Top two collide in Wimbledon finale
Djoker will make up for French loss
LONDON -- Greg, there have been so many twists and upsets and retirements and injuries in this tournament. We even had a guy ranked 130th in the quarterfinals of the grandest major of them all, but when we get down to the last match, who are we talking about? We're talking about Novak Djokovic, the best player in the world.
He isn't the crowd favorite. He wasn't in his ridiculous win over Juan Martin del Potro in the semifinals, and he certainly won't be against Andy Murray. But he is playing the best tennis of anyone in the tournament, Murray included.
There is very little to separate the two players, as we've seen in two of the past three majors, but there is something about the Djokovic attitude I like better. He is playing with a singular purpose. He's had his serve broken all of four times -- in two weeks. He dropped 22 aces on del Potro and turned the match around by his uncanny ability -- Murray has it, too, I know -- to turn defense into offense. He took everything del Potro had to give -- massive forehands and all -- and is still standing.
The biggest reason I like Djokovic, ironically, is the same reason to like Murray: He's so close to a championship. He's playing to win a second Wimbledon, to win a seventh major and close the gap between him and Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic is playing to affirm his No. 1 ranking with another major and give himself a chance for three in a year, as he did during his sensational 2011. He gave so much of his energy toward winning the French Open. That didn't happen, but winning Wimbledon would be a pretty nice consolation prize.
Plus, it would make him the favorite for the US Open. I can't imagine Djokovic taking his foot off of the gas now.
Murray will end British drought
How do you possibly drag yourself back out there again on Centre Court after going 4 hours and 43 minutes?
How do you summon the strength to play one of the most meaningful matches of your career when the gas tank is very nearly empty?
I really don't know.
This is why any choice other than Andy Murray doesn't make any sense. He needed only 2 hours, 52 minutes to dispose of the pesky Jerzy Janowicz on Friday and should be fresh as an English rose for Sunday's final.
Yes, Howard, I am aware that there is, ahem, a little disparity in their head-to-head record. Murray has won seven and Djokovic has won 11. I get that, H.B.
But let's look at how this thing is playing out. Murray has now reached the finals of the past four Grand Slams he's played. He lost to Roger Federer here a year ago, then beat Djokovic in a five-set final in New York. He lost a four-setter to Djokovic in Melbourne and skipped the French because of a bad back.
So, he loses the first two sets to Fernando Verdasco in the quarterfinals … and wins. He loses the first set to Janowicz … and wins. Do you seriously have any doubt that he will join the celebrated Fred Perry in the winner's circle here and end the 77-year-old British male drought here?
Murray has won 17 straight matches on grass. It says here he'll win 18.