As July rolls around, it is time for the most famous tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon. This year brings the 132nd edition of Wimbledon at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
Wimbledon surpasses the confines of the sport of tennis, as it has become the event to be at during the month of July for the world elites. With full stands cheering on players and enjoying the beautiful rallies, Wimbledon is an amazing sports experience.
Little has changed at Wimbledon over the years. The air smells of tradition and the players long for the Wimbledon title, unlike any other in the sport of tennis. Especially the two all-time greats have made Wimbledon their playground for more than a decade.
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have won 11 out of the last 15 Wimbledon titles amongst themselves (Federer has 8, Djokovic 3). They have both been etched into Wimbledon lore over the years, making them immortal in the tennis history books.
Roger Federer is the savvy veteran that is fighting off Father Time, yet still delivering amazing performances at age 36. His record 8 Wimbledon titles speak for themselves. At such an advanced age, Federer’s body is not able to take the daily grind of the ATP like it used to, but he still delivers at the biggest stage. And there is no bigger stage for tennis than Wimbledon.
The Serbian terminator, Novak Djokovic has always played with extra motivation at Wimbledon. His 3 Wimbledon titles are a testament to his will and work ethic, two of which he won by directly defeating Roger Federer in the Wimbledon finals.
2018 Wimbledon finds both greats at inopportune times. Federer has been flirting with the No. 1 ranking since the beginning of the 2018 ATP season. He did regain it in March, only to lose it again to Rafael Nadal. He entered 2018 Wimbledon with an intention to further improve on his record 8 titles.
On the other hand, Novak Djokovic has been a shadow of himself since the end of the 2016 ATP Season, the year when he won the famous Nole Slam, holding the title of all 4 major Grand Slam tournaments at the same time. Since then, Djokovic has been ravaged by the injuries and has failed to live up to his high standards. He entered 2018 Wimbledon with a chip on his shoulder, trying to prove that he is still an elite tennis player.
Federer’s Dominance at Wimbledon
Roger Federer has been competing at Wimbledon since the tender age of 18. He broke out at Wimbledon at the age of 22, when he won his first Wimbledon title in 2003, defeating Mark Phillippoussis in 3 sets.
That title in 2003 set off one of the most amazing runs in Wimbledon history. Federer went on to win Wimbledon in 2004 and 2005, by defeating Andy Roddick in the final, as well as 2006 and 2007 when did the same versus Rafael Nadal. Federer’s 5 straight Wimbledon titles equaled Bjorn Borgs achievement from three decades earlier.
The emergence of Rafael Nadal and later Novak Djokovic put an end to Federer’s amazing run at Wimbledon, but he still managed to deliver dominating performances in the tournament. He won his sixth Wimbledon title in 2009, where he defeated Andy Roddick for the third time in the Wimbledon final.
He added to his Wimbledon tally by winning two additional titles in 2012, by defeating Andy Murray in the final and 2017, when a young upstart Marin Cilic fell. With 8 Wimbledon titles, Roger Federer is the winningest tennis player at the tournament and the local crown favorite.
This July, he embarked on a quest for the 9th title and there are very few that doubt the Swiss, despite his advanced age.
Djokovic’s Wimbledon Rollercoaster
Novak Djokovic has struggled early in his career to assert himself among the greatest players in the sport. Playing tennis in the Federer and Nadal era didn’t help Djokovic’s cause either. Trying to win Grand Slam titles in such a competitive field was a truly mammoth task for the young Serbian.
Djokovic’s first Wimbledon tournament was in 2005 at the age of 18. He was knockout out in the 3rd Round. A run of disappointing defeats and early exits continued for the Serbian player until 2011, making the Wimbledon semi-final twice and with no final appearances.
Djokovic finally broke through the field in 2011 at the age of 24, when he made quick work of the defending Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal in 4 sets. This was an amazing year for Djokovic, as he won 3 Grand Slams (Wimbledon, Australian Open and US Open), only losing in the semis of the French Open.
