Djokovic emerges triumphant in a classic tussle; the Serb wins his second Wimbledon title, overcoming a spectacular resurgence by Federer
Two great players nudged each other to even greater heights to produce a Wimbledon final that will go down as one of the finest in its history. One of them, Novak Djokovic, would eventually lift the trophy having beaten his opponent Roger Federer in five close sets 6-7(7), 6-4, 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-4.
But the scoreline and the victory seemed to pale before the tennis itself, which was the real winner as these two champions outplayed themselves. This was a match that was undeserving of being assessed by the twists and turns and the thrills and spills, even if there was enough of that edge-of-the-seat suspense which left the audience gasping.
The first set went along customary lines with both players dominating on serve. While the Djokovic service game seemed impregnable, Federer stayed on course to level at 6-6.
The latter would go up quickly to 3-0, only to find Djokovic clawing back and having two set points, one of which Federer saved with an imperious ace. Eventually, Federer closed out the tie-breaker 9-7 to the delight of the crowd that was firmly behind the Swiss. By now, there were some patterns emerging that would influence the course of the match. It was clear, for instance, that Federer had chosen to attack from the net through a combination of serve and volley, and chip and charge. The former tactic worked well, but although the latter paid off on one critical point in the fourth set, for the most part it failed to work in unsettling Djokovic while serving. Federer