Wimbledon repeat: Federer-Murray face off in final
On Sunday, he plays for Olympic gold in singles. That’s new even for him.
The final will be a rematch of the game the top-ranked player won on the same court in the Wimbledon final a month ago. His opponent, British player Andy Murray, is hoping the novelty of the situation will give him a slim advantage. Federer is also trying to complete a career Golden Slam — all four major titles and an Olympic win.
“It’s so rare for him to be in a position where he’s trying to do something new because he’s achieved so much in tennis. I hope that will even things out a little bit,” said Murray, whose head-to-head record against Federer is 8-8. “It’s going to be a tough match.”
Federer acknowledged being emotionally drained after his semifinal win Friday over Juan Martin del Potro, the longest best-of-three set match in Open history at four hours and 26 minutes.
But few believe that the match will detract from his performance on Sunday on a court where he has celebrated so many triumphs.
“Maybe that’s what’s helped me over the years, just being in that situation time and time again, you know, playing for something really, really big, playing for records, history books, big wins, titles, all that stuff,” Federer said of his battle with del Potro. “Maybe that’s what kept me calm, to be honest, more than actually being out on Wimbledon Centre Court.”
In the Wimbledon final, Federer lost the first set and won the next three for his 17th Grand Slam title. Murray has yet to win a major, and his camp includes Ivan Lendl, who also went 0-4 in his first four Grand Slam finals but finished up with eight major titles.
Federer, who won a gold medal in doubles in Beijing in 2008, said after the marathon against del Potro that he planned to get a good night’s sleep and warm up beginning Saturday.
“Hopefully you wake up and don’t feel too stiff and on Sunday hopefully play a pretty good match. It’s pretty straightforward from here, to be honest,” he said casually.
Murray, who defeated Novak Djokovic in the other semifinal, was debating what he needs to change against Federer. In the Wimbledon final, the Swiss raised his game dramatically when the roof closed because of rain. The Olympic final will be best-of-five sets, in contrast to the earlier rounds.
“There’s a few things I’ll maybe do differently,” the third-seeded Briton said. “But tactically, I was pretty good in that final. I had my opportunities in the second set. I went for my shots on those chances. Just maybe didn’t make the best shot selection.”
Murray said it took him a few days to get over that loss, but he is now buoyed by the enthusiastic support of the British crowds. Slow to warm up to him — possibly because he can have a dour demeanor on the court — they’ve gradually come around.
With other Olympic sports creating distractions, the type of local scrutiny that targets him every year at Wimbledon has been minimized.
“Now I can actually turn the TV on and watch all the other sports,” he said. “I don’t have to hear anybody talking about me. I can support all the other athletes. That’s what’s nice about it.”
Federer, however, is aware of what losing feels like. Despite his success, he’s learned how to deal with loss, too.
“You make it sound like I’ve never been on the other side. I’ve been there plenty of times as well,” Federer said to a journalist who asked him about his long list of defeated opponents. “I think you move on. You grow as a person and as a player. There’s not only just negatives in a loss.”