If you haven’t had a chance to read my breakdown of the draws that leads us to this point, you can check out that post by clicking here.
Assuming the top four make it to the finals, it’s almost anyone’s guess what will happen. But no one wants to read a post where I outline why each of the top 4 seeds could be the eventual champion, right? You expect more than that I’m sure. So here goes…
Even though I am not generally a betting man I would place Rafa and Roger into their 4th Wimbledon final together.
I would take Rafa over Andy Murray by simple virtue of the fact that by the semi-finals of the big events, Rafa is generally playing better and more focused tennis. One only has to look back at the French Open to remind us of what happens when Rafa makes it to the semis. After playing admittedly substandard tennis through many of his opening rounds, Rafa showed up to his semi-final with Any Murray and was pretty much back to his focused and brutal best. It was no cakewalk, but the outcome was never really in question.
As for Andy, and at Wimbledon in particular, he usually starts to play much tighter tennis in the latter stages as the pressure starts to become way too intense for most players to bear. He has done pretty well shouldering the burden of British tennis up to this point. And he has produced some great stuff at Wimbledon in past years. And last week he took the title in convincing style at the AEGON Championships. Still, if each show up to the semi-final focused and play their best on the given day on this particular surface, I choose Rafa.
Nole versus Roger is a much tougher call but one that is still fairly clear in my mind. On clay, I knew that Roger was the only player with enough variety and attack in his game to be able to challenge Novak. Rafa had tried in 4 successive finals to stick to a game plan of trying to break down Novak’s backhand and it had backfired on him each time. It was even odd to see such stubbornness from Rafa in not varying his game to get Novak “out” of his game. Roger too has such bouts of stubbornness, but is more willing to experiment as he gets older (and wiser). I knew that he would mix things up and take away the net whenever possible to help break Novak’s hitting rhythm.
The same could be said of Roger’s strategy on grass. Roger has enough experience and variety undefined read net game undefined to keep Nole from making it a contest of hitting (though Roger displayed at the French that he can still hit with the younger guys as necessary). There is also the belief factor. Roger knows what needs to be done to win here. Novak, confident as he is, still has a bit of doubt about his chances at Wimbledon. He desperately wants to win this title. But unlike clay, he has only had this two week period to hone his game for this “once a year” chance. And given that he pulled out of the Queen’s Club and doesn’t have recent match play under his belt, it could play against him at crunch time against Roger.
Rafa versus Roger in the final … Rafa in 5. I sat long and hard thinking about this choice before typing. It could easily have been Roger in 5. After all, Roger will be highly motivated to set things right after yet another French Open defeat at Rafa’s hands. Again, the experience will be in his favor and his variety on grass is always key in this match-up. Then again, with each successive final these two have played Rafa always managed to perform better than the last. The first final went to 4 sets. The second to 5. The third was finally a victory over Roger in a mammoth 5 set battle lasting into the darkness. Given that match history it’s hard to imagine that Rafa will produce a lesser result than his previous matches. And it must be noted that in that last match Rafa immediately jumped out to a 6-4 6-4 two sets to love lead. He was up in the third set tiebreak, and then fell apart at the finish. If not for that tiebreak performance he would have taken out Roger in straights.
Ultimately it will depend on who shows up the sharpest. These guys know exactly what to expect from one another. There are no secrets. It will come down to execution and desire in the moment. Like I said, it could go either way easily. But you can go ahead and put me down for the Rafa betting line.
Rafa in 5.
This article was written by Kevin Ware - More of his match predictions/event recaps can be found at - http://kevware.com/tennis/