I have always been a huge fan of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. However, I have always supported Djokovic just a tiny bit more. And I am hoping that the two repeat last year's final. Ironic if they end up meeting on a Monday again, just like last year.
In any case, the rivalry that gets viewers amped up this year is the Roger Federer vs. Novak Djokovic rivalry. No question in my mind, the French Open Semis was the biggest match of this year and definitely lived up to its billing. Interestingly, I thought, it was the first time that Djokovic was a clear pre-match favorite. That sort of amped up Federer, and you could see from his reaction after winning how fired up he was. That was his biggest win of the year and it brought that incredible streak of Novak's to an end.
I still firmly believe that Federer is the biggest obstacle to Djokovic's chances, far more than either Nadal or Andy Murray. Djokovic has certainly tamed Nadal and doesn't fear him, and he certainly doesn't fear Murray although theirs is still a battle of equals for the most part. It is Federer that clearly has Djokovic's full attention, and he knows that Federer has the arsenal to beat him.
The key for me again, is the Federer serve. If Federer can keep the first serve percentage high and also the mph on the first ball, it definitely makes life easier for Roger against the world's greatest returner, and puts the pressure on Novak during his service games. For all his success this year, I think Novak still has those moments where he is mentally vulnerable. And the player who can crack him more than anybody in that department is Federer.
I also feel that Federer wants to win more against Novak than anyone else. It's been a strange luke-warm relationship over the years, and it is sufficient to say that Federer now realizes that he is playing against someone who is an incredible athlete and who is in the pomp of his career. No doubt that it makes his juices flow more than ever. He probably also realizes, as does everyone else including Nadal and Murray, that really at this point if Novak plays at his absolute best, there is no way for anyone to beat him. He is just in that zone and just technically superior in every department of the game to anybody.
This is a pick-up match. As much as I love Djokovic, I would have to give this one 51-49 to Federer. He just wants it more.
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