After more than two weeks of tennis at the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, only two men are left with a chance of being crowned 2018 Wimbledon men’s singles champion. Mats Wilander has provided his thoughts on the 2018 Wimbledon men’s singles final.
A tough journey to the final
Only the best can make it through to the final of a Grand Slam and there’s no denying that Kevin Anderson and Novak Djokovic deserve to be walking out on Centre Court this afternoon to compete for the 2018 Wimbledon men’s singles title.
Anderson's six-and-a-half-hour thriller against John Isner might have been the longest Grand Slam semi-final in history but Djokovic also had his own tough battle against Rafael Nadal (spanning two days and lasting over four hours). Now, one of these two will unfortunately fall at the final hurdle while the other is crowned the champion of Wimbledon.
Grass is the ideal surface for Anderson’s big serve but the biggest plus for him is that it takes away an emphasis on movement (probably his biggest weakness).
The physical edge is probably with Djokovic given that Anderson has had to get through two five-setters in a row (only two of his six matches during the tournament have been settled in the minimum required). Djokovic’s five-set match against Nadal was his first of the tournament and although he was taken to four sets by Kei Nishikori and Kyle Edmund, his other three matches were wrapped up in no time at all.
Despite the fact that Anderson has spent a lot more time on court, there are positives to be taken from that. The South African’s level hasn’t dropped throughout the tournament and he’ll be ready to grind it out if he has to. Djokovic got through his first big test against Nadal but people may doubt whether he has another gruelling match in him.
Can Djokovic handle the pressure?
A lot of people might have this down as a big mismatch and although Djokovic is undoubtedly the better player, psychology could decide this match. Djokovic has had his own battle to get back to the level he was at a few years ago and this match is effectively the culmination of all that work.
On the other side, we have Kevin Anderson. No one is expecting him to win today, he’s already beaten the tournament favourite in Roger Federer and although it’s the biggest match of his career to date, he’s playing with very little pressure.
The two players’ state of mind couldn’t be more different, Anderson will be coming away happy with his tournament no matter what happens but Djokovic really needs to win – if Djokovic were to lose the psychological impact it would have on him moving forward would be massive.
Why the surface is Anderson’s advantage
Tennis isn’t all about playing to your strengths, you have to highlight your opponent’s weaknesses as well. The way Djokovic plays is best suited to a hard court and while grass does give his ball striking a little boost, it also takes an edge off of his movement around the court (he’s probably the best mover in the game).
Given the amount of pressure on Djokovic and the fact that Anderson has never played in a Grand Slam final, it’s probably going to be a nervy opening.
Grass is the ideal surface for Anderson’s big serve but the biggest plus for him is that it takes away an emphasis on movement (probably his biggest weakness). Instead of focusing on how the surface impacts these players in terms of their strengths, it’s the weaknesses that are more important and in Anderson’s case it lessens his weakness and weakens his opponent’s strength.
How will the 2018 Wimbledon men’s final play out?
This year’s Wimbledon really has been a great tournament and we should get a really good final to finish it off. I’m not sure if Djokovic should be such a heavy favourite but I do expect him to have too much for Anderson. Although I’m anticipating a close match, I can’t see this one going five sets.
Given the amount of pressure on Djokovic and the fact that Anderson has never played in a Grand Slam final, it’s probably going to be a nervy opening and stay close early on. If Anderson is to have a chance at winning he needs to play some big tennis early and get his opponent on the back foot, if Djokovic goes a set down he might struggle mentally to get back into the match.
If Djokovic gets going early, the pressure will be off and he could easily pull away from Anderson and have it wrapped up in three sets. The great thing about this match is that there are so many factors to throw in the mix and a few of early exchanges and important points could really determine the outcome.