Federer eyes Wimbledon record; Says 'energised and eager to play'

Roger Federer targets a record eighth Wimbledon title Sunday against Novak Djokovic who is desperate to end a stretch of Grand Slam finals defeats which are threatening to shatter his legacy.

Federer, 32, won the first of his 17 majors at Wimbledon in 2003 and the most recent in 2012 but his failure to return to a Grand Slam final since has had his critics penning his career obituary.

Six-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic, the 2011 Wimbledon winner, will be playing in his third All England Club final in four years, but the 27-year-old has lost seven of his 13 finals at the majors, including five of the last six.

“Clearly I am very excited for the final, because that's how you want to feel before a final,” said Federer following a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Milos Raonic in Friday’s semi-finals. “I am totally energised and eager to play.”

Federer will look to extend his 18-16 Head to Head advantage when the former champions meet for the 2014 title at the All England Club. A series that has spanned eight years, 34 encounters and included countless unforgettable moments, there will be no secrets when the Serb and the Swiss take to Centre Court on Sunday.

Sunday's final will be their 11th meeting at the Grand Slam level. Federer leads 6-5 in that.

Only once have they met at Wimbledon when Federer won their 2012 semi-final in four sets and only once before have they clashed in a Grand Slam final - at the 2007 US Open where Djokovic, making his first appearance in a final at the majors, lost in straight sets as the Swiss captured a fourth successive title in New York.

“I must say I've enjoyed the matches against him,” said Federer of his rivalry with Djokovic. “We didn't come through the rankings together, so I was established while he was coming up. I think it was totally different for both of us. We saw each other in a different light than we see each other today when we're both ranked high, we both achieved a lot. Things have clearly changed over time. But ever since he's won Grand Slams and became World No. 1, it's been a cool rivalry, in my opinion.”

Federer is seeking his third victory over Djokovic in four meetings this year, triumphing on the hard courts of Dubai and the clay of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Monte-Carlo. His lone defeat came in the final of the BNP Paribas Open, in Indian Wells.

The Basel native understands the challenges of topping Djokovic on any surface and acknowledges the Serb will be extra motivated with a Wimbledon crown hanging in the balance.

“Well, we both like to be close to the baseline,” assessed Federer. “We both like to take charge, especially on quicker courts. He has a wonderful way of either redirecting or taking the ball early, taking pace from the opponent and even generating some of his own.

“I think that's what makes him so hard to play. There's not really a safe place you can play into. Novak can hurt you down the line or cross-court on both sides. He's really improved now through the years. I've seen him come through the (ATP Rankings). His forehand, his serve, his movement clearly is what stands out the most at this moment now. He's really been able to improve that and make it rock solid."

The oldest finalist on the lawns of Wimbledon since Ken Rosewall (39) in 1974, Federer is attempting to become the first man to win eight titles at SW19, having prevailed in 2003-’07, ’09 and most recently in 2012. Having been on this stage on so many occasions, the 17-time Grand Slam champion is aware of what it will take to hoist the trophy.

“I think for me it's really important to stay aggressive against him, and especially here at Wimbledon it's simpler how we need to play against each other,” added Federer. “It's not like on a slow court where you can maybe maneuver the other guy around so much. I think on grass it's a bit more straightforward and we're both aware of that.”

Federer, who will rise to the No. 3 position in the ATP Rankings on Monday, is bidding to win the Gerry Weber Open and Wimbledon in the same calendar year for the fifth time. He also achieved the feat in 2003-'06. It will be the 10th time he duels with rival Novak Djokovic with a tour-level trophy on the line.

“You've got to love the game, because if you don't love it, then it's just going to be too hard," added Federer regarding his motivation. "I think that's kept me going quite easily actually, because I know why I'm playing tennis. Deep down that's really important.”

Federer attributes his return to the title match at the All England Club to the hard work his team has put in on and off the court. He credits his camp for his strong performance this fortnight.

“Stefan is clearly a piece of the puzzle, so is my fitness coach, Severin, and everybody around me,” the Swiss said. “They make it possible for me to wake up every morning motivated, healthy, fit, and eager to play. It's clearly a team effort to a degree.”

Djokovic has lost five of his last six Grand Slam finals and all of the last three - to Andy Murray at Wimbledon in 2013, Rafael Nadal at the 2013 US Open and to Nadal again at this year's French Open.

Unlike Federer and Nadal, he is still without the career Grand Slam which every player craves having lost both his Paris finals to the world number one Spaniard.

“Losing three out of four last Grand Slam finals, it cannot be satisfying. I don't want to sound like I'm not appreciating to play finals of Grand Slams. It's already a huge result. We cannot take that for granted,” said Djokovic.

“I know that I can win the title. I should have won a few matches that I lost in finals of Grand Slams in last couple years. But it's an experience. It's a learning process.”

Date: 5th July 2014, Source: ATP and AFP


Post a Comment