US Open Men's Final: Novak Djokovic vs. Roger Federer

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While the women’s US Open final this year may have been too hard to predict, the men’s final will feature an all-too-familiar pairing. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will take on World No. 2 Roger Federer in the 2015 US Open Final on Sunday in New York City. The two rivals are the best tennis players on the planet right now, but only one can get the cigar in the end after Sunday’s final.

Both men were able to navigate their respective draws in this tournament with relative ease. Djokovic dropped a set to Feliciano Lopez and Roberto Bautista Agut, while Federer has yet to drop a single set in the event. They made quick work of their opponents in their semifinal matches, with Djokovic only losing three games to last year’s champion Marin Cilic and Federer losing eight games to countryman Stan Wawrinka.

Bettors won’t gather too much from their head-to-head record as Federer has the slight edge over Djokovic 21-20. So what will the difference be? Clever tactics. In order to find out who can carry out their strategy better we’ll have to analyze their recent hard court play.

Just a couple of weeks ago we saw Djokovic make it to two preliminary hard court finals in Montreal and in Cincinnati, however how walked away with the second place trophy in both. It was the first time fans began to question his invincibility this season after two consecutive runner-up finishes. At the Rogers Cup it was a loss to familiar foe Andy Murray, and in Cincinnati he fell to the man he’ll meet again on Sunday, Roger Federer. However, the event we’ve concentrated on is their Cincinnati meeting.

At Cincinnati it was the first time we saw Federer stepping up to the service box to hit half-volley returns, which would immediately put his opponents on defense. Hardly anyone mentioned Federer’s new tactic in the early rounds of the event, but soon after Federer beat Djokovic in the final everyone took notice. This style of play, which has now been dubbed SABR attack (sneak attack by Roger), is the element that has the chance to make the difference between Federer controlling the match come Sunday or continuing on with his Grand Slam title drought since 2012.

For Djokovic, he’ll have to hope him and his team is prepared to counter Federer’s new style of play. There wasn’t much time for Djokovic to adapt and develop a game plan against Federer’s new strategy during the Cincinnati event, but now after a couple of weeks we’re sure he’s had plenty of time to think about it. The question will become if his counter measures can be effective. The US Open has always been the hardest event for Djokovic to win, but he may finally start to see better results now that the Arthur Ashe Stadium has some new roof features that have introduced indoor like conditions for its center court. The conditions favor the better ball striker and with his great return game and improved service game it could be all he needs to get his second victory in New York.

How They Got Here

Novak Djokovic

  • First round: def. Joao Souza 6-1, 6-1, 6-1
  • Second round: def. Andreas Haider-Maurer 6-4, 6-1, 6-2
  • Third round: def. Andreas Seppi 6-3, 7-5, 7-5
  • Fourth round: def. Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
  • Quarterfinals: def Feliciano Lopez 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-2)
  • Semifinals: def. Marin Cilic 6-0, 6-1, 6-2

Roger Federer

  • First round: def. Leonardo Mayer 6-1, 6-2, 6-2
  • Second round: def. Steve Darcis 6-1, 6-2, 6-1
  • Third round: def. Phillipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
  • Fourth round: def. John Isner 7-6 (7-0), 7-6 (8-6), 7-5
  • Quarterfinals: def. Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-3, 6-1
  • Semifinals: def. Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-3, 6-1

OUR PICK

In the end, we’re not convinced that Djokovic is ready to be offensively sound enough to throw Federer off. Right now Federer’s service game is so close to untouchable that even if sets were to come down to winning tie breaks it won’t be as difficult for him as it would be for Djokovic to win them since Federer loses fewer points on his service games. Going into Cincinnati, Federer was quite aware that he couldn’t beat Djokovic from the baseline. He’d have to throw in some old school chip/charging, half return volleys, along with serve and volleying to offset Djokovic. It’s exactly the game plan we see Federer choosing and executing come Sunday.

If you’ve been with us from the beginning then you’re doing quite well seeing both of our top men’s picks have reached the final. If you’re just joining the party get the popcorn ready for a thrilling match, and when you get to the sports book take Federer for the win or the over on 41.5 games.

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