THE CHAMPIONSHIPS 2012
Federer Reaches Record Eighth Wimbledon Final With Four-Set Win Over Djokovic
by James Buddell|
Third seed and six-time former titlist Roger Federer defeated top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Friday at The Championships. The Swiss superstar will now have an opportunity to become No. 1 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings on Monday with victory in his eighth Wimbledon final.
Once rain started to fall at 7:15 a.m., Wimbledon Referee Andrew Jarrett had no choice but to close the Centre Court roof well before play got underway at 1:11 p.m. Both players had trained indoors at Aorangi Park mid-morning.
The first set went with serve until the sixth game, when, at 30/30, Djokovic was drawn to the net. Attempting to split-step for a volley, he slipped. Federer converted the break point when Djokovic hit a crosscourt backhand into the net. Federer went onto hold to love for a 5-2 lead.
Federer, who tried to avoid getting into long baseline rallies, honed in on Djokovic’s backhand throughout the 24-minute opener, which he clinched with a love service hold. Federer hit seven winners, including a forehand winner down the line to finish, and committed just two unforced errors. He won 20 of his 24 service points.
Djokovic grew in confidence throughout the second set. No longer hesitant in striking his backhand, the Serbian opened up a 2-0 lead with a backhand winner down the line. Federer couldn't quite come back from losing the first two points of the game. The service break proved to be enough for Djokovic, who clinched the set in 30 minutes with tennis of the highest quality.
At the start of the third set, a key stage of the match, both players were not playing with great fluency. Federer made two costly errors at 15/30 and 30/40 in the second game, when he missed a backhand and forehand respectively, with the court at his disposal. Djokovic held on, in a 10-point game.
The temperature on Centre Court rose dramatically at 2-3, 30/30, when Djokovic hit his second double fault of the match. With each player taking mighty blows in a 23-stroke rally, Federer mis-timed a forehand wide to get Djokovic back to deuce. Ninety seconds later, after a 25-shot rally, Federer set up his second break point opportunity. Djokovic played with confidence, hitting close to the baseline to save the point, and went onto level at 3-3 after eight dramatic minutes of play.
Federer survived a wobble at 4-4, when, at 30-all, rather than hit a backhand he ran round for a forehand blow. He missed it, but saved the break point with a well-placed serve to frustrate Djokovic. At 5-4, it was Federer’s turn to raise his game. When Djokovic smashed long, it gifted Federer two set point chances. Djokovic saved the first at 15/40, but Federer cleaned up with a smash winner to take a two-sets-to-one lead.
Federer maintained his dominance in the fourth set, quickly moving into a 3-0 lead. At this stage, the Swiss superstar had won 21 of the past 30 points by virtue of clinical finishing as much as Djokovic’s errors. Djokovic, normally so strong on his backhand wing, began to feel the strain. At 1-4, the top seed saved three break points from 0/40. By contrast, Federer clinched his service games with little resistance.
At 5-3, Federer appeared to be nervous when he started to serve for a place in a record eighth Wimbledon final. He couldn’t hit a first serve into court through the first four points. But an ace and an unreturned serve gave Federer a place in his 24th major championship final after two hours and 19 minutes of play. The third seed is now 65-7 lifetime at the All England Club.
Federer and Djokovic were both applauded off Centre Court by His Royal Highness The Duke of York, plus several former champions, including Frank Sedgman, Rod Laver, Manuel Santana and Goran Ivanisevic, among the capacity crowd.