'Stars aligned' for Federer to add Slam No. 21

Roger Federer will be hoping for back-to-back wins over both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon. He downed Nadal in four sets in the semi-finals and will meet Djokovic in the final.
Roger Federer will be hoping for back-to-back wins over both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon. He downed Nadal in four sets in the semi-finals and will meet Djokovic in the final. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Roger Federer believes the "stars are aligned" for him to win his ninth Wimbledon title when he plays Novak Djokovic at the All England Club today.

The 37-year-old Swiss, the oldest man to reach the final since 39-year-old Ken Rosewall lost to Jimmy Connors in 1974, has had a year of milestones.

In Dubai, he became the second man after Connors to win 100 career titles and he broke double figures at a single tournament for the first time with a 10th win in Halle.

Another century mark came at Wimbledon, with the quarter-final win over Japan's Kei Nishikori making it 100 victories at the grass-court Grand Slam.

Federer then conquered long-term rival Rafael Nadal 7-6 (7-3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in Friday's semi-finals.

"I think that's why I was able to produce a good result (against Nadal)," said Federer, who will bid for a record-extending 21st Slam in his 12th Wimbledon showdown.

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  • Meetings, including today's Wimbledon final, between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, who has an edge in their head-to-head 25-22.

"It's been a rock solid year. Stars are aligned right now. From that standpoint I can go into the final very confident."

However, he will set foot on Centre Court against the defending champion and top seed Djokovic, who is aiming for a fifth Wimbledon win and a 16th Slam overall.

They have shared the court more times than any other pair on the tour. Ahead of their 48th meeting today, Djokovic, who beat Spanish outsider Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the last four, leads their head-to-head record 25-22.

The 32-year-old has cracked the code on grass with his ability to return Federer's serve effectively, to stay tight to the baseline in rallies, and to defend and counter-attack well in the corners.

Federer needs no reminding, and after summoning the intense concentration and enormous energy necessary to defeat Nadal, he must re-gather himself and try to do the same against Djokovic.

"Of course it's difficult," the Swiss said. "Djokovic stays on his line, hits flat, moves differently and covers the court differently. So for this you have to adjust tactically.

"But the most important thing is the confidence. If you don't have the confidence, it's very difficult to beat Rafa and Novak back to back.

"At the end of the day it also comes very much down to who's better on the day, who's in a better mental place, who's got more energy left, who's tougher when it really comes to the crunch."

Djokovic is aiming to repeat back-to-back Wimbledon successes since he achieved the feat in 2014 and 2015. Both of those triumphs came against Federer and the Serb has already visualised another victory as a mental tactic to prepare himself.

"I think the most important and probably the first win that you have to make is the one within yourself," he said. "Then whatever happens externally is, I guess, a consequence or manifestation of that.

"The visualisation is part of the mental preparation. It's very, very important for me.

"Federer, you know, we all know, how good he is anywhere, but especially here. This surface complements his game very much. He loves to play very fast. Takes away the time from his opponent.

"But I've played with Roger in some finals here a couple a years in a row. So I know what to expect."

DPA, NYTIMES


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 14, 2019, with the headline ''Stars aligned' for Federer to add Slam No. 21'. Print Edition | Subscribe