Federer, Djokovic set for first grass clash
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have met 26 times, but today’s potentially epic Wimbledon semi-final will be a first clash on grass in their rollercoaster, six-year rivalry.
Defending champion Djokovic has won the pair’s last three meetings, in straight sets on clay this year in Rome and in the semi-finals of the French Open.
Those wins followed a morale-sapping semi-final loss for Federer at the US Open where the Serb, for the second successive year, saved match points before driving another dagger into the great Swiss.
Both men go into today’s clash having racked up impressive numbers. Djokovic, the US Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon champion, is in a ninth successive Grand Slam semi-final and has played in four of the last finals at the majors.
Federer is in a record 32nd semi-final of a Grand Slam.
On paper, the grass of Centre Court should favour Federer, the six-time champion desperate to equal the record seven set by Pete Sampras.
But the 16-time Grand Slam title winner is playing down the significance of the surface.
“Things are not that drastic of a change anymore from clay, hard court, indoor, to grass. But it is interesting that this is our first grass court match,” said Federer.
“I’m just happy that I’m around further than I’ve been the last couple of years. So it’s been a good tournament for me. It gives me confidence going into a big match against Novak.”
Djokovic, who has dropped just one set en route to the last four, said he will be wary of the dangers posed by Federer on the Wimbledon grass where the Swiss star’s record now stands at 64 wins against just seven losses in his 14 visits.
“Maybe he uses the grass court better because of his slice. He has a really smart game for this surface,” said the Serb.
“But I have improved playing on grass in the last couple of years. I won the title here last year, got to another semi-final this year, so I’m feeling good about this surface, about myself on the court. I really have nothing to lose.”
Today’s other semi-final sees fourth seed Andy Murray, bidding to become Britain’s first finalist since Bunny Austin in 1938, and first winner since Fred Perry in 1936, taking on French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.