WIMBLEDON, England— Novak Djokovic is considered the best men’s player in tennis right now. Roger Federer is considered the best men’s player of all time.
When they face each other Sunday for a 48th time, on Wimbledon’s historic Centre Court, it will be for the All England Lawn Tennis Championship — and for more.
“I am looking to make history in this sport,” said Djokovic, the world’s No. 1- ranked player.
Federer, who at 37 is the second-oldest man to play in a Wimbledon final (Ken Rosewall was 39 when he lost to Jimmy Connors in 1974) already has made history.
He has won 20 Grand Slams, the most ever. Rafael Nadal, whom Federer beat in the semifinals Friday, has 18 and Djokovic 15. Federer also has won more matches at Wimbledon, 191, than anyone else.
Federer is thinking less of the big picture than the little one: how he can beat Djokovic, 32, who has won the last four matches between the two. That’s why Federer trails 25-22 in their rivalry.
“At the end,” Federer said, “it comes very much down to who’s better on the day, who’s in a better mental place, who’s got more energy left, who’s tougher when it really comes down to the crunch.”
And maybe on what surface the match is played.
“The grass complements his game very much,” Djokovic said. “He loves to play very fast. Takes time away from the opponent. Just doesn’t give you the same looks.”
The other day, Serena Williams, 37, credited technology as being a part of Federer’s and her own lasting power — better workouts, better equipment.
Federer has had knee troubles, but his relaxed, graceful style of play certainly has contributed to his longevity. He takes the ball early and exploits an opponent’s weakness. In the semifinals, Federer hit to Nadal’s backhand, and Nadal admitted his was off.
Federer is No. 3 in the ATP rankings, Nadal No. 2. Officials at Wimbledon use their own method for seedings, taking into account past results on grass courts. Nadal complained when Federer was made the No. 2 seed ahead of him, but Federer’s victory made the choice look good.
If Nadal is the king of clay and Federer the master of grass, Djokovic is adept on all courts.
“I’m excited about the match against Novak,” Federer said. “We had a great match in Paris just recently [a three-set win for Djokovic in 2018]. You’ve played somebody more than 15 times, there’s not much more left out there.”
Djokovic, who like Federer has won each of the Grand Slams, said, “I’ve played with Roger in some epic finals here a couple of years in a row, so I know what to expect.”
Federer will be going for his ninth Wimbledon championship, Djokovic his fifth. Two of Djokovic’s titles have come with victories over Federer in the final here in 2014 and 2015.
This will be the 11th Grand Slam tournament in succession in which Djokovic, Federer or Nadal will be the winner.
In the team sports, fans often cheer for the underdog. But in tennis, like golf, people go for the favorites.
This Wimbledon final has two of the all-time favorites.