Wimbledon 2019 Men’s Final Preview: Novak Djokovic v Roger Federer6 min read
“At 3/1 compared to Djokovic’s 5/4, Federer represents value and is my pick for glory.”
That’s a line from my pre-tournament preview a couple of weeks ago.
The prices are into 8/15 and 6/4 respectively ahead of Sunday’s Wimbledon men’s singles final and, given those figures, my assessment remains the same.
Don’t get me wrong, Djokovic is the correct favourite. He’s beaten Federer in eight of their last 10 meetings and has now won a remarkable 33 of his last 34 Grand Slam matches. He’s the world number one for a reason.
Federer can challenge
However, Federer has been a player who has been able to consistently challenge the Serb and notably he’s enjoyed real success against him at the venues which favour his game. Wimbledon, where he’s an eight-time champion, is another of those.
Since their thrilling 2014 final in SW19, Federer has claimed victories over Djokovic in Cincinnati, Dubai and Shanghai – all tournaments with conditions which aid the Swiss.
As has been publicised, the Wimbledon courts have played slower this year but that hasn’t stopped Federer marching into the final and he’ll have taken much from Friday’s four-set win over Rafael Nadal, who would have fancied his chances on a slower-than-expected court.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 12, 2019
Despite the drop in pace, the surface still aids Federer’s feared serve – a weapon which has looked in good order in his last two matches. Also, the lower bounce is a boost for the older player, whose slice is one of the best in the business.
How often we see that stroke remains to be seen though. Significantly, Federer was hitting over his backhand with great regularity against Nadal and with winners arguably even harder to hit against Djokovic, it’s surely a tactic which he’ll employ frequently again on Sunday.
Break chances likely
While I’ve pointed out where Federer’s wins have come, it’s also worth considering how he’s pushed Djokovic elsewhere too.
The Swiss usually creates plenty of opportunities for himself against Djokovic but taking them has often been the problem.
At the 2015 US Open, he went 4-for-23 (lost in four sets) and in their last meeting here, also in 2015, the stat was 1-for-7 (lost in four again).
Those matches – just like their last in Paris at the end of 2018 which was won 7-6 in the third by Djokovic – were tight and Djokovic’s ability to save break points was arguably the difference.
Of course, he could come up such saving plays again here but I’d certainly expect Federer to create opportunities – if he can take them then 6/4 looks good.
The fact that Djokovic is yet to face top-20 opposition at this tournament is also a plus for the more battle-hardened Federer.
Step up for Djokovic
This is a big step up for the Serb, albeit one he is doubtless capable of making. Whether he will or not though is another matter.
Against the best players, Djokovic hasn’t been totally convincing since his superb efforts in Australia at the start of the season.
In Rome, he should have lost to Juan Martin Del Potro but battled back from match point down. Two days later he was defeated by Nadal.
Then at the French Open he was beaten by Dominic Thiem.
Djokovic v Federer H2H:
— Andy Schooler (@SchoolerSport) July 12, 2019
He has dropped sets here to both Hubert Hurkacz and Roberto Bautista Agut and he’ll again have to deal with a partisan crowd – something that has certainly annoyed him in the past, most recently on Friday.
Despite Djokovic’s almighty defensive skills, Federer’s game is capable of causing damage in this match and backing the underdog looks the way to go.
As far as the set betting is concerned, a four-set Federer win makes some appeal at 5/1 if you are looking for a bigger price.
Federer to win –