Tennis: Federer v Djokovic preview

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Roger Federer will be going for a record eighth Wimbledon title and 18th Grand Slam championship when he takes on 2011 winner Novak Djokovic in what promises to be a titanic showdown on Sunday.
The 32-year-old Swiss grass master dismissed Milos Raonic 6-4 6-4 6-4 to reach his ninth final at the All England Club, while top seed Djokovic defeated Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7/2) 7-6 (9/7) as the threat of the established order being overthrown fell flat.
In what will be his 25th championship match at a Grand Slam, Federer, who becomes the oldest man to make a Grand Slam final since Andre Agassi reached the 2005 Australian Open final at the age of 33, holds an 18-16 career lead over Djokovic, including a victory in their only previous major final meeting, at the 2007 US Open.
Federer has also beaten Djokovic in two out of three meetings in 2014 and is looking forward to renewing their “cool” rivalry which stretches back to 2006.
“Novak and myself always play good matches,” said Federer, who will surpass Pete Sampras and William Renshaw as the only man with eight Wimbledon singles titles if he beats the Serb.
“He is a great champion and is used to these occasions. He’s got the trophy here in the past and knows how it’s done.
“I know I don’t have 10 years left, so I’m going to try and enjoy it as much as I can. That I get another chance to go through these kinds of emotions is great.
“I must say I’ve enjoyed the matches against him. We didn’t come through the rankings together; I was established while he was coming up. But ever since he’s won grand slams and became world No 1, it’s been a cool rivalry, in my opinion.”
Big challenge
Djokovic, a six-time major winner, will be targeting a seventh title in his third final in four years in southwest London.
The world No 2, who lost to Federer in the semi-finals in 2012, can also reclaim top spot in the rankings from Rafael Nadal for the first time since September 2013 if he lifts the trophy.
Djokovic has been beaten in five of his last six Grand Slam final appearances, though, with his last major triumph coming at the 2013 Australian Open, and he has admitted he is desperate to end that frustrating run.
“I’m looking forward to another championship match, especially considering I have lost the last couple of finals. It’s a big challenge.” said Belgrade-born Djokovic, who is itching to claim another major.
“It’s a good chance for me to try to win against him on his favourite surface, on his favourite court.
“This is where he has had the most success in his career, winning many titles but I know that I can win.
“I should have won a few matches that I lost in finals of grand slams over the last couple of years.
“But it’s an experience. It’s a learning process. It’s understanding, identifying where the problem is, pushing for it and working on it.”
Super coaches While two of the game’s most recognisable figures meet on Centre Court, their ‘super coaches’ will be pitted against each other once again at the tournament, but this time from the players’ box.
Former champions Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg were embroiled in one of the All England Club’s fiercest rivalries from 1988 to 1990, competing in three successive finals with Edberg winning two of them.
Since then the pair have turned their attention to coaching, with Djokovic and Becker joining forces in December of last year and Federer and Edberg following suit.
“It’s going really well,” Federer said of his relationship with Swede Edberg. “My game’s back where I hoped it would be from one year ago.
“Stefan is clearly a piece of the puzzle, so is my fitness coach, Severin (Luthi), and everybody around me. They make it possible for me to wake up every morning motivated, healthy, fit and eager to play.”
Federer blamed his wretched 2013 on persistent back trouble, including suffering a shock second round exit at the hands of Sergiy Stakhovsky at Wimbledon, although he has since made good on his promise to launch a full-scale recovery by reaching yet another final.
Next year will mark 30 years since Becker triumphed as a 17-year-old and the once-fierce competitor is enjoying the latest stage of his tennis career, after his playing days and several years in the commentary booth.
When the call came from Djokovic, Becker was easily prised away from the microphone.
“With a player like Novak Djokovic, coaching is very easy,” Becker said. “He is one of the finest out there, he’s a great student, he wants to get better, he wants to play better, and it’s a pleasure working with him.”
Remarkably, Sunday’s clash will be the first final in 19 Grand Slams that won’t feature either Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray.
And although Djokovic will walk out as favourite he will have his work cut out to prevent a resurgent Federer making Centre Court his stage once again.

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