Wimbledon 2011: Men’s Final

What a fortnight it’s been, with new stars emerging and the spectacle of great tennis seen all around the grounds, we’ve finally reached our final day of the tournament. It all leads to the final two men in the draw. Current world number one Rafael Nadal will take on the new number one Novak Djokovic for the title of Wimbledon Champion 2011.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal playing for his third wimbledon title.

  •  1st Round: Michael Russell 6-4 6-2 6-2
  • 2nd Round: Ryan Sweeting 6-3 6-2 6-4
  • 3rd Round: Gilles Muller 7-6 (6) 7-6 (5) 6-0
  • 4th Round: Juan Martin Del Potro 7-6 (8) 3-6 7-6(4) 6-4
  • Quarter Final: Mardy Fish 6-3 6-3 5-7 6-4
  • Semi Final: Andy Murray 5-7 6-2 6-2 6-4

The final of 2007 was the last time Rafael Nadal has lost a Wimbledon match. Ever since then, the Spaniard has won 20 straight matches on the All-England-Match, which excludes his withdrawal from the 2009 tournament. The world number 1 now faces the challenge of rival Novak Djokovic. Nadals recent performances has shown his obvious adjustment to the grass game from his clay dominance.  He’s sailed in the first two rounds of the tournament and was mentally stronger than Muller in the third. In the next three rounds, he would lose one set in each match against former US Open champion Del Potro, American Mardy Fish and British hope Andy Murray to reach another Wimbledon slam final.

However Nadal’s status as the number one player in the world has now been taken by his opponent and regardless of how he does today, he will no longer hold the position. Nadal’s aggressive left-hander style has earned him the place as one of the best players of the sport. But can he summon the strength against the ATP’s new world number one and defend his title?

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic finally reaches his number 1 goal.

  • 1st Round: Jeremy Chardy 6-4 6-1 6-1
  • 2nd Round: Kevin Anderson 6-3 6-4 6-2
  • 3rd Round: Marcos Baghdatis 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-4
  • 4th Round: Michael Llodra 6-3 6-3 6-3
  • Quarter Final: Bernard Tomic 6-2 3-6 6-3 7-5
  • Semi Final: Jo Wilfred Tsonga 7-6 (4) 6-2 6-7 (9) 6-3

On the other side of the net, we have Novak Djokovic. All tennis fans would know the tremendous form that the Serb has run this year, with a 43 straight match winning streak and only one loss in the entire year, it’s not surprising that Novak Djokovic is the new world number one. Like his opponent, he cruised through easily in the earlier rounds before running into Marcos Baghdatis which reduced him to smashing his racquet. The struggle seemed to persist against Australian qualifier Bernard Tomic, but won despite the constant shift of momentum during the match. His final challenge and match of his life was against Jo Wilfred Tsonga who pulled off a stunning upset against Roger Federer. He took the first after coming back a break down and took the second convincingly. But the Frenchman fought back winning 11-9 in the third set tiebreak. In a tight fourth set, Djokovic managed to seal victory, a first time appearance in a Wimbledon final and the number one ranking.

Djokovic has had a record breaking run this season which involves a second grand slam title in Australia. Can he continue this form to claim a third grand slam title against the defending champion?

Head To Head

  • Nadal Leads 16-11
  • Last Meeting: ATP World Tour Masters Rome Final, Djokovic wins 6-4 6-4
  • Last Grand Slam Meeting: Us Open 2010 Final, Nadal wins 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2
  • Last Grass Meeting: Queens Club 2008 Final, Nadal wins 7-6 (5) 7-5

Although Nadal heavily favours Djokovic in all time matches, Djokovic has won the last four meetings all in 2011 and the last two encounters in straight sets.

Betting Odds

(From Oddschecker.com)

  1. Rafael Nadal 13/19
  2. Novak Djokovic 10/7

Prediction

My final prediction will say that Novak will win in four sets. I think the confidence he’s earned from this year and  his new status will enable him to win today. Nadal may take advantage of his frustration but in the end, Novak will outplay Nadal for the title.

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Federer Vs Nadal: 2011 Roland Garros Final Preview

The greatest rivalry in mens tennis continues as Roger Federer from Switzerland and Rafael Nadal from Spain will battle in what will be their 25th meeting. They’ve versed each other in 8 grand slam finals, with the last meeting in the 2009 Australian Open Final. With the form these two have shown in the tournament, this promises to be a thriller of a match.

