If familiarity breeds contempt, then Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic should despise each other.
That certainly is not the case, even though, when they take Centre Court at Wimbledon on Sunday for the men's singles final, it will mark the 35th time they have faced off in eight years.
That's a lot of forehands and first serves.
Federer says, "I must say, I've enjoyed the matches against him. Ever since he's won Grand Slams and become world No. 1, it's been a cool rivalry."
Djokovic says, "I respect Roger and everything he has achieved in his career. To come back and play the finals of Wimbledon again, it's incredible what he's doing. But again, when we come to the court, that ends. I'm here to win against whoever is across the net."
The tale of the tape with these two is a testimonial to two tennis legends.
Federer is 32 and has won 17 Grand Slam singles titles, a record. Of those 17, seven are at Wimbledon and an eighth would be also be record.
Djokovic is 27 and has won six Grand Slam singles titles. He has won just once at Wimbledon, beating Rafael Nadal in the 2011 final.
Federer hasn't won a major since his last Wimbledon title, in 2012. Djokovic, since he captured the 2012 Australian, has won one of six Grand Slam finals, the 2013 Australian.
So despite the prominence and longevity of each player, this final is a real chance for a return to the top of the heap again, despite rankings. Tennis has been dominated, in perception if not necessarily in statistical reality, by Nadal and Andy Murray, the other pair of the sport's Big Four. Nadal won an incredible ninth French Open this year, and Murray continues to bask in the glory of winning both the Olympic 2012 gold medal and last year's championship at Wimbledon.
Federer holds an 18-16 career edge against Djokovic.
The first time they played was at Monte Carlo in 2006. Djokovic was 19. It was in the round of 64, and since then 30 of their matches have been in either the semifinals or finals.
Federer leads in Grand Slam matchups with Djokovic, six to five. Three of those 11 matches have gone to five sets and three more to four sets. In those matches, they have played eight tiebreaker sets and 11 more that were settled at 7-5.
In other words, there isn't a lot that separates these two.
Federer won the first seven Grand Slam finals he played and 17 of 24. Djokovic has won six of 13.
The pre-match posturing began right after the semifinals, when Federer beat Milos Raonic and Djokovic defeated Grigor Dimitrov.
With Djokovic, "there's not really a safe place you can play into," Federer said. "…Novak can hurt you down the line or cross court on both sides. He's really improved now through the years."
Djokovic said, "His level [in this Wimbledon] has been very high, I have to say."
Nadal is ranked No. 1. If Djokovic wins, he will be back on top. With Federer, no matter what happens in the final, he will replace Stan Wawrinka at No. 3.
The match is scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. Pacific time.
Bryan twins lose
The Bryan twins, Bob and Mike from Camarillo, fell just short in their attempt to successfully defend their Wimbledon doubles title Saturday. They lost a 3-hour 6-minute final on Centre Court to the first-time team of Vasek Pospisil of Canada and Jack Sock of the United States.
In a match that kept much of the crowd around after the women's singles and doubles finals, Pospisil and Sock took a 7-6 (5), 6-7 (3), 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 thriller, when Sock crashed a forehand on match point that stayed in.
The Bryans, 36, have won 15 Grand Slam doubles titles together.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times