Wimbledon 2018 Men’s Final Preview Kevin Anderson Vs Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic (12) and Kevin Anderson (8) have given everything they could possibly give to put themselves in a position to contest this year’s Wimbledon final, but both men will need to give, as daunting as that must seem, even more on Sunday if they want to win the title. The Tennis Review takes a look at the factors each man has going in his favor and predicts the winner.
In Novak Djokovic’s favor
This is Djokovic, three time Wimbledon Champion.
Novak knows exactly what it feels like to win a Wimbledon trophy. He won the title in 2011, 2014, and 2015, and he beat Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, twice, to do it.
He has a nice head to head lead over Anderson.
Though Djokovic struggles more with big serving than he does with other strengths, he has a 5-1 head to head lead over Anderson.
Their closest match was at Wimbledon in 2015, a match suspended because of fading light, which took 2 days to complete and in which Djokovic trailed 0-2 in sets and came back to win.
Head to heads mean little in matches like Grand Slam finals however, and Anderson has much improved the past couple of seasons. Nevertheless, the head to head does suggest that Djokovic may have a little too much game for Anderson.
Djokovic is playing his best tennis since Summer 2016.
Djokovic is coming into the final off a win over world No.1 Rafa Nadal in the semis, his best win for some time.
Nadal is not the grass courter he once was- this year’s semi was his first trip there since 2011-but he was playing some great tennis, especially around the net, and Djokovic’s 10-8 fifth set victory over him means his mental toughness, his focus and belief, is where it needs to be going into his 22nd slam final.
Anderson is coming into the final on the back of playing the second longest match in Grand Slam history (6 hours 36 minutes)
Anderson did not have to do too much running, nowhere near as much as Djokovic did in his semi-final, the 11th longest of all time (5 hours 15 minutes), but the mental toughness he had to execute, serving second in the deciding set in both that semi-final and his 13-11 fifth setter quarter-final versus Roger Federer must have left him pretty spent.
In Kevin Anderson’s favor
He has been to a slam final before.
Anderson reached the US Open ’17 final where he lost to Rafa Nadal.
His run to that final, through the bottom half of the draw ripped to shreds by 2nd seed Andy Murray’s last minute withdrawal, was less stellar than his run to this Wimbledon final (Aragone, Gulbis, Coric, Lorenzi, Querrey, Busta compared to Gombos-Seppi-Kohlschreiber-Monfils-Federer-Isner) and he matches up better to his final opponent Djokovic than he did to his US Open conqueror Nadal who defeated a nervous and flat Anderson in straights.
So, going into his 2nd slam final, Anderson should be feeling confident, inspired and more able to handle slam final nerves, and, as a result, give a performance worthy of his skills and hard work, which, when you have his serve and work ethic, should be quite something.
His serve .
Anderson’s serve has never been tested to this extent as it has this Wimbledon and you would have to give him an A star for his performance.
His serve has held up to about as much pressure as anyone could put it under and if he finds himself in a fifth set in the final and serving second he should be anything but fazed, and if he’s serving first, well no one is going to say he does not deserve a little luck.
Anderson will of course need his serve to negate the returning strengths of Djokovic who has a good habit of breaking back immediately after being broken, but Anderson’s serve is going to be harder to break than anyone else Djokovic has faced in the draw and he may find good habits die easy on the Wimbledon lawns.
His opponent has just come off his biggest win in nearly two years.
Djokovic used to play, and win, the kind of matches he played in his semi every other slam, but it’s been since 2016’s US Open since he made a slam final and until the Nadal win he had not won a five set slam match versus a big rival since beating Murray in the French Open final.
Djokovic says he had to overcome all sorts of doubts to defeat Nadal and that he would have liked a day to recover so there is a chance that kind of mental toil might lead to a little letdown in the final which could open a door for Anderson early on, but a door the 8th seed will need to shut pretty quickly.
Prediction: Djokovic will be contesting his 22nd slam final, Anderson his 2nd. Djokovic is 12-9 in finals and it is very much up in the air which slam final Djokovic we are going to get in the final. Still, Anderson is even more of an unknown quantity and if the 2017 US Open final version turns up, Djokovic should win in straights.
This final will be played on a new day though and that is what tennis matches come down to- how the players compete on the day.
Going on form coming into the final, both men are pretty even. Going on the match up, both men have a shot to negate their opponent’s strength. Going on how much either have left to give, both are pretty spent from their semis and will need to hope that the final itself, the atmosphere, the occasion, will give them that extra boost of adrenaline needed.
So, who has the edge? That has to go to Djokovic. Running on empty versus a tough opponent in a high pressure match is what he knows and with a 13th slam a match away against an opponent he has beaten before in a tough match at SW19 that knowledge should be what gives him the power to win the final and biggest point.
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