The best two players in men’s tennis square off in the US Open final today. It was the match everyone wanted/expected and now we all wait to see what will go down in a few hours from now on. Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have been the best two players in the world for the last two years. Novak is undisputedly the world number one but a case can be made for Federer being the better player at the moment.
The Swiss and the Serb have already met many times this year. Their last major clash was at Wimbledon where Djokovic was able to get the better of Federer with his relentless style of play. Federer got a small amount of revenge a few weeks later at Cincinnati when he was able to take down Novak rather easily courtesy a hyper aggressive style that included a new tactic, uniquely named as SABR. The quick courts also helped Roger in turning the match in his favour.
However, the US Open final is a different beast. The courts are different, the crowd is different and the match is a best of 5 event that will test the mental and physical endurance of both players. But these two legends of the game already know all of this and will be up for the task. The Federer-Djokovic rivalry is one of the best in this sport and one of the most evenly matched. The 21-20 record in favour of Federer, spread evenly across all surfaces and the big tournaments, is a testament to both player’s abilities and achievements.
At this stage of their career, every tournament they enter, every final they play has the potential to add to their already overflowing resume. For the world number one Djokovic, winning his second US Open would be his third of the year and second on the trot. He has surprisingly lost four finals here already, something about the court, the conditions and the crowd just doesn’t sit well with him, I guess. For Roger Federer, a sixth US Open title will only further solidify the widely held opinion that he is the greatest player of all time. After coming agonizingly close to capturing his 18th slam a few times in the past, a title here will be perfect vindication to all the changes he has incorporated in his game, all the heart break he had to endure and all the sacrifices he had to make.
To beat Djokovic though, Federer has to bring out his A+ game for the entire match. Against the best returner on the planet, Federer’s serve better be immaculate so that he can accumulate all the cheap points he can get. First serve percentage needs to be high and a ton of aces will only aid the cause even more! Now all that is just one part of the equation, the Swiss has to pounce on whatever opportunities and half chances he gets on Djokovic’s serve as well. Historically, Federer has been infamous for wasting break point chances, much to the dismay of his legion of fans. He simply can’t afford to do that. Of course, Novak will also have a huge say in that; his serve in key moments has really improved under Boris Becker as we found out in the last two Wimbledon finals. So it is imperative that Federer asserts himself on Djokovic’s service games as much as possible and walks away with the crucial breaks of serve.
So who would actually go on to win? Of course, I want Roger Federer to win. It is not going to be easy but maybe, just maybe he has a slightly better chance here than at Wimbledon. From the players point of view, it seems the court is slightly quicker now than before. I can safely assume the crowd will be more in favour of Federer than Djokovic, say 60-40. That won’t affect Novak much but what if the crowd is overwhelmingly against him? And then what about the conditions, will it rain? Will it be hot and humid? How will that affect each player? So many questions, so very few answers. One thing I know is that if this final is going to be anything like their previous five encounter in New York, then tennis fans all over the world are in for one hell of a treat.
Prediction: Roger Federer to win his 18th Grand Slam and 6th in New York.