Federer says 'stars are aligned' as Djokovic visualises Wimbledon glory

By Sports Desk July 14, 2019

Roger Federer believes the "stars are aligned" but he may have to produce another out-of-this-world performance to dethrone Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon.

Federer followed up his record 100th victory at the All England Club against Kei Nishikori by beating old rival Rafael Nadal in a classic semi-final on Friday.

The Swiss legend faces another mouthwatering duel with defending champion Djokovic in the final at SW19 on Sunday.

Federer produced a regal Centre Court masterclass to down fellow great Nadal 7-6 (7-3) 1-6 6-3 6-4 and does not feel he needs to do any homework for the challenge of taking on the world number one.

The 20-time grand slam champion said: "This is like a school: the day of the test you're not going to read, I don't know, how many books that day. You don't have the time anyhow.

"It's quite clear the work was done way before. I think that's why I was able to produce a good result against Rafa. It's been a rock-solid year from me, [I] won in Halle. 

"Stars are aligned right now. From that standpoint I can go into that match [against Djokovic] very confident."

Federer added on the battle between the top two seeds: "At the end of the day 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 to the crunch.

"In the tennis, there's always somebody who's going to be a little bit better because there's no draws in our sport. It's always quite brutal sometimes."

Top seed Djokovic has won his last three matches against Federer and beat him in both of their previous two deciders at the grass-court major.

The Serb says his use of the visualisation process has enabled him to see clearly as he strives to retain the title. 

"It is part of my pre-match routine. I also do it on the court. I think we all do it to some extent, whether it's conscious or unconscious." said the 32-year-old.

"I think it's normal that when you care about something, you want to prepare yourself the best possible. Especially on the changeovers, you visualise and imagine what the next point or next game will be like.

"It is a quite challenging battle within yourself. I think at this stage we play in one of the most important stadiums and tournaments in the world, playing semi-finals, finals, fighting for the trophy with one of the biggest rivals.

"I think the most important and probably the first win that you have to make is the one within yourself, then whatever happens externally is, I guess, a consequence or manifestation of that.

"The visualisation is part of the mental preparation. It's very, very important for me. I do it all the time."

Related items

  • Guardiola's lowest points haul, clean sheet joy for Liverpool – the Premier League Data Diary Guardiola's lowest points haul, clean sheet joy for Liverpool – the Premier League Data Diary

    Liverpool maintained their charge for a first Premier League title with a 3-0 win over Bournemouth, keeping just a third top-flight clean sheet of the season in the process.

    The Reds remain eight points ahead of Leicester City, who saw off Aston Villa 4-1 to make it eight league victories in a row – their best winning run in their top-flight history.

    But defending champions Manchester City are now 14 points adrift of top spot after tasting defeat in their derby showdown with a rejuvenated Manchester United.

    Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho made it three league wins out of four as Tottenham thrashed Burnley to close to within six points of fourth-placed Chelsea, who lost 3-1 at Everton.

    There were also wins for Newcastle United and Sheffield United, against Southampton and Norwich City respectively, while Watford played out a goalless draw with Crystal Palace and Brighton and Hove Albion took a point off Wolves.

    Our Premier League Data Diary sheds some light on the detail behind the big stories of this weekend's games.

    DERBY DEFEAT LEAVES GUARDIOLA WITH LOWEST POINTS HAUL

    Pep Guardiola admitted City could not cope with the pace of United's attacking trio of Daniel James, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford in Saturday's clash.

    City fell two goals behind inside half an hour and, despite Nicolas Otamendi pulling one back late on, they fell to a defeat that surely ends their hopes of retaining the title.

    The loss leaves the reigning champions with 32 points - the lowest return of Guardiola's managerial career after 16 matches.

    Kyle Walker refused to wave the white flag, but no English top-flight side has ever gone on to win the title after being as many as 14 points behind the top side at the end of a day.

    As for United, who beat Tottenham 2-1 on Wednesday, they are now unbeaten in five Premier League games and have won back-to-back matches for the first time since March.

    CLEAN SHEET BONUS FOR RUNAWAY REDS

    Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had extra reason to celebrate his side's win at Bournemouth, having kept a first clean sheet in 14 games in all competitions.

