Although we lost Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal early in the Fortnight, few tennis fans could have asked for a stronger Gentlemen’s Singles final. With No.1 Novak Djokovic facing No.2 Andy Murray, the top two men on the ATP Tour will attempt to add to their Grand Slam title count, while Murray additionally faces the pressure of a nation hopeful that he can become the first man to claim a Wimbledon singles crown since 1936.
As Murray aims to make history, how do the players match up and who has the greatest shot at winning?
Djokovic and Murray have a rivalry that’s stretched through 18 matches and four previous major finals. The Serb leads 11 wins to 7, including the last three matches and their only meeting this year at the Australian Open final.
Murray, however, won their only battle on grass in the semi-final of the 2012 London Olympics. Then, the Brit won 7-5, 7-5 en route to bringing home the gold medal to London. Murray also claimed their match at the US Open in five sets to win his maiden major title.
Interestingly, three of those four Grand Slam encounters have been five-set epics. At Wimbledon and gunning for the biggest title in tennis, there’s no reason why that shouldn’t happen once again.
Keys to success
Both men have proven time and again that they’re huge competitors when it counts most, especially over the course of this Fortnight. They’re two of the best players defensively and can switch to attack at a moment’s notice.
For Djokovic, playing against Murray will be an extreme test of fitness. In the semi-final, he played the longest in Wimbledon history against Juan Martin Del Potro, weathering fearsome forehands and raw power from the Argentine. The Serb didn’t falter when it appeared he may as he won 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-7(6), 6-3 in a four hour and 43 minute.
But Murray, too, has had a long road. He came back from two sets down against Fernando Verdasco in the quarter-finals and survived four sets against a champion in the making in Jerzy Janowicz.
In all, Murray has played 25 minutes more than his Serbian opponent.
There’s a reason, of course, that Murray enjoyed so much success on grass last year and there’s little reason to doubt his desire to win the title after an emotional runner-up speech following his loss to Federer.
Will Djokovic stand in his way? If his body can hold up well enough.
Murray and Djokovic are two of the most dominant competitors on the ATP Tour this season, each winning three titles. In fact, they’re tied for second place behind Rafael Nadal’s seven victories on clay this year.
One of Murray’s came on grass at Queen’s Club, while Djokovic’s last title win came at the Monte Carlo event in April. He is bidding to take his seventh grand slam and his second Wimbledon crown.
Murray, who is aiming to emulate Virginia Wade’s 1977 Wimbledon win, is also trying to continue his 12-match win streak in his fourth, consecutive Grand Slam final.
Djokovic has proven time and again that he has the ability to beat anyone in the world, including Murray, even when the odds are against him. He starts the match as favourite.
Their past head-to-head record is sure to give him added confidence, while Djokovic doesn’t have the same pressure as the Brit, who plays with the country’s wishes on his shoulders.
But Murray is a true competitor, as he proved four weeks after his defeat by Federer in the Wimbledon final by beating him in the Olympic Games.
Murray’s second time into the final might just be what he needs to break the singles title drought for the British on Centre Court at SW19.
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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