Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic each won their quarterfinal matches at the All England Club on Wednesday. As a result, they will meet one another for the right to play in the Wimbledon 2012 final on Friday.
Their semifinal match will mark their 27th head-to-head meeting on tour or in Grand Slams.
However, this match-up will be a historic encounter. Not only will the match be their first meeting at Wimbledon, but it will also be their first grass-court meeting in any event. That new surface makes analysis of the upcoming match a little bit difficult ,although the odds makers have made Djokovic the favorite (ie. 4/9, -225 Ladbrokes).
Federer is into the semifinal having struggled just a little bit over the last week and a half. The Swiss Maestro almost fell to Frenchman Julien Benneteau in the third round. Benneteau had Federer down two sets to love and was within two points of closing the match out. However Federer is a slippery player and Benneteau, like so many others, was not able to close out the win against the 16 time Grand Slam champion.
In more recent matches, Federer has not looked off form with just one lost set to Xavier Malisse and Mikhail Youzhny combined. It is fair to say that Federer has not faced the toughest competition at Wimbledon 2012 so far, but that will change on Friday.
Djokovic is the defending champion at this year's All England Club. He enters the semifinals having only dropped one set the entire tournament so far. Additionally, in all other sets played, Djokovic has not faced a tiebreaker. His matches have been relatively short, and there is no way the World No. 1 should be facing any kind of fatigue issues.
With Federer, fatigue might not be the problem. However there have been some back problems during Wimbledon 2012 so far. Those problems seemed to dissipate against Youzhny, a player who has not ever enjoyed success against the current World No. 3.
But Djokovic has enjoyed plenty of success against Federer recently. Overall, the Serb is just 12-14 against the Swiss Maestro, but Djokovic has won six of their last seven head-to-head meetings. Three of those six wins have come at this exact stage of other Grand Slam tournaments.
When careers are compared, Federer is the more proven player on the grass court. He has six titles at the All England Club compared to Djokovic's one. But Djokovic, with plenty of competitive years ahead of him still, is in his prime whereas Federer will be 31-years old in roughly one month's time.
There is a world of difference between the ages of 25 (Djokovic's age) and 31 when it comes to winning late round Grand Slam matches.
The scouting report on Federer is clear at this stage in his career. He can still beat the peripheral talent on the ATP Tour and even much younger players. He's also more than capable of winning events outright that are structured as best-of-three set matches.
However, against younger players deep in tournaments that feature best-of-five set matches, Federer has typically faltered since the 2010 Australian Open.
Djokovic has ended so many of Federer's runs in recent years that it's hard to pick the World No. 3 to win this match, despite the better grass-court resume.
As a side note, this match has serious implications for the World No. 1 ranking. If Djokovic wins the semifinal, he will stay No. 1 following Wimbledon. If Federer wins the semifinal he will have a chance to retake the World No. 1 ranking immediately following Wimbledon but he would need to win the final as well.
It's not entirely correct to say that the No. 1 ranking is at stake in this match as there is a scenario where the winner (ie. Federer) does not assume the top spot (ie. if Federer loses the final). However given that Federer would likely be the favorite in the final against either Andy Murray or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga the Djokovic/Federer semifinal is certainly a match that possesses enormous ramifications for top spot.