Novak Djokovic (RS) bt. Richard Gasquet (F) 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-4
Roger Federer (CH) bt. Andy Murray (GB) 7-5, 7-5, 6-4
The 2015 Wimbledon Men’s Singles final will be between Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Roger Federer of Switzerland. Just as it was last year, in fact. The other 126 players in the draw must be wondering why they even bothered to turn up at all. I suppose two weeks in one of the world’s great capital cities during a warm July could be worse, but then there was also a Tube strike which was a bit of a pisser. I suppose the majority of the players on the tennis tour can afford to get taxis, but it’s still inconvenient.
Wait, what was I talking about? Men’s tennis, that’s the one. First on Centre Court yesterday afternoon for men’s semi final day was Novak Djokovic, heavily fancied to make short work of Richard Gasquet, not least due to the Frenchman’s epic five set quarter final on Wednesday evening. Make short work of him he did, but not before Gasquet had raised any number of eyebrows by immediately breaking back once his opponent had broken him early in the first set. However, the first set tie-break was one-way traffic and in truth, Gasquet never really figured again.
The main event was as memorable a match as had been anticipated, but not for the reasons people had thought it might be. Rather than a titanic summit duel, Roger Federer versus Andy Murray 2015 will be recalled instead for a masterpiece of an individual performance from Federer. He was nothing short of magnificent.
The irony of the Federer legacy to tennis is that it was he who ended the paradigm of the big serve being enough to reach the top of professional tennis. Thanks to Roger, any one-dimensional player was doomed to always be second best and thus we have been spoilt with an era of wonderfully rounded players like Djokovic, Nadal and Murray; rather than Roddick, Philippoussis and Ivo Karlovic. However, in spite this piece of aesthete-friendly dragon slaying, Roger Federer is perhaps now the owner of the most unbeatable serve in the men’s game. Admittedly, it lacks the booming power, speed and bounce of some of the fastest on the circuit. It has and will never be as weapons grade, standing in the outside lane of the motorway buttock clenching as Goran Ivanisevic’s or Andy Roddick’s used to be. But for precision, consistency and reliability it is untouched. Yesterday against Murray, Federer faced only a single break point, in the second game of the first set.
That’s the rub for The Great British Hope. A look in Murray’s eyes during the post-match press conference told all: he knew he was battling against something that could not have been defeated. Murray played well: well enough, I’d venture, to have beaten almost any other player in the world. But Federer never gave him a sniff, not the merest hope of a mere hope. It was a crushing, insuperable display of match tennis from the sport’s greatest ever player.
Have no doubt about it, if Federer replicates that form in tomorrow’s final – if he even comes close to doing so – he will win an unprecedented eighth Wimbledon (and eighteenth Grand Slam) title. It’s not that Novak Djokovic isn’t good enough to defeat him: after all, in last year’s final he did just that in an engrossing five set final. It is, rather, that he won’t even be given the chance to.