LONDON — For all their time on the world’s biggest tennis stage – Roger Federer in 24 Grand Slam finals and Novak Djokovic in 13 – two of the sport’s “Big 4” have met in only one major final: Federer won in straight sets at the 2007 U.S. Open.
They’ll renew their rivalry in a championship match at Wimbledon on Sunday and equal a Grand Slam record. It’s the 12th time they’ve met in any round of a major, equaling Djokovic’s duel with Rafael Nadal in majors.
Federer leads Djokovic 6-5 in Grand Slam tournaments, including a win the only time they’ve met at Wimbledon – Federer prevailing in four sets in the 2012 semifinals, the only time they’ve met on grass.
The Swiss star holds an 18-16 edge in career matches, although Djokovic has won three of five matches they’ve played since 2013, including this year on clay at Monte Carlo.
Federer is making his first appearance in a Grand Slam final since he won here in 2012, and has done it emphatically – dropping just one set in six matches.
Here are five other things to know about Sunday’s match on Centre Court at the All England Club:
A victory by Djokovic will return him to the No. 1 ranking for the first time since September of last year, taking over from Nadal. Djokovic first rose to No. 1 when he won his only Wimbledon title in 2011, although he was already guaranteed of securing the top ranking even before beating Nadal in the final.
Not this time
Defending champion Andy Murray, who lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals here, or Nadal, who was beaten by Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round, had featured in 18 consecutive Grand Slam finals.
The final match-up guarantees that 36 of the past 38 Grand Slam singles titles have gone to a member of the Big 4 – Federer, Djokovic, Murray and Nadal. For trivia buffs, the ones they didn’t win: the 2005 French Open (Juan Martin del Potro) and this year’s Australian Open (Stan Wawrinka).
“We know each other’s games. Most of the matches we’ve played against each other went the distance, so I’m going to be physically ready and fit. The key against him is trying to not allow him to dictate too much because he likes to be very aggressive, he likes to come to the net. I’m going to have to be able to get as many returns back in the court and try to also stay closer to the line, protect the baseline.”
“We both like to take charge, especially on quicker courts. He has a wonderful way of either redirecting or taking the ball early, taking pace from the opponent, even generating some of his own. There’s not really a safe place you can play into. Novak can hurt you down the line or cross-court on both sides. He’s really improved ... his forehand, his serve, his movement clearly is what stands out the most. I think for me it’s really important to stay aggressive.”