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Neil McLeman: Can Federer’s lightning strike twice?

11 Jul | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Neil McLeman: Can Federer’s lightning strike twice?

The head says Djokovic. The heart says Federer

EVEN by the standards of Roger Federer’s career, his semi-final destruction of Andy Murray was extraordinary.

Now the world No 2 faces the challenge of backing up his performance against the best player in the world in a repeat of last year’s final.

And just like Federer now dominates the British No 1, I reckon the Serb will complete a hat-trick of wins over the Swiss maestro this year to retain his title.

Federer, who turns 34 in August, can still beat any player in the world on grass on any day. But his inability to win big matches back-to-back is why he has not won another Grand Slam since his seventh Wimbledon triumph in 2012.

With his fabulous serve, he needs his lightning to strike twice.

One coach told me last night: “To play like that once is unbelievable. To do it again 48 hours later would be miraculous. But if anyone can, it is Roger.”

The Scot’s camp were not that downbeat after losing in a Grand Slam semi-final. They realise there was nothing their man could do. Now Djokovic will face the same challenge.

The key again will be the Federer serve – and Djokovic’s ability to return it with interest. Murray and Djokovic are regarded as the two best returners in the game but the Scot won only 20 points on the Federer serve in the semi.

But the Serb’s elasticity means he has the incomparable ability to turn defence into attack, especially on his backhand side.

The two have met 39 times with Federer leading 20-19. Like Federer and Murray, they have only met twice on grass at Wimbledon with honours even. It is the same in Grand Slams with six wins each. But the Serb leads 9-5 in finals, including their last two meetings in Indian Wells and Dubai.

There is no doubt who will be the crowd’s favourite. Federer enjoys phenomenal support throughout the world but especially at Wimbledon as he bids to become the oldest winner at SW19 in the Open era. (Arthur Ashe at 31 years, 360 days is the oldest in 1975).

Djokovic has never enjoyed the popularity of the Swiss or Rafa Nadal, and his coach Boris Becker admitting he gives illegal advice from the player’s box and the Serb shouting at a ball girl this week will not endear him further.

But he is a winning machine.

He beat Murray in the Australian Open final and won the first set in the French Open final before he was battered into submission by Stan Wawrinka. Federer will have to launch a similar assault as his fellow Swiss.

Djokovic is looking to become the first man to retain the Wimbledon title since Federer in 2007. And I think he will weather the early Federer bombardment and win in four.

Murray reckons it will come down to how the Swiss serves. “It should be a fantastic match,” said the 2013 champion. “You never know how both are going to play on the day. But I think Novak played some good stuff today (against Richard Gasquet).  And, yeah, if Roger serves well, serves like he did today, he’ll give himself a great opportunity to win that match.”

Match odds

4/5 – Djokovic

Evs – Federer

All Wimbledon Final betting

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