2019 Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic was considered one of the most exciting matches ever. The Swiss Maestro had two match points in the fifth set, but failed to win his ninth Wimbledon and 21st Grand Slam title.
British coach Calvin Betton analyzed the crucial moments of that historic match. ‘If you’re playing against anybody with the quality of Djokovic on the run, maybe the best defender of all time, you’ve got no real business coming to the net from that position,’ Betton said to Metro.co.uk.
‘You want to be trying to clean off a winner, you don’t want to be carrying on the rally. ‘But essentially, Federer is tight at this stage and when you’re tight you’re hitting somewhere between fear and hope.
I always say that “choking” is essentially when a player is operating somewhere between fear and hope. That point typified it for Federer. ‘He’s fearful of missing. He gives himself too much margin and then he’s coming into the net and he’s going to hope that Djokovic misses or he gives him a really easy volley.
Djokovic hits his passing shot onto the line. Federer is hoping and has given Djokovic the whole half court to pass him in. ‘The problem, traditionally, in big matches has been that in big rallies he can be on top of the rally, he’s the dominant player, hits inside the court but he doesn’t hit close enough to the lines, forcing Djokovic to hit any proper defensive shots,’ Betton says.
‘So he’s hitting everything within the singles lines and that’s something I think Federer has a problem with in the big matches. ‘When he came back from his injury – for example in the Australian Open 2017 final against Rafael Nadal – he’d sort of got rid of that.
On big points he was just throwing caution to the wind and slapping winners – that’s when he’s at his best. But it seems in the past 12 months to have gone back to this cautious-aggressive approach that just doesn’t get it done against Djokovic."