Federer, Murray to meet in a historic final

The Championships, Wimbledon. The oldest tennis tournament in the world. The site where history has been made for over a century. Come this Sunday, another momentous chapter will be chronicled at the All England Club.

It’s a match that will be historic in its own right. On one end is Roger Federer, appearing now in his record eighth Wimbledon final and record 24th major final all together. He was an unstoppable force and at the top of his game at the same hallowed grounds where he’s won six times on Friday, defeating and quite possibly dethroning world number one Novak Djokovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. A win Sunday will elevate Federer to the top of the tennis rankings and to the top of the list of Wimbledon champions by equaling Pete Sampras’s record seven Wimbledon crowns.

“I have one match to go,” Federer said. “I’m aware of that.”

On the other end is Great Britain’s very own Andy Murray, appearing in his very first Wimbledon final and becoming the first Brit to do such in 74 years. Murray powered past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga by a similar margin, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. The three year drought Federer has endured at Wimbledon – by his own lofty expectations – pales in comparison to the 76 years of misery Britain has waited to see their native player lift high the Wimbledon crown.

“It will be one of the biggest matches of my life,” Murray said after the match. “I’m very excited.”

Scratch that. It will be the biggest match of his life to date. It will be the biggest match for all the British Isles since Fred Perry won it all in 1936.

“I’ll be watching the final on Sunday and like the rest of the country, will be getting right behind Andy Murray,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said. “I wish him the best of luck.”

The hopes of a nation rest on the shoulders of Murray. But there will also be a multitude rooting for their adopted Swiss champion. It’s a match that pits Britain’s native son in Murray against their favorite son in Federer.

After four consecutive major finals featuring the world’s No. 1 in Djokovic and No.2 in Rafael Nadal, it’s fitting that No. 3 Federer and No. 4 Murray finally play for it all on the big stage of a Grand Slam final.

For Federer, the road back to a final must be sweet. After his extraordinary reign in which he had a stranglehold over men’s tennis, he had failed to reach it to the seventh round of a major in his last nine appearances. His victory over Djokovic changed that and his game oozed with class, his rocket forehand at its blistering best and his serve almost impenetrable. Dominant to the fact that he wound up winning 72 percent of his second serve points.

“No question about it,” Djokovic said. “He was the better player. In the important moments, he was aggressive, hitting from both sides.”

His game was crisp throughout the match as he hit an incredible 31 winners to go along with just 10 unforced errors. His movement was impeccable, frustrating the world’s best returner in Djokovic with his serve and laying body serve after body serve to his opponent on his second serve opportunities. Federer broke the Serb’s serve in the final game of the pivotal third set and then steamrolled through the fourth set to make it a perfect 8-0 in Wimbledon semifinals.

“I’m aware that the tournament’s not over yet,” Federer said. “I didn’t break down crying and fall to my knees and think, ‘The tournament is over, and I achieved everything I wanted.’”

For Murray, the long and difficult road to the final stage of the Grand Slam said it all. His cracking forehand on match point off Tsonga’s serve to seal the deal spoke loud volumes to a man who was overcoming 74 years worth of agony and futility of a nation. His emotion at the end of the match said it all, as he raised his arms to the sky and fought back tears.

“Big relief,” Murray said. “I just got to try to keep it together for the final.”

He will need to hold it together, unlike his two previous Grand Slam final meetings against Federer in which he failed to win a set. He will need to keep his calm as he goes against Federer for the first time on grass.

There is a lot at stake in this final. The pressure will be ratcheted up a notch as they play for the ultimate prize and – for both – a chance to make history.

“I’m also going into that match with some pressure, but I’m excited about it,” Federer said. “That’s what I play for.”

The world is watching. A country is holding its breath. History will be made once again on the immaculate lawns of Centre Court Sunday.

Categories: Columnist,Tennis