispatched defending champ, top seed and world number 1 Novak Djokovic under a closed roof at Wimbledon's Centre Court, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
It was his serve -- his second serve -- that won the match for him. Federer claimed 72% of his second serve points, compared to Djokovic, who won just 57%. And Fed returned better than Nole, who's considered the best returner in the game right now -- 34% vs. 26%.
More interesting to me is how subdued Federer was in victory. Novak Djokovic has denied Roger Federer a chance at another Slam trophy in 4 of their 5 Slam meet-ups, all semi-finals. You'd think his win today would warrant a little whoo-hoo dance.
“I didn’t break down crying and fell to my knees and thought the tournament is over and I achieved everything I ever wanted,” he said, according to the tournament website. “I know it's been a great tournament, but we'll assess that once the tournament is over. Right now I want to try to play the best possible final I can.”
Haters, I fall to my knees crying before a point is over, let alone a semi-final at Wimbledon. I have great respect for Federer's emotional restraint, especially since he was quite a racquet-busting tennis hater in his junior days.
We'll see who's crying by the end of Sunday's final with The Great British Hope, Andy Murray, who halted Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. Murray hasn't won a set in the last 3 Slam finals he's been in: the 2008 US Open and 2010 Australian Open against Federer, and the 2011 Australian Open against Djokovic.
If I were Murray, my head would feel full of haggis right about now. Talk about pressure. The last man from the Empire to reach the final was Bunny Austin in 1938, and the last to claim the championship was Fred Perry 2 years earlier.
But here was Murray, talking to reporters about getting all teary-eyed after his semi-final triumph.
I think I need to make sure I enjoy myself and enjoy the win. You know, it's not every day you're through to the final of a Grand Slam, and also being at Wimbledon."
Much has been made of Andy's new mental toughness, brought to British tennis fans courtesy of Ivan Lendl, who was known to be a bit of a robot during his career. Retirement and coaching have brought out what The Telegraph called a "jaunty bonhomie" in Lendl, who joshes with Murray during practices and keeps the gloomy Scot from subscribing to the I Hate Tennis RSS feed.
Murray says Lendl gives him "a lot of information on players" in the minutes before a match....so much info that Murray says he now talks to his coach the night before, "so I can sleep on it."
Being a British newspaer, The Telegraph didn't miss a beat, headlining the story, "Lendl's Bedtime Stories Fuel Murray's Dream."
Is it a lighter, easier mood on the court that got Murray to this place? Is it the tactical information? Is it the new, eyes closed, double index finger gesture heavenward?
Or is his secret weapon the little old man Murray keeps in his equipment bag?
I'd love to see Federer win a 17th title, especially at 30. It's encouraging for us middle-aged Haters to know that our bodies and minds are incredible tools that can still adapt and change and reach beyond perceived limitations.
But it'd be even sweeter to have Andy Murray win. I watched Murray at the US Open in 2007, screaming at then-coach Brad Gilbert, as if it was Gilbert's fault that he was melting down in his match against Hyung-Taik Lee. I mean, berating Gilbert, throwing F-bombs, just miserable out there. If a Federer win is a victory for the possibilities in all our games, even as we age and face more physical and mental limitations, then a Murray win would be a fist pump for Haters like me to find new joys -- and new successes -- beyond our wildest dreams.