We’ve waited a long time, but finally, one of the greatest rivalries in recent tennis history comes to Wimbledon… and Fedal XL is happening today too.
In all seriousness, between Novak Djokovic taking on his Spanish kryptonite Roberto Bautista Agut, and the long-awaited rematch of the 2008 final, the hype for men’s semi-final day at Wimbledon 2019 is as real as it is deserved. No matter what your thoughts on the men’s tournament so far, you can’t deny the appeal it has produced in these matches. Read on for a look at both encounters, on day 11 at Wimbledon:
Novak Djokovic (SRB)  v Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)  – First on Centre Court
His only real opposition so far this tournament being his own focus, Novak Djokovic could hardly have enjoyed a more straightforward run to the semi-finals, but now he gets an opponent in Roberto Bautista Agut who might not have the name, but definitely has the game to trouble the Serb. Sitting at 3-7 in the head-to-head, you might not think RBA has that much of a chance, but then you consider he’s won their past two meetings (both this year) and indeed hasn’t lost off-clay to Djokovic since the 2015 US Open, and we might have a match on our hands. Of course, knocking off Djokovic at a major is a far bigger ask than anything RBA has done previously, but the Spaniard’s uniquely-flattened forehand is still going to pose a problem, and as long as he is able to keep the Serb from hitting repeatedly to his weaker backhand, the hope will be there. Will he be able to maintain it over five sets? Who knows? Is there a chance Djokovic comes out in “Thanovic” mode and negates his game entirely? Absolutely. In any case, it should be an entertaining contest.
Rafael Nadal (ESP)  v Roger Federer (SUI)  – Second on Centre Court
Eleven years, four kids, a bit less hair, and 22 major titles since they last met at SW19, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are back to face each other at Wimbledon. It probably goes without saying that this is the biggest non-final in Wimbledon history, and indeed, a bigger occasion than many deciders too. Historical significance aside, it’s also a simply fascinating game of tennis in prospect, with a case to be made for either player to take the win. As of writing, Nadal is the bookies’ favourite, and rightfully so – he’s played better tennis this tournament, holds a 24-15 advantage in the head-to-head, and while Federer heads their rivalry off-clay 13-10, the Spaniard is 4-3 in non-clay matches at slam-level. That said, the Swiss maestro definitely has a good chance – he has the better serve, while Nadal’s topspin isn’t going to be quite as vicious here as it was a month ago in Paris, and as we’ve seen him do several times since the start of 2017, that same “battering ram” tactic the Spaniard always employs into the Federer backhand can work in the latter’s favour if he is able to consistently step into it. Still, if I had to put money on it, I’d bet on Rafa wearing him down over five sets, but it’s there for either man to take, and is sure to be an enthralling affair regardless.