When you really think about it, this has to be hard.
Here’s Roger, 30 years old and possibly on the long slow downside of what’s been an amazing career, one of the best ever, these days having to face Novak, 24, surging and powerful, and obviously just having hit his stride as the world’s best player. Roger’s had to watch as Djoko surpassed him and surpassed also Rafael Nadal, the third of the era’s three great male tennis players. Djokovic has summarily, invincibly destroyed all comers almost all the time for about the last 18 months – and if you’re Roger, this trend has to be disheartening.
It has to be tough to be Roger and stand facing Djoko across the net, knowing the guy is pretty much unbeatable even if you play as well as you’ve ever played. But this time, in the Wimbledon semifinal, Roger did put together one of his best-ever matches, and this time it was good enough (6-3 3-6 6-4 6-3) to send Djokovic to the locker rooms and out of the tournament early.
Instead, it’s Federer who moves on to the finals against Scot Andy Murray, another crowd favourite who’s been around a long time. Remarkably, Roger has never lost a Wimbledon semi-final…and in winning again today, he reaches his record eighth Wimbledon final.
Here’s Federer: “I played a great match today and it’s been a tough tournament for me really. But I was able to play some fantastic tennis today and I thought Novak played good too. It was a lot of fun out there today…I have pressure but I’m excited about it.”
That last part, as much as anything else, may illustrate the mental edge Roger was able to bring to a seemingly insurmountable task like beating Djokovic. And if he beats Murray to in Wimbledon, he will return to world #1, a position he has held for a total of 285 weeks – one short of Pete Sampras’ mark. A win would also equal Sampras’s seven Wimbledon titles.
And – back to the “how do we beat Djokovic” issue – Federer’s win has to be motivating for Nadal, Murray, Tsonga, and all the other top-10 guys who have over the last year and a half hated the sight of Novak across the net. He’s been beaten, but not by many, and not in many situations as important as the Wimbledon semifinal.