Sunday 16 July 2017

Wimbledon 2017 : The grand finale

I am a huge fan of Roger Federer and trust me, even before the draw had come out, I had a feeling that Marin Cilic is the one who will be the most difficult to beat for him. When the draw was finally out, I looked at it and had a sigh of relief, seeing that Cilic is not in Roger's half, even though Dimitrov, Raonic and Djokovic were potential opponents for him. Cilic though, turned out to be the last man standing in Federer's way in his quest to capture his 8th Wimbledon trophy. 

As a tennis fan though, I am happy that two of the most in form players on grass managed to overcome all the hurdles and make it to the finals. But as a person trying to predict the outcome of this one, this is as tough as it gets.

LAST MEETING : 6-7(4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(9), 6-3 (WIMBLEDON 2016, QF)

Federer might have a superior head to head against the big Croat, but the last two encounters are the most significant ones by far. Cilic got his first victory over the Swiss in the semi finals of the US Open in straight sets, where he went on to win the title too. More recently, they faced in the quarter finals of Wimbledon last year, where Federer narrowly won after being down 2-sets to love and then match points down in the 4th set. So saying that this title is Federer's to lose, is not a spot on analysis in my opinion.

Federer version 2017, is though a different beast to lock horns with. His tennis has been nearly flawless in all departments, including the once relatively rather weaker, backhand. In terms of recent form, both of them have been immaculate. Cilic has tasted just one loss in the grass court season, that too in a close encounter with Feliciano Lopez in the finals of Queen's. Federer on the other hand has fared even better; 11 wins in a row, and yet to drop a set, after his surprise loss to Tommy Haas in Stuttgart. 

In Wimbledon, both of them have served out of their skins. While Cilic has won 84% of his first serves, Federer is close behind at 83%. Federer though, has defended his second serves much better. He has won 66% of his second serve points, while Cilic is under 59% in that department. 

What makes recent form a little more difficult to read is that Cilic hasn't had to face a top 15 opponent so far (Gilles Muller, his highest ranked opponent was seeded 16th). So how will his game differ when facing arguably the best player this season on grass, remains to be seen. 

What I feel is that Cilic is in a great form, as good as his form was when he went on to lift his maiden US Open title in 2014. But Federer has the tools, especially looking at his form this year, to disrupt Cilic's game as and when he wishes. He has looked the better player so far, and unless nerves gives it away for him, or he loses rhythm completely, I see no reason why Federer will lose this one. I predict a clean first set, with one break of serve to Federer sealing the deal. 2 close sets after that, which both take apiece. And then Cilic'c game dipping to give Federer an easy 4th set, the match and his 8th Wimbledon title.

PREDICTION : ROGER FEDERER 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-2

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