If you look at the Women’s side of the draw in the 2015 U.S. Open, massive upsets have taken centre stage but on the Men’s side, it’s the top two seeds in the bracket who have battled to the final to create a unique climax for the tournament. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will play No. 2 Roger Federer today’s in the final. These two extraordinary players have a long and embattled rivalry that has played out almost dead-even. In 41 career matches, Federer has won 21 times and Djokovic 20. So either one will pull head today, or the other will even the score. It basically can’t get more even or exciting than that.
Federer spoke with media today about his rivalry with Djokovic, which was posted on the U.S. Open’s official Twitter account: on the rivalry he said, “It’s just a straight shootout, that’s the cool thing about our rivalry. It’s very athletic.”
Federer and Djokovic are currently two of the fittest and smoothest athletes in the sport. Many times, their matches can be eqauted with battles or wars of attrition. If you look back to their history, 15 of their matches went to the the maximum amount of sets. That’s sounding more like a siege than a battle.
In today’s final, it shall become the sixth time they will have played this year, and in that parlay Djokovic has a one-win advantage. Federer did win the most recent match-up between them last month, at the Western and Southern Open final in Cincinnati. He decidedly beat Djokovic in striking straight sets (7-6, 6-3) to set himself up perfectly for the U.S. Open and the momentum he needs to take this title too.
Federer, so far, has not dropped a set en route to the final. He was only pushed to a tiebreaker in one of his matches in New York. He has been looking on his game, in form and dominant as ever before, and this afternoon, just might be the cherry on his cake.
That’s not to say that Djokovic hasn’t looked very good either. But simply put he has not played quite as impressively as Federer has. The top seed blew through No. 9 Marin Cilic in the semifinals, but he totally owns the game against the 26-year-old Croatian (14-0 lifetime), so it was a sure bet that Djokovic would make it to the final once Cilic was set up as his opponent.
Despite Federer’s confidence, Djokovic has many reasons to be confident as well. He beat Federer three of the last four times they’ve faced up, and he hasn’t lost a Grand Slam match against the Swiss legend since the 2012 Wimbledon semifinals. That’s a long and impressive streak. He will know how to play hard against the Swiss when it truly counts.
Many will want to pick Djokovic to win based on his higher seed and recent success against Federer, but there is a good chance that the 34-year-old Swiss not only looks invigorated, but his play is still hungry and resourceful. In this tournament so far he has shown more aggressiveness at the net when he sees an opening. It was the perfect strategy, expecially against his countryman Stan Wawrinka in the semis yesterday. The U.S. Open later reported after the match that he had incredibly high efficiency at the net: Federer won 79% of his net points vs Wawrinka. The numbers don’t lie.
The second-seeded Federer, who is 34 is in remarkably form. Not dropping a set at Flushing Meadows and never stopping to put pressure on fifth-seeded French Open winner Wawrinka, led to a demolition which lasted a mere 92-minutes.
He’ll need a mixture of grace and fluidity, and some aggressive net play to keep Djokovic honest and on his toes. If he can do that, Federer might just win his sixth U.S. Open and first Grand Slam title in three years. Federer, is an all-time grand slam singles champion holding 17 titles, and will want to add to his collection of record slams haul. It will be the first time since his 2012 Wimbledon triumph. His focus is showing through. To media pre-match he said, “It’s been a great tournament so far, I’ve tried very hard the last six years to get back in another final.”
And we think he won’t leave empty handed.