    In fact, toothless Bournemouth - now beaten in five successive games for the first time in their top-flight history - managed zero shots on target at the Vitality Stadium.

    Klopp's men have won 24 of their past 25 Premier League matches, including 15 out of 16 this term, and have scored two or more goals in 23 of those past 25 fixtures.

    Naby Keita marked his first league start of the season with a goal and an assist, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mohamed Salah were also on target.

    Salah's goal took him to 63 in 100 Premier League outings, with Alan Shearer (79), Ruud van Nistelrooy (68) and Sergio Aguero (64) the only players to score more in their first century of games.

    SENSATIONAL SON INSPIRES MOURINHO'S FREE-SCORING MEN

    Tottenham produced a five-star display in their emphatic triumph against Burnley, who suffered their joint-biggest margin of defeat in the Premier League.

    Mourinho saw Tottenham score five goals in his fourth Premier League game in charge, something Manchester United failed to achieve in 93 league matches under the Portuguese.

    Harry Kane bagged a brace, Lucas Moura scored a sitter and Moussa Sissoko netted for the second home game running, but it was Son Heung-min who stole the show.

    Having earlier set up Kane's opener, Son ran from one box to the other and found the net to make it 15 goal involvements in 15 appearances at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

    Dele Alli may not have registered in the one-sided contest, though he provided two assists in a Premier League game for the third time and the first since December 2017.

    VARDY CLOSING IN ON HIS OWN RECORD

    Leicester appear to be the only side standing between Liverpool and a maiden Premier League title success after coming out on top in their Midlands tussle with Aston Villa.

    Jamie Vardy helped himself to a couple of goals as the Foxes inflicted a heaviest home league defeat on Villa since they lost 4-0 to Chelsea in April 2016.

    The 32-year-old became the first player to score in eight consecutive Premier League matches since Vardy himself did so in November 2015 when netting 11 in a row.

    Only one player other than Vardy has scored in eight successive fixtures, in fact - Van Nistelrooy, who did so in 2002 and again in 2003 during his time at Manchester United.

    Kelechi Iheanacho and Jonny Evans also registered at Villa Park for Leicester, who have won their past four away Premier League matches by an aggregate score of 17-1.

  • Solskjaer battles back from the brink to leave City's title defence in ruins Solskjaer battles back from the brink to leave City's title defence in ruins

    As the Christmas season unofficially began on December 1, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looked anything but merry.

    Manchester United had been held to a 2-2 draw at home by promoted Aston Villa and the Red Devils' performance was utterly rancid for much of the game. Solskjaer appeared helpless at full-time.

    Ahead of a particularly bleak run of mid-winter fixtures, reports suggested Solskjaer could join Santa in expecting to be burdened with the sack for Christmas. Two games to save his job, some said, with Mauricio Pochettino looming large.

    Those two matches; Jose Mourinho's Tottenham and Manchester City in the derby – it wasn't the sleigh bells that were ringing. 

    Some might have been content with two points, yet they've managed to take six and left City's title defence in tatters after a 2-1 win over the champions.

    Much of the build-up was dominated by 'we're back' talk among both sets of supporters. City had crushed Burnley comprehensively, while United produced arguably their best display under Solskjaer in a 2-1 win over Tottenham.

    Saturday's performance left no such room for argument – it was undoubtedly the greatest of his tenure. 

    So much of the Norwegian's time at the helm has been mired by worryingly erratic form – one week they barely manage to salvage a draw against Villa, showing a concerning lack of desire, and then follow that up with a genuinely laudable performance at home to a resurgent Spurs.

    Such inconsistency has understandably led to questions over Solskjaer's game-management, with United frequently struggling against opposition that sit back despite boasting a solid record of only two defeats in 11 meetings with 'big-six' opponents and Leicester City before the derby.

    Solskjaer did little wrong on Saturday, however.

    A devastating first half an hour showed just how good this United team can be, particularly going forward.

    The fluid front three of Daniel James, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial was electric, while the much-maligned Jesse Lingard showed the kind of technique and drive not seen from him for a long, long time.

    United's strengths are by no means a secret – they are blessed with immense pace in attack and are at their best hitting teams on the counter.

