Sunday, July 15, 2018

2018 WIMBLEDON: Men's Final Preview (and Semifinals Review)

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [12] vs Kevin Anderson (RSA) [8]
Here are my predictions for the women's final at the Wimbledon Championships for 2018. This year I correctly predicted 2 of 4 men's quarterfinals, correctly predicted 4 of 4 women's quarterfinals, 1 of 2 men's semifinals and 2 of 2 women's semifinals. Last year I incorrectly predicted Venus Williams would defeat Garbine Muguruza. 


Kevin Anderson (RSA) [8] d. John Isner (USA) [9] 7-6(6) 6-7(5) 6-7(9) 6-4 26-24At 6 hours 36 minutes, this was the longest match ever played on Wimbledon's Centre Court and the second longest grand slam match of all time, exceeded only by the ridiculous 11-hour, 3-day ordeal Isner survived against Nicolas Mahut back in 2010 (winning 70-68 in the 5th set). After outlasting 8-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer 13-11 in the fifth set Anderson maintained his composure for the second round in a row and this time won 26-24! This was quite an amazing mental performance because most players who have beaten Federer at Wimbledon have gone on to lose their next match. (In fact, this is one reason why I picked Isner to win.) One must spare a thought for John Isner who was trying to reach his first major final, and now in addition to the infamous 70-68 win he will be known for the 26-24 loss. Maybe he will be responsible for the implementation of the Isner rule, which leads to some kind of terminating mechanism for decisive sets in the majors, especially Wimbledon. I would endorse some kind of tiebreak (I would suggest it should be a 10-point match tiebreak) that would occur qt either 6-all or 9-all or even 12-all. But there must be a rule change to prevent 3 hour final sets.

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [12] d. Rafael Nadal (ESP) [2] 6-4 3-6 7-6(9) 3-6 10-8. This was a very high quality match that lasted 5 hours 15 minutes played over 2 days. Since it was the second match one after the Isner-Anderson marathon there was no way that it could be completed on men's semifinal Friday. The competitors showed why the 52-match Nadal-Djokovic rivalry is even more compelling than the Federer-Nadal and Federer-Djokovic rivalries. Djokovic extends his lead to 27-25 against Nadal, one of the very few players on tour who have a head-to-head lead against Nadal after more than 4 meetings. One of the key moments of this match was the 3rd set tiebreaker. Winning the 3rd set is always important in  a 5-set match but in this match the player who won the 3rd set would know they would be able to go to sleep with a lead until the match resumed the next day. Djokovic had to save 3 set points in that tiebreaker before he was able to close it out 11-9. The fifth set was an amazing, tension-filled, high-quality affair. Djokovic had to save five breakpoints during the course of the deciding set. With the advantage of serving first, those breakpoints were not match points. It was not until the 16th game that Nadal finally was forced to save a match/break point which he did with an astonishingly gutsy drop shot winner. He had previously escaped two  or three 0-30 deficits but then in the 18th game of the 5th set he was unable to do it again and slipped (literally) to go down 0-40 and lose his serve and the match. 


Djokovic can exult that it appears as if he has returned to his old form, as evinced by his ability to defeat Nadal in a tough 5-set match. His reward is that he has an excellent opportunity to continue to add to his haul of major titles. From 2011-2016 Djokovic won 11 of 22 majors but he had not even reached a final since. If he beats Anderson in the championship match (where he is the prohibitive favorite after the South African survived two consecutive ultra-long matches in the last 4 days) Djokovic will get to 13 major titles, which is only 4 behind Nadal and 7 behind Federer. There's still a possibility that if he returns to the level which earned him 4 the Nole slam in June 2016 he could exceed Federer's major total before his retirement. Most people are not giving Anderson any chance to win but I am not one of them. I think it will be closer than people think, and I would not be surprised if Anderson wins a single set, probably because I think there will be a tiebreaker or two. Anderson will be surprised by the number of his serves that are returned into play, and its hard to imagine his movement will be even 50% of its usual level as a result of the extended time he has spent on court this fortnight, which should be dispositive.

MadProfessah's pick: Djokovic.

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