Federer’s Keys to Victory:
1. Serve well- For Federer, it might not all end with the serve, but it definitely all starts with it. It might not be the biggest, but Federer still has one of the best serves on tour. Even a great returner like Djokovic couldn’t do much against Federer’s serve when it was on in the semifinals. Federer is not a player who will win a match by relying only on his serve (not that he needs to), but if his serve is not there it will make things quite a bit tougher on him.
2. Stay confident- Federer has shown a disturbing disinterest in some big matches recently. He showed it against Tsonga in the quarterfinals here last year, against Del Potro for much of the match at the French Open this year, and for a while against Benneteau this tournament. He certainly didn’t show it against Djokovic in the semifinals, but Federer’s attitude has become a little unpredictable at this stage in his career. You would think that he will be completely motivated in a Grand Slam final and in a match where he will become World #1 if he wins, but if Federer doesn’t show up mentally then he could be in trouble
3. Get the serve back- The serve has been a surprisingly strong part of Murray’s game this tournament. It hasn’t faltered in the later rounds like we’ve sometimes seen happen in the past. Federer, though, needs to get involved in Murray’s service games. This means getting the first serve back and trying to play the rallies from relatively even terms. It will not be easy as Murray’s first strong has been tough for just about everyone to deal with this tournament. But if he wants to be able to break Murray he will need to neutralize what has quickly become his biggest weapon.
4. Attack the second serve- Murray may have the weakest second serve of any top player on tour. Federer has shown a tendency in his career to not go after weak serves. But for a player with as weak of a second serve as Murray, his second serve should almost be like offering free points. Federer should be able to hit a big forehand off of just about every one of them. Federer rarely does this when he has the chance, which is a shame. There are a lot of free points that he often leaves on the table by not attacking these serves.
5. Don’t get frustrated- We usually think of Federer as being very calm on court, but he really does struggle against counterpunchers. It’s not so much that he gets frustrated, it’s that eventually one of his shots break down. That’s why he has so much trouble against players like Murray and Gilles Simon. It should bother him less on grass than on other surfaces, but the constant defense of Murray can really get to him eventually. If he lets that happen then this match could quickly go in a direction he doesn’t like.
Murray’s Keys to Victory:
1. Don’t choke- This is, first and foremost, the biggest thing for Murray in Grand Slam finals. He has been in three of them. In all three, he really looked as good as or better than his opponent coming into the final. Murray just hasn’t shown up in any of them. That’s a trend that he needs to change. It’s the reason he hired Ivan Lendl. Murray has to just forget the occasion and play his normal game. He can beat Federer. He actually leads the head-to-head 8-7. He just needs to play as himself in a big match for once instead of what he usually does. Centre Court seems to help calm him, so maybe it won’t be as bad as in the past at the Australian and US Opens. But he definitely can’t afford to show up mentally at anything less than 100% here.
2. Serve big- Murray has won himself a ton of free points from his first serve this tournament. But the serve is very important for Murray for two reasons. Not only is the first serve a big weapon, but the second serve is a huge weakness. Federer isn’t known for attacking weak serves, but that’s not an opening that Murray can afford to give him. Murray needs to use the first serve to win free points, or at the very least take control of the rally, but he also needs to keep the first serve percentage high because he can’t afford to give Federer too many looks at second serves.
3. Hit his targets- Federer will come in to the net a lot this match. Actually, Tsonga was probably a good opponent for Murray to prepare for this. But while Federer might not be as athletic as Tsonga, his anticipation at the net is basically unequaled on tour right now. Murray is going to have to line up his passing shots very carefully when Federer comes in and thread the needle consistently.
4. Use his backhand down the line- It hasn’t hurt him much recently, but Murray has decided not to use one of his biggest weapons in the past few years or so. Murray had one of the best two-handed backhands in the game and it used to be a huge weapon for him. When he would take that backhand down the line he could put away just about anyone with it. Murray still uses good placement with the backhand and it’s a good rally shot, but it’s far from the massive weapon that it can be. And if he wants to beat Federer in a Grad Slam final, he’s going to need every weapon he can get.
Prediction: History is riding on this match no matter what. If Murray wins, he will be the first British Wimbledon (or any Slam) champion since 1936. Federer will take over World #1 with a win and break Pete Sampras’s all-time record for weeks at #1. We really are getting different vibes from these players coming into this match too. Murray seems to be contained rage, while Federer reminds us of his cool determination that he showed at the French Open lat year (also the last time he beat Djokovic). Federer just seems too composed to lose, but Murray’s run this tournament has an almost destiny-like feel to it. In the end though, Murray just feels like he’s going to crack eventually. Federer won’t.
Federer in 5