Could it have been any other way?
On Friday, Roger Federer and Andy Murray masterfully played their way into the Men’s Wimbledon final, setting up a dream matchup with all kinds of history on the line. I argued that heading into the French Open final last month, there was perhaps no great match with historical implications than the one featured by Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Nadal had a chance to eclipse Bjorn Borg’s all time Rolland Garros record for wins, while Djokovic would be in possession of all 4-grand slams, a feat not accomplished since 1969.
Sunday’s Wimbledon final, in the opinion of this writer, is much, much bigger.
First, the obvious. Andy Murray has a chance to erase perhaps the longest, most polarizing sports drought currently going. He ended one streak, becoming the first British man since 1968 to make the finals on home soil since Henry “Bunny” Austin did so 74 years ago. Murray’s now hoping to become the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry 76 years ago. No pressure.
For Federer, it’s not just a chance to increase his lead on the all-time Majors list, by winning his 17th. Pete Sampras owns the record for most wins at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, with 7 all time Wimbledon titles. Federer has 6, and will look to tie him in that regard. Roger all becomes the world number 1 with a win, and that in itself has historical significance. If he were to get to number 1, it would be his 286th week doing so, again tying him with the great Pete Sampras for the most all time. Pete sure has a lot to lose, but for Federer, who said Sampras was his inspiration even during his darkest days, everything is to gain.
Further Paul Annacone and Ivan Lendl, the coaches for Federer and Murray respectively are vying for their first Major under their player. Annacone who began coaching Federer 2 years ago has yet to experience the triumph of a big win, while Lendl, who came aboard team Murray this year has set his player up for moments like this. Nothing more obvious in that statement than Lendl barely moving, let a lone reacting, to Murray’s match point, cross court winner again Tsonga. He’s there to guide Murray to 7 wins, not 6. No pressure.
The match will play out very much like a Davis Cup tie. Hard to imagine Federer being the underdog to the crowd, but with Murray in his first finals at Wimbledon, with a chance to erase history while also capturing his first Grand Slam will not be lost amongst the educated Wimbledon crowds. They’ll hang behind Murray through every winner, every error, every disgruntled look to the sky.
Prediction: Roger Federer over Andy Murray in 4 sets