Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Quick Picks: Federer v. Djokovic

After losing a heartbreaker at the U.S. Open to Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer has won three straight against the Serb. Can he get another?
Roger Federer vs. Novak Djokovic, 7:30, Rod Laver Arena

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have a long history that dates all the way back to their first tour level match on clay in 2006 in Monte Carlo. It would take four straight losses before Novak would notch a victory against the Mighty Federer, but since that first victory over the Swiss in Montreal in 2007, Djokovic has scored his fair share of upsets against Federer.

All in all, Djokovic has managed 6 wins in 19 matches against Federer, but he has tallied some important — even monumental — wins against him.

Novak's five-set cliffhanger that knocked Fed out of the U.S. Open before the finals for the first time in seven years was a high point. There was also the 2008 Australian Open semifinal that springboarded the Serb to his one and only Grand Slam title.

But make no mistake about it — Federer has gotten the best of Djokovic over the years. He dominated the Serb at Flushing Meadows three straight years until his luck ran out last year (even then he had 2 match points), and he's currently holding a three-match winning streak against Djokovic.

At 23, Djokovic is playing some of the finest tennis of his career. He has come through the last two rounds against Nicolas Almagro and Tomas Berdych without losing a set, and his serve was only broken once in the two straight-set victories.

Federer, searching for Grand Slam title No. 17, survived a scare in the second round against Gilles Simon, and lost a set to Tommy Robredo in the fourth round, but he breezed through the quarters against Stan Wawrinka.

But the more we look at the numbers, the harder it is to decipher what they mean. We know that Roger's mystique is not what it used to be, and Novak's confidence and desire are high.

Therefore we should expect a spirited affair, with all the brilliance that we've come to expect from these two shotmaking personalities who can turn a tennis match into an awe inspiring spectacle, complete with athleticism, theatrics, and enough tension to make your knees wobble.

Pick: Federer in 4

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