Swedish tennis legend Mats Wilander has never been afraid to call it as he sees it and he was bold enough to call out Roger Federer’s tactics in his heartbreaking Wimbledon final defeat against Novak Djokovic.
Wilander, who won seven grand slams but never made it past the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, questioned Federer’s decision to go for big serves up the middle against the Serbian when he had match points.
“Djokovic would never have gone for it,” Wilander told L’Equipe. “It is basic, serve at the weak point of your opponent.”
Wilander believes Federer is paying the price for how superior he was to his rivals from 2004 to 2007 when he won 11 of a possible 12 Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles.
“In those vital moments, Federer was paying for the years between 2004 and 2007 where he dominated his rivals so much that he never had to play an important game,” Wilander said.
“He was not tested enough then, it was too easy for him, so he did not improve tactically.
“Nowadays, however, he’s faced with guys like Rafa Nadal and Djokovic, who are the masters in these tactical matters, and he does not play the important points correctly.”
A viral tweet which shows a side by side comparison of Federer’s almost identical approach to match point against Djokovic at 8-7 40-30 in the fifth set and against Andy Murray in 2012 showed just how close the line is between ecstasy and agony.
Why it couldn't have been the same ? pic.twitter.com/SFQMN3bSUe
Wilander had been realistic about Federer’s chances pre-tournament, labelling it his best chance to claim a 21st slam title but rating him behind Djokovic and semi-final opponent Rafael Nadal.
“Wimbledon is (Federer’s) best chance … this is the only one that he has a chance to win,” the now Eurosport tennis analyst said.
“He’s not the favourite. Because of the five sets I think we don’t know how he’s going to react in a couple of five-set matches. I’m not sure if Federer is able to win in five sets anymore.
“I would say it’s Novak and Roger and Rafa (Nadal), basically the same as always. I think Novak has the slight edge over the other two because of what happened at the French (Open).”
So close. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
He was proved correct on that point and despite some claims he’s a regular Federer hater, Wilander has also been criticised for being in the Swiss’ corner.
He famously claimed Australian Open officials should doctor conditions to suit Federer a couple of years back. “If I was a tournament director, I would speed up the court so Roger Federer can play for three or four more years. He is probably the best thing in professional sports,” Wilander said.
Federer wasn’t strongly questioned about his tactics post-match but said: “It was long and had everything. I had my chances, but so did he. I have to be happy with my performance. But Novak congratulations, that was crazy. I hope I give some other people a chance to believe around the world. I gave it all I had and I can still stand.”
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