They have dished up some classics over the years, but Mats Wilander warns that the latest Novak Djokovic-Roger Federer installment is unlikely to live up to the billing.
The last time Djokovic and Federer met in a Grand Slam, they produced one of the all-time great matches in the 2019 Wimbledon final as the Serb won a titanic five-setter in nearly five hours.
They will meet again on Thursday, this time in the Australian Open semi-final, with Djokovic booking his ticket with a three-set win over Milos Raonic while Federer had a more testing time on court as he saved seven match points to beat Tennys Sandgren.
Federer also struggled with a groin injury against Sandgren with his movement visibly restricted midway through the match, but by the end of the encounter he had started to move a bit more freely.
Seven-time Grand Slam winner Wilander warns Federer’s movement should be a big concern for the Swiss ahead of the Djokovic clash.
“I’m sure we’re going to hear him say that at some point so I think that it’s not a problem. But he has to move better, he has to be more alert and quicker around the court to have a chance against Novak Djokovic,” the Swede told Eurosport.
“Obviously confidence is high in terms of winning but in terms of hitting the ball a little shaky at times.
“We are all excited because of what happened last year in the Wimbledon finals and then Roger winning in London. Then you look at what has happened in this tournament and we perhaps fear the worst because one could win easily.
“Novak has been winning easily, Roger isn’t obviously playing as well but winning, and now he could be injured.”
Djokovic has dropped only one set so far in the tournament, in his first-round win over Jan-Lennard Struff, while Federer has played two five-setters and one four-setter.
Former world No 1 Wilander says we should still see a good “battle” between the two, but it is unlikely to be a classic.
“It’s not that I care who wins, I just want to see a great match between two of the greatest players of all time when all is said and done,” he said.
“I fear right now it’s not going to happen. It’ll still be a battle because Federer will try something different depending on how he feels.
“It’s amazing Novak can go through unthreatened, while Roger is not playing well but fights so hard to get through and they both find themselves in the semi-finals again.
“If you told me that was the scenario before the tournament begun, I would have said well it’s happened in the past, but surely it’s not going to happen one more time? ‘But here we are again!”
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