Roger Federer will tomorrow walk on to Centre Court, the court that he regards as his own, with the chance to win a sixth Wimbledon title and a record 15th Grand Slam title in all.
I believed before a ball was hit at these Championships that he would achieve that aim this fortnight and I still do. The greatest of all time will prevail. Andy Roddick played magnificently to beat Andy Murray yesterday and he's playing his best tennis in years, if not of his life. But I still think Roger will have too much for Andy in most departments.
Federer has it all. I can tell you at length how he beat Tommy Haas yesterday but it's simple. Federer was too damn good from the first serve. Federer's serve stats alone tell a story: 75 per cent of first serves in, 89 per cent of those first serves won, and 81 per cent of second serve points won.
We'll come to Roddick's serve in a moment, the biggest pound-for-pound rocket on the tour. But Federer's power, variety and placement of serve is astonishing. The thing with Federer is that he has an awesome all-round game to back it up, so perhaps it doesn't get the credit it deserves.
Federer's movement is truly great. He still floats like a butterfly and stings like a cannonball. He plays on instinct, two or three shots ahead, looking way up the road like a great chess strategist. Because he reads the game so well, that helps him to be in the right place. He makes it look effortless. He did against Tommy.
So his serve is brilliant, his movement is supreme, his forehand is killer, and so is his "weak" backhand, which, on a bad day, still happens to be better than most players' on a good day. He's fit. He can win from the back if he chooses, yet he'll come in. He'll mix up his game. He also has creativity in heaps. He'll play shots you won't believe.
Then there's his demeanour; always cool, in control, graceful, poised. He doesn't have to play at the top of his game to win. I also think he'll get a read on Roddick's serve earlier and better than Murray did.
Roddick will have to be playing his "A" game again to stand any chance, and catch Federer on an off day. I don't think Federer will have 15 Slams in his mind, or be more relieved to be facing Roddick than Murray, even though his record is better against Roddick. He'll just be Zen-like in his focus on winning the tennis match ahead of him, one point at a time.
The story of Roddick's win yesterday, in my view, was he hit 75 per cent of first serves in, Murray hit 52 per cent in. That's the briefest story of the match, right there. Yet it was a good match, competitive, one in which Murray can take huge pride. He has no reason to let his head slip. I know it won't mean a crap to him to hear it this morning but your street fighter should be proud of what he's done. Hey Andy, you're only 22 and, believe me, your chances lie ahead, your time will come.
Roddick came in a lot, played drop volleys and angled volleys at the net, drops from further back. His serve was big and consistent. He played brilliant, calm, precise tennis. He moved wonderfully. He played the big points well. He's in the zone; now for the danger zone.
Rod v Rog: Route to the final and past record
bt Jeremy Chardy (France) 6-3, 7-6, 4-6, 6-3
A potential banana skin for Roddick against the world No 41 Chardy, who like Roddick has a booming first serve. It took four sets but Roddick made it through in relative comfort.
bt Igor Kunitsyn (Russia) 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2
Another solid performance from the American who always looked in control other than a blip in the third set. In the end 18 aces and 17 winners was too much for the Russian. The victory also brought him up to 100 career wins in Grand Slams.
bt Jürgen Melzer (26th seed, Austria) 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-3
The in-form Austrian was a more of a test . Roddick struggled with his second serve but still gave away only four unforced errors in the first two sets.
bt Tomas Berdych (20th seed, Czech Republic) 7-6, 6-4, 6-3
Roddick lifted his game as for the first time in the tournament he won in straight sets. He conceded only eight unforced errors throughout and fired in 24 aces to book his place in the last eight.
bt Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4
Old foe Hewitt provided the American with his first true test of the tournament as the Australian took him all the way in a gruelling, five-set epic lasting almost four hours. In the end fitness saw Roddick through, as did his serve as he fired in a career-best 43 aces.
bt Andy Murray 6-4 4-6 7-6 7-6
The American dashes British hopes, meaning it will be at least 74 years since a home winner at SW19
bt Yen-Hsun Lu (Taiwan) 7-5, 6-3, 6-2
Federer won in straight sets, although Lu gave him a good fight, holding his serve until his sixth service game in the first set.
bt Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (Spain) 6-2, 6-2, 6-4
Federer stayed on course for a sixth Wimbledon win in seven years with a simple straight-sets win over the unseeded Garcia-Lopez. Though not to be underestimated at No 42 in the world rankings, the Spaniard was bypassed easily.
bt. Philipp Kohlschreiber (27th seed, Germany) 6-3, 6-2, 6-7, 6-1
Kohlschreiber has the honour of being the only man to take a set off the Swiss so far in this year's event. However, that came in the third set when Federer was taking his foot off the pedal, but the fourth set, a 6-1 mauling, proved the gulf between the two.
bt Robin Soderling (13th seed, Sweden) 6-4, 7-6, 7-6
Having ended Rafael Nadal's supremacy on clay in the French Open, Soderling was a potentially tough opponent. However the 13th seed from Sweden couldn't maintain his charge for long, and was dispatched in straight sets.
bt Ivo Karlovic (22th seed, Croatia) 6-3, 7-5, 7-6
At 6ft 10in, much was made of the Croatian's serve before the encounter. A tight game, separated by tie-breaks was anticipated, due to the fact that Karlovic had gone an incredible 80 service game without being broken. Federer, however, broke the Croat in only his second service game. Although it was tight, Federer's class eased him through against Karlovic's power.
bt Tommy Haas (24th seed, Germany) 7-6, 7-5, 6-3
Haas, 31, was an unexpected semi-finalist, having never reached a Grand Slam singles final before. This was the furthest he would progress, however, as Federer cruised to a straight sets victory in two hours and two minutes.
Head to Head
*Previous meetings: 20
*Roddick wins: 2
*Federer wins: 18
*2001 Federer won 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 at Basel
*2002 Federer won 7-6, 6-4 at Sydne; Federer won 7-6, 6-1 at Basel
*2003 Federer won 7-6, 6-3, 6-3 at Wimbledon; Roddick won 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 at ATP Master Series Canada; Federer won 7-6, 6-2 at Tennis Masters Cup Texas
*2004 Federer won 4-6, 7-5, 7-6, 6-4 at Wimbledon; Federer won 7-5, 6-3 at ATP Masters Series Canada Federer won 6-4, 6-0 at Bangkok
*2005 Federer won 6-2, 7-6, 6-4 at Wimbledon; Federer won 6-3, 7-5 at ATP Masters series Cincinnati
*2006 Federer won 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 at US Open; Federer won 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 at Tennis Masters Cup China
*2007 Federer won 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 at Australian Open; Federer won 7-6, 7-6, 6-2 at US Open; Federer won 6-4, 6-2 at Tennis Masters Cup China
*2008 Roddick won 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 at ATP Masters Series Miami
*2009 Federer won 6-3, 7-5, 7-5 at Australian Open; Federer won 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami; Federer won 7-5, 6-7, 6-1 at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 MadridReuse content