    City fell into a trap entirely of United's making.

    The midfield pair of Scott McTominay and Fred sat extremely deep, while the front four also dropped well back, essentially becoming a second midfield. As such, the gap between United's defence and attack was often minimal, allowing them to break as a unit.

    The dynamism and agility of United's attack was plain to see for both goals – firstly Rashford driving into the box and winning the penalty that he converted, before James and Martial linked for the Frenchman's well-worked goal.

    But United's effectiveness was about more than just three players running really, really fast. Defensively they had several players who were imperious.

    Aaron Wan-Bissaka dealt with Raheem Sterling impressively, making five tackles and seven clearances in a fine display, while McTominay was similarly impressive. The Scotland international won possession back via three tackles, three interceptions and came out on top in 81.3 per cent of the 16 duels he was involved in.

    Added to that, Fred enjoyed his best match for United, creating two chances and showing a general awareness that could rarely be associated with the Brazilian previously. On this evidence, you can begin to understand why Pep Guardiola had been so keen to bring him to City.

    City's second-half desperation predictably saw United come under pressure and, for a moment it looked like the Red Devils would yet again cave and throw away a lead after Nicolas Otamendi pulled one back.

    But it wasn't to be.

    While reservations over Solskjaer's suitability for the role will remain as long as his team continue to falter against teams they should beat, there's no doubt in his ability to squeeze every last drop out of his players in the big games.

    And in the biggest of matches, United rose to the occasion to leave City 14 points adrift of the summit, their title hopes torn to shreds like so much festive wrapping paper. 

  • Liverpool show strength in depth at start of gruelling December schedule Liverpool show strength in depth at start of gruelling December schedule

    December: The month Liverpool's Premier League title bid is supposed to come off the tracks.

    Yet here we are, seven advent calendar chocolates down, numerous Christmas parties already in the books, and Jurgen Klopp's Reds keep adding to their own Carry On series: Carry On Winning.

    The 5-2 victory over Everton on Wednesday was their first of nine games in 26 days across the final month of the year. A festive schedule so packed it might rival the Radio Times' bumper Christmas edition.

    How would a squad perceived to be weaker than rivals Manchester City's group cope with such a haul? One that includes two games in as many days, in countries 3,000 miles apart.

    The early indications are they will be just fine.

    Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri came in and scored three of Liverpool's five goals against Everton. Neither kept their place on Saturday as Klopp rolled the dice again by making seven changes.

    Three of those who came in - Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Mohamed Salah - scored the goals in a 3-0 success over the Cherries, who have now lost their past five Premier League games against Liverpool by an aggregate score of 17-0.

    Oxlade-Chamberlain, on target in the Premier League for the first time since January 2018, and Keita became the 15th and 16th outfield players to score for the Reds in the division this term. Liverpool have used just 19, including teenager Curtis Jones, who came on for his Premier League debut 14 minutes from time.

    There was a time when Klopp would not have felt as comfortable making such wholesale changes.

    Players like Dominic Solanke, who failed to impress for Bournemouth on Saturday, were simply not able to replicate the performances of the men ahead of them in the pecking order when they came in. It was why sustained title challenges never materialised. Now - with Liverpool ending the day 11 points clear - it feels different.

    Even without the injured Joel Matip and Fabinho, with Trent Alexander-Arnold, top scorer Sadio Mane and Origi only in reserve to begin with, with Dejan Lovren coming off with a problem, Liverpool did not miss a beat.

    The most impressive performer was Salah, which has not always been the case in 2019-20.

    The Egyptian had scored just once since the end of October but appeared refreshed and revitalised having had Wednesday night off.

    It was his delicious backheel assist that took out three Bournemouth players and teed up Keita for the second, with the roles then reversed for a game-sealing third after the break.

    Of course, sterner tests than out-of-sorts Everton and Bournemouth lie in wait, including a crucial Champions League encounter with Salzburg on Tuesday and a top-of-the-table tussle at Leicester City on Boxing Day.

    Yet this is a Liverpool side boasting greater strength in depth, one equipped for a flurry of festive fixtures across four competitions.

    Surely only the grinches can confidently predict December will be Liverpool's undoing this time around?

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.