  • Head To Head: Nadal leads 16-8
  • Grand Slam Final Head To Head: Nadal leads 6-2
  • Last Meeting: ATP World Tour Masters 1000, Nadal wins 5-7 6-1 6-3
  • Last Clay Meeting: ATP World Tour Masters 1000, Nadal wins 5-7 6-1 6-3
  • Last Roland Garros Final Meeting: Final, Nadal wins 6-1 6-3 6-0

Rafael Nadal

As we’ve just seen above, the statistics heavily favour the king of clay. He’s beaten Roger Federer four times in the french open and three times in the final. He showed huge domination in their last meeting in the 2008 final.

  • 1st Round: John Isner 6-4 6-7 6-7 6-2 6-4
  • 2nd Round: Andujar 7-5 6-3 7-6
  • 3rd Round: Veic 6-1 6-3 6-0
  • 4th Round: Ljubicic 7-5 6-3 6-3
  • Quarterfinal: Soderling 6-4 6-1 7-6
  • Semi Final: Murray 6-4 7-5 6-4

Nadal began the tournament with lackluster performances against his first two opponents. Many doubted his ability and the possibility of winning this years title. It wasn’t until his quarter final against Robin Soderling where eyebrows were raised and doubters were silenced. He showed a dominating force against the Swede which would then continue in the semi finals. He now comes into the finals as the favourite to win the title.

This time around, there’s more at stake for the world number one. If he wins tonight, he’ll equal Bjorn Borg’s record of six Roland Garros titles. If he loses, he will lose his number one ranking to Novak Djokovic.

So will we see Nadal make history? Or will we see a brand new world number one?

Nadal will play for his 6th Roland Garros title.

 Roger Federer

The Swiss maestro is arguably the best player of all time. He’s won 16 grand slam titles but only one french open title. The year he won, he defeated Soderling in the final who knocked out Nadal in the 4th round. Roger Federer comes into this match with a lot to prove.

  • 1st Round: Lopez 3-6 4-6 6-7
  • 2nd Round: Teixeira 6-3 6-0 6-2
  • 3rd Round: Tipsarevic 6-1 6-4 6-3
  • 4th Round: Wawrinka 6-3 6-2 7-5
  • Quarter Final: Monfils 6-4 6-3 7-6
  • Semi Final: Djokovic 7-6 6-3 3-6 7-5

Roger Federer came into the tournament as the number 3 seed and under the shadow of his younger competitors. Throughout the past fortnight, he’s proved us wrong and shown that he’s still a force within the men’s game. He’s only one set this french open and has played an overall better tournament than Nadal. Many of us predicted that Roger would be knocked out by Djokovic. But in fact it was Federer who surprised and ended the 43 match winning streak. Following this win, Roger will surely come in playing the best clay court tennis of his life.

In the previous round, Federer ruined Novaks chance of history when he stopped his legendery streak. If Roger wins tonight, he will stop Nadal equaling the record number of French Open titles and also knock Nadal off the number one ranking.

Can the swiss maestro finally overcome Nadal on clay? Or will NAdal be too strong once again?

Federer hopes to beat Nadal for the first time at Roland Garros.

 Betting Odds:

  1. Rafael Nadal 2/5
  2. Roger Federer  2

My Prediction

I’m unsure what will happen. Federer is playing the best clay court tennis of his life but Nadal seems too strong. Who could forget their last meeting in 2008. Three years later, he now has his own french open title. I’ll definately be rooting for the underdog Federer. But the statistics of all the head to heads and Nadals dominating force on clay is what makes me favour Rafa winning this year’s french open.

Schiavone Vs Li Na Preview

After a fortnight of thrilling tennis, we come to the end with two remaining in the women’s draw. Both have waited for this moment their whole lives. For Li Na, it’s an attempt to be the first Asian player ever to win a grand slam. While for Schiavone, she’s here to become the first Italian winner to successfully defend the title. Who will win? In a few hours we’ll find out.

Li Na

  • 1st Round: Zahalvaova Strycova 6-3 6-7 6-3
  • 2nd Round: Soier-Espinosa 6-4 7-5
  • 3rd Round: Cirstea 6-2 6-2
  • 4th Round: Kvitova 2-6 6-1 6-3
  • Quarter Final: Azarenka 7-5 6-2
  • Semi Final: Sharapova 6-4 7-5

The Chinese tennis player has made her second consecutive grand slam final. In the beginning of the week, many doubted that she would even pass the quarter finals. She’s now well exceeded those expectations and is now fighting for the title.  She’s defeated three top ten seeds with her aggressive baseline play. She holds the expectations of over a billion people who are desperate to see her succeed. Li Na lost her previous grand slam final in Australia against Kim Clijsters in three sets.

