Wimbledon 2012: Men’s final preview
July 8, 2012 · Print This Article
by: Tom Cochrane
Serena Williams won her fifth women’ singles title at the All England Club on Day 12, overcoming a mid-match meltdown to defeat a gallant Agnieszka Radwanska in 3 sets.
Day 12 Recap
Many tennis fans were wondering if Radwanska would suffer any nerves playing in her first Grand Slam final. The Pole was very tight early on in the match, dropping her opening two service games as Williams imposed herself on the contest. The third-seeded Radwanska managed to win a game late in the first set, but a bagel was about all she avoided in the opening set as Williams claimed it 6-1.
After a brief rain delay, the second set appeared to going the same way as the first, with Williams breaking serve and taking a 4-2 lead. But with the match seemingly almost over, Radwanska managed to relax and started playing much better tennis. As Williams’ serve started to misfire, Radwanska began stepping into the court and taking the ball earlier, which allowed her to put Williams under some pressure for the first time in the match.
A poor service game from Williams allowed the Pole to level the second set at 4 games apiece, and a noticeably tight Williams again lost serve at 5-6 to hand Radwanska the second set. Suddenly, the Centre Court crowd had a match on its hands, and everyone was debating whether Williams would be able to recompose herself.
After fighting through the opening 4 games of the set to level at 2-all, Williams went back to basics, getting her first serve into play, stepping into the court and generally rediscovering the aggressive play that had catapulted her into the final. Two successive service breaks gave the American the chance to serve for the championship, and she claimed it in style, smacking a sizzling backhand winner down the line before collapsing to the ground in joy.
For Williams, it was the fourteenth singles major of her illustrious career, and one that clearly meant a lot to her after all of her injury and health problems over the last two years. For Radwanska, it was a great tournament and the Pole refused to roll over in the final, which is a credit to her competitive spirit and tenacity. It might not be the last time we see her in a Grand Slam final
Match of the Day – Day 12
Roger Federer vs. Andy Murray
Both players head into this final with a lot on the line. For Andy Murray, it’s another chance to win his first Grand Slam final. Having lost his first 3 major finals, Murray now gets to play his fourth final at home, with the British media and public desperate for their first local men’s champion since 1936. For Federer, it’s a chance to equal the Wimbledon record for men’s singles titles, reclaim the world number one ranking and extend his record of Grand Slam singles titles to 17.
This match-up is an intriguing one, as Murray leads the head-to-head count over Federer, having won 8 of their 15 career meetings. But while Murray has been able to beat Federer in regular ATP Tour tournaments, the Swiss master is responsible for two of the three defeats in Grand Slam finals that Murray has suffered, suggesting the third seed handles the big occasions better than the Scot.
Murray has played a fantastic tournament and, having been the favourite in all of his matches to date, in some ways I think he will be more relaxed in this match knowing that most people expect Federer to win. Playing on the grass will give Murray another advantage, as the sets will be tight for the most part, and if the Scot can defend his second serve points as well as he has throughout the tournament to date, then he will prove hard to break.
Federer played a superb match against Djokovic, serving particularly well and getting plenty of bite on his forehand. That match was played undercover, and having the roof closed assisted Federer as it gave his serve a bit more speed and generally increased the speed of the court. If the final is played with the roof open, as is forecast at this stage, then I think that will help Murray, who will look to take his time in constructing points.
In many ways, of his 4 major finals I think this represents Murray’s best chance at winning a Grand Slam. In his first couple of finals, I think Murray simply expected it would happen, and Federer turned Murray’s dreams into nightmares in ruthless fashion. In his last final, in Melbourne last year, Murray was simply outplayed by a dynamic Djokovic. This time around, Murray knows not to expect anything, but still believes he can win if he plays his best tennis.
To my mind, this is almost a 50-50 contest. I’ll back Federer, on the basis of his far greater experience at this stage of major tournaments, but as noted above, there is a lot riding on this match for both players, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see each of them get tense at various stages. Whoever can defend their second serve best, and capitalise on their break point opportunities, will prevail. Federer in 5.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve to wrap up the men’s final tomorrow.