Today's big match: Roger Federer v Andy Roddick
Let's cut to the chase. Roger Federer will beat Andy Roddick today to win the Wimbledon title for a sixth time. He will stand alone, unequivocally and in hard numbers, as the champion of champions. His 15th Slam title will take him past Pete Sampras's record of 14 – one great replacing another.
Federer and Sampras met only once on a tennis court in the heat of competitive battle. That was at Wimbledon, of course, in 2001, when Federer won their fourth-round meeting to halt Sampras's annexation of an event he'd won in seven of the eight previous years. Roger had to wait until 2003 for his first title, but boy, he's never looked back.
We can go through Roger's strengths but they're obvious to anyone who's ever seen him play: terrific, varied, powerful serve; the movement of a dancer; a forehand every bit as lethal as an executioner's swing; a one-handed backhand that works like a wand – magic on tap. The guy is a genius, creatively and athletically. I suspect that you get the message by now that I'm a fan.
Roddick earned his place in the final with a tip-top Friday of wang, bang serves, but not just that. His mixing up of play was way beyond anything I've ever seen him produce in such an important match. Holy mackerel! As soon as I saw that audacious drop shot that set up the set point in the first set at 5-4 to Roddick with Andy Murray serving, I thought that Murray (pictured left) could be staring down the barrel. Roddick was using drops, slices and all kinds of funk, and all this was laid over the bedrock of the big booming serves that were particularly "on" during the key passages of play in the crucial tie-breaks.
How will Roddick feel today, against a man who has beaten him in 18 of their 20 previous meetings? Loose as a goose. That's my belief, at any rate. His coach, Larry Stefanki, has worked with some fiery characters and got the best from them. He worked with Johnny Mac, and after McEnroe with Marcelo Rios and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, both of whom he helped to No 1 in the world. Laid-back Larry is as cool as a cucumber and I think he'll have the A-Rod prepared and calm, ready for the biggest challenge a player can face: Federer on his Wimbledon lawn.
So how will this match go? The pair have played it out twice before on Centre Court in the final, in 2004 and 2005. In the first of those matches, Roddick took a set but the next time they met in SW19, Federer was up another level yet again and Roddick lost in three. "Too darn good," was his own assessment afterwards.
Roddick's prayer of a chance lies in him having his very best day with first service (75 per cent in or higher), using the variety of play that helped him cut up Murray, and with it the belief that he can win.
He has nothing to lose. But then neither does Federer, who's playing good tennis by his own standards and great tennis by everyone else's.
We could have a hell of a spectacle. And Federer will win.
Tale of the tape
Place of birth: Nebraska
Turned pro: 2000
Height: 6ft 2in
World ranking: No 6
Wimbledon seeding: No 6
Career titles: 27
Career prize money: £10m
Wimbledon record: W39 L8
Wimbledon best: twice runner-up
Place of birth: Basel
Turned pro: 1998
Height: 6ft 1in
World ranking: No 2
Wimbledon seeding: No 2
Career titles: 59
Career prize money: £29m
Wimbledon record: W50 L5
Wimbledon best: five-times winner
Head to Head
2001: Basel, Federer, 3-6 6-3 7-6
2002: Sydney, Federer, 7-6 6-4
2002: Basel, Federer, 7-6 6-1
2003: Wimbledon, Federer, 7-6 6-3 6-3
2003: Montreal, Roddick, 6-4 3-6 7-6
2003: Houston, Federer, 7-6 6-2
2004: Wimbledon, Federer, 4-6 7-5 7-6 6-4
2004: Toronto, Federer, 7-5 6-3
2004: Bangkok, Federer, 6-4 6-0
2005: Wimbledon, Federer, 6-2 7-6 6-4
2005: Cincinnati, Federer, 6-3 7-5
2006: US Open, Federer, 6-2 4-6 7-5, 6-1
2006: Shanghai, Federer, 4-6 7-6 6-4
2007: Australian Open, Federer, 6-4 6-0 6-2
2007: US Open, Federer, 7-6 7-6 6-2
2007: Shanghai, Federer, 6-4 6-2
2008: Miami, Roddick, 7-6 4-6 6-3
2009: Australian Open, Federer, 6-2 7-5 7-5
2009: Miami, Federer, 6-3 4-6 6-4 2009: Madrid, Federer, 7-5 6-7 6-1
Federer leads 18-2Reuse content