Has she learned from her mistakes to give her the best opportunity in winning the final? Or will the expectation be too much?

Can Li Na make history?

 Francesca Schiavone

  • 1st Round: Oudin 6-2 6-0
  • 2nd Round: Dolonts 6-1 6-2
  • 3rd Round: Peng 6-3 1-2
  • 4th Round: Jankovic 3-6 6-2 4-6
  • Quarter Final: Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 5-7 5-7
  • Semi Final: Bartoli 3-6 3-6

In 2010, Schiavone surprised many when she won the french open and her first grand slam at 29 years old. One year later, she finds herself in the same position once again, except this time, one year older and a more experienced and confident player. The Italian is known for her passionate and fiery play which is a thrill to watch. She’s came back from the dark in her quarter final match at 6-1 4-1 down against Pavlyuchenkova. Her stunning one-handed backhand gives glimpses of Justine Henin while her all-court game and big personality intimidates the women she faces.

Can Schiavone relive the success she achieved last year? Or will her fiery personality and the increased expectation be her down fall.

Can Schiavone repeat victory?

Betting Odds:

  1.  Li Na 4/5
  2. Schiavone 1

My prediction sees a possible three set match from happening. I’ll be rooting for Li Na purely because i’m asian. But Schiavone last year went for it despite being her first grand slam and coming in as an underdog. So as much as I would love an Asian victory from Li Na, I see Schiavone successfully defending her title at Roland Garros.

Djokovic Streak Ends at 41

The unstoppable force of Novak Djokovic has swept the world of tennis this season. However, his legendary run has finally come to an end. In the he loses after 41 consecutive victories , just one match short to equal the record of Mcenroe’s 42-0 streak in the 1984 season.

It all began in the Hopman Cup where Novak Djokovic didn’t lose a single match. He continued the form into the Australian Open where he beat Roger Federer and Andy Murray in the final on the way to victory. What we didn’t know was that these victories were only the beginning of his phenomenal run.

Djokovic wins the Australian Open.

He then followed this victory by winning in Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Rome. These victories were also filled with difficult matches which the Serb eventually overcame. Djokovic defeated Nadal in both Indian Wells and Madrid after coming back one set down in both. He then continued this Rafa assault by defeating him again in the final of Rome. But it was Andy Murray who proved to be his greatest challenge. In their three hour encounter in Rome, Djokovic was two points from defeat until a double fault allowed him to come back and win the match. Throughout his streak, he lost ten sets in his matches against Nadal (two), Murray, Federer, Bellucci, Ferrer, Bedych, Lopez and Del Porto.

Coming into the french open, Djokovic emerged as a huge favourite to take it all while some predicted that his streak would end during the fortnight. Novak sailed past his first two matches to meet 2009 US Open Champion Juan Martin Del Potro in the third round. The Serb lost a set but came back the next day to win the next two. On what was supposed to be the match which he would most likely equal the record, his Italian opponent Fabio Fognini withdrew before their quarter final match which gave Novak a walkover into the semis.

Equaling the record suddenly got tougher as his next opponent was 3rd seed Roger Federer. Federer seemed in control as he won the first two sets. The former world number one has never lost a grand slam match from two sets up so Djokovic now faced mission impossible. The Serb began the third set with an early break to lead 3-0. He took advantage of his opportunity and took the set 6-3.

Confident Federer.

Djokovic looks above for help.

The fourth set began with both men holding their serves. In the 9th game at 4-4, Djokovic won a hard earned break to lead 5-4. But Federer denied a 5th set from happening and broke back in the following game. Another match tiebreak occured where dusk approached, the energy of the crowd turned electric and the future of the streak would be determined within the next several points.

The final moments were nail biting tennis. Federer hit his 17th ace followed by a winner to lead 6-3 in the tiebreak. Djokovic then survived a lucky net cord and served an ace to bring the score at 6-5. Hearts raced between the two players, the crowd and all the viewers watching at home. Roger tossed his final ball in the air and slammed an ace right down the middle to bring the crowd at it’s feet.

Federer into the finals.

 

The two champions embrace.

Roger Federer now faces 5 time French Open winner Rafael Nadal in the final in what we hope lives up to all their amazing matches. For Djokovic however, it’s a bitter loss. One win short of history and also one win short of the desired number one ranking. If Federer does defeat Rafa, then Novak is the new number one. In the next few weeks, it’ll be interesting how he bounces back after a tough loss. Though i’m sure that Novak will fight back in his following matches.