Djokovic was expected to continue dominating Wimbledon as his game has developed, and he became a complete player. Things weren’t as easy for the Serb. In 2012, Roger Federer came back stronger than ever at Wimbledon and ended Djokovic’s run in the semi-final. In 2013, Djokovic made it through the field to the final, only to be defeated by the upstart Andy Murray.
In 2014, Djokovic regained the World No. 1 ranking on the ATP list and didn’t let go of it for the next three years, putting together a run rarely seen in tennis. During that run, Djokovic won at Wimbledon two more times in 2014 and 2015. Both of the times, Roger Federer has been on the receiving end of Djokovic’s amazing form, losing in both finals.
Things took a turn for the worse in late 2016 for the Serbian player. After an amazing 3-year run, he was both physically and emotionally spent and it started to show in his game. Since then Djokovic has failed to reach a semi-final of a Grand Slam tournament.
The injuries to his back, elbow and knee have also caused him to miss significant time as well. 2018 ATP season has so far been a disappointment for Djokovic and he is really motivated to turn it around at Wimbledon, as he made a strong entrance at the tournament.
Federer vs Djokovic
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic rivalry is one of the greatest in the history of the sport. The two have met 45 times and Djokovic holds the slimmest of leads in the rivalry with 22-23 score. They are tied 17-17 on hard courts, tied on clay 4-4, while Djokovic holds a 2-1 lead on grass.
It is important to note that Federer and Djokovic are separated by a 6-year age gap, which play an important part in the history of the rivalry. Before Federer reached the age of 30, he led the rivalry 14-9. Since then Djokovic has won 14 out of 22 matches versus Federer.
Outlook at 2018 Wimbledon
Both Federer and Djokovic have made a strong start to their 2018 Wimbledon campaigns.
In the 1st Round, Federer defeated the young Serbian Dusan Lajovic in three straight sets, 6-1, 6-3, 6-4. The Slovakian Lukas Lacko didn’t fare any better in the 2nd Round, as Federer once again cruised to victory in three straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, 6-1.
Jan-Lennard Struff was Federer’s victim in the 3rd Round of 2018 Wimbledon, once again in three straight sets, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2. Adrian Manarinno wasn’t able to hold off Federer either in the 4th Round, as the Swiss reserved his ticket for the Quarter-Finals with a win in three straight sets, 6-0, 7-5, 6-4.
Djokovic was equally impressive as he quickly brushed Tennys Sandgren aside in the 1st Round with a win in three straight sets, 6-3, 6-1, 6-2. He continued his run with a quick demolition of Horacio Zeballos in the 2nd round, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3.
Djokovic finally dropped a set in the 3rd Round, where he won versus Kyle Edmund with a 3-1 score in sets, 4–6, 6–3, 6–2, 6–4. If there was any doubt that the Serbian was on a mission, it quickly went away as he quickly took care of Karen Khachanov in three straight sets in the 4th Round, 6–4, 6–2, 6–2.
Both Federer and Djokovic have booked their tickets for the Quarter-Finals of 2018 Wimbledon Championships. The road ahead is a daunting one. Roger Federer is set to face No. 8 seed Kevin Anderson who is having a strong Wimbledon himself. A potential opponent in the Semi-Final would come from the winner of Milos Raonic vs John Isner match.
Djokovic’s path is even more difficult. In the Quarter-Finals he will face the No.24 seed Kei Nishikori, who is always motivated against Djokovic. To make things worse, Djokovic will most probably face World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the Semi-Final, unless the Spaniard losses to No.5 seed Juan Martin Del Potro. Getting by Rafael Nadal will require a special performance from the Serbian, something that we haven’t really seen since 2016 ATP Season from him.
If both Federer and Djokovic make their way through the field, it will be the third time they will meet in the Wimbledon final. So far, Djokovic has been the more successful one in those matchups, as he has defeated Federer both previous times, in 2014 and 2015.
However, this is a completely new set of circumstances and both players are facing their own demons. With so much history, titles and pride on the line, that would be a thrilling final to watch.