To the surprise of few, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer both advanced through their semifinal matches to set up the 33rd meeting between the two.
As of now, Federer has won 17 times while Djokovic has won 15 times, in one of the more even head to head match-ups between elite players in the history of pro tennis.
Roger defeated Novak in their only match thus far in 2014 3-6; 6-3; 6-2. This was in the tournament in Dubai which was played on hard court, the surface in which the upcoming finals showdown will be held on.
Going back since 2012, Djokovic is 5-3 vs. Federer with his previous 3 victories all being on hard court. Despite this, and the fact that Djokovic is 26 years old, compared to Federer’s 32, recent history indicates that the ongoing rivalry is as close as ever.
In the matches from 2012 on, 4 of their 8 matches have been decided in straight sets but all 4 have also featured set victories of 7-5 or a tiebreaker at 7-6, with one of those matches having both (Djokovic’s 2012 victory at the Barclays 7-6 (8-6); 7-5. Needless to say, it is fair to expect another tight one in Sunday’s final.
Djokovic had a bit of a tougher Semi’s match by beating John Isner 7-5; 6-7 (2-7); 6-1, while Federer dispatched the motivated Alexandr Dolgopolov in a relative breeze, winning 6-3; 6-1.
It has to be disappointing for Isner to fight so hard in the first two sets, especially after claiming a tiebreak victory in the second, to go down 1-6 in the third. What would have been a great victory for him turned into a disappointing outing in just a set. While I’m sure he feels fairly content with his performance, it still has to be tough to go into a third set against a guy like Djokovic in a Semi just to get beat 6-1. Sometimes that is how the cookie crumbles in tennis.
Dolgopolov also must be disappointed but for a different reason. He had such a great run this tournament and ended up losing pretty badly. Sure, it was against one of the all time greats and he has nothing to be ashamed about, but you’d have to imagine that Dolgopolov came into the match truly believing a victory may have been in store. It almost seemed destined that this was his tournament to win, even with all the odds stacked against him. For him to go out 3 and 1 must be heart wrenching for him, but at least he earned himself some confidence for the rest of 2014, and hopefully he continues to ride that wave of overall solid play.