By Ros Satar, at Wimbledon

  • Novak Djokovic [12] v Kevin Anderson [12]
  • H2H: Djokovic leads 5-1
WIMBLEDON, UK – Three-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic takes on Kevin Anderson for the Gentlemen’s Singles title.

 

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It is a first time Wimbledon final for US Open finalist Kevin Anderson, but maybe for Novak Djokovic there is unfinished business as he returns to the final in search of a fourth title.

Novak Djokovic’s path to the final

Novak Djokovic in the second round of Wimbledon 2018

Novak Djokovic in the second round of Wimbledon 2018 | (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

  • R1: Tennys Sandgren 6-3 6-1 6-2
  • R2: Horacio Zeballos 6-1 6-2 6-3
  • R3: Kyle Edmund [21] 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-4
  • R4: Karen Khachanov 6-4 6-2 6-2
  • QF: Kei Nishikori [24] 6-3 3-6 6-2 6-2
  • SF: Rafael Nadal [2] 6-4 3-6 7-6(9) 3-6 10-8

Unbelievably, given his slide down the rankings thanks to injury issues, Djokovic is bidding to become the lowest ranked man to win Wimbledon since Goran Ivanisevic.in 2001. By reaching the final he became the lowest-ranked man to do so since Ni. 48 Mark Philippoussis finished as the runner up in 2003.

He is 12-9 in his previous 21 Grand Slam finals and comes into Wimbledon with a 3-1 record – losing to Andy Murray in 2013. It will be the first time he has not faced a player other than Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Murray in a Wimbledon final.

 

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Kevin Anderson’s path to the final

Kevin Anderson in the third round of Wimbledon 2018

Kevin Anderson in the third round of Wimbledon 2018 | (OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

  • R1: Norbert Gombos [Q] 6-3 6-4 6-4
  • R2: Andreas Seppi 6-3 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4
  • R3: Philipp Kohlschreiber [25] 6-3 7-5 7-5
  • R4: Gael Monfils 7-6(4) 7-6(2) 5-7 7-6(4)
  • QF: Roger Federer [1] 2-6 6-7(5) 7-5 6-4 13-11
  • SF: John Isner [9] 7-6(60 6-7(5) 6-7(9) 6-4 26-24

Anderson is bidding to become the 150th men’s singles Grand Slam champion in history. Bizarrely the 149th man was Marin Cilic – all the way bac to the 2014 US Open when he became the first man to break the Big Four stranglehold on titles.

Anderson, who made his first grand Slam final at the US Open in 2017 could become the first player to win Wimbledon from being match-points down in a previous round, coming back from two sets and a match point down to Federer in the quart-final.

 

POLL – Who will win the Gentlemen’s Singles title?

 

Novak Djokovic [12] v Kevin Anderson [12] | H2H: Djokovic leads 5-1

It is a seventh meeting for the pair, and their third at SW19, and Djokovic has not lost to Anderson since their first meeting at AMS Miami in 2008.

More importantly on the grass though, it has been a more positive progressing for Anderson – their first meeting in the second round was a straight sets rout for Djokovic, bit in 2015, Djokovic was made to work hard for his fourth round win where he had to come from two sets down before going on to claim the title against Federer that year.

It is that fact that Djokovic would do well to hold on to. He has gone from mournfully declaring that he felt like he had played his first ATP match back in Indian Wells this year, to equally negatively declaring he was not even sure he would play the grass after losing in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros. The clay felt like a slam too soon for Djokovic. This feels like his injury woes, subsequent surgery and rehabilitation has come full circle since his retirement last year in the quarter-final.

Anderson has been through the ringer – he has played two lengthy fifth sets in the quarter-final and semi=final, and there is of course a worry that this will finally catch up with him in the most important match of his life.

Djokovic has not been without trials and tribulations – there was a controversial line call against Kyle Edmund in the third round, he was in danger of having his match on Manic Monday cancelled altogether as Anderson and Gael Monfils flirted with a fifth set, and then he and Nadal were scheduled after the gruelling marathon between Anderson and John Isner. His semi-final was split over two days, and also involved a lengthy decider, so this will be as much a test of character than anything else.

Experience will tell though. Djokovic is one of the best returners in the game and will be able to handle Anderson’s serve. However Anderson and Isner were able to produce some outstanding rallies, so Djokovic will not be able to gamble on Anderson not being able to keep up with him, but he will make the rangy South African play an extra ball.

We expect Anderson to come out swinging free and making a statement – why not? He came back from match-point and two sets down to the World No.1 and defending champion Federer and proved himself to be nigh on invincible against Isner. This is likely to be a long one.

Prediction: Djokovic in four sets.

 

The Gentlemen’s Singles final takes place on Sunday.

 

 

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