By U.B. Acharya
While in ICC Cricket World Cup finals, we will see a new world champion either England or New Zealand, what else is new in the world of tennis? It is the same OLD dogs (sorry, pun unintended, actually two great rivals and champions), top seed Novak Djokovic and second seed Roger Federer fighting for the coveted silverware. Both the matches will be played on Sunday, July the 14th afternoon in London and for sports fans it would be a tough call. I for once, would be following tennis live on TV and cricket on my mobile during service change over in tennis. It would have been the other way around had India been playing in Cricket World Cup finals.
Now, let us go back to the history of tennis. Federer is undoubtedly the GOAT (Greatest of All Times) by virtue of his number of Major titles and number of weeks as ATP’s top ranked player plus over 100 ATP titles and incredible win-loss percentage. He has won more than 1,200 matches and only three Australian greats namely Ken Rosewall, Roy Emerson and Rod Laver have won more matches than him mainly because these players have played for 35+ years of tournament tennis. Meanwhile, this is Federer’s 23rd year of professional tennis but in these days of power hitting, playing top class tennis just three weeks short of 38 years is very creditable. As far as Djokovic is concerned, I would say ‘Woh bhi kuch kum nahi hai.’ He is the current ATP Number One raked player for the past seven months, holds an individual Slam (not a Grand Slam but won all the four Major titles continuously), has won seven Australian Singles titles (a record). Also, he is the winner of three of the last four Major tournaments. Against Federer, he holds a 25-22 head to head lead. More importantly, Djokovic has won their past four encounters.
Let me now dig deeper into some quantitative analysis of all past and present champions. Federer stands head and shoulder above the rest with some 115 points. Laver comes second with a decent 105 points with Djokovic following with 98 points. Rafael Nadal is fourth with 89 points. The rest of them like Pete Sampras, Emerson, Rosewall and Ivan Lendl have all less than 70 points. While Djokovic and Nadal definitely have an opportunity to overtake Laver, their matching Federer’s record depends on Federer’s performance and longevity.
Regarding Sundays finals, while there is a very strong crowd support for Federer, one can never rule out Djokovic’s tenacity. Both have a lot at stake. Federer is going for his 21st Major (erroneously referred to as Grand Slam) title and truly historic ninth Wimbledon title. Djokovic is gunning for his 16th title to come closer to Nadal’s 18 titles. The general saying is “May the better player win” but in this case with both in their top forms, the luckier player will win. We shall know by Sunday 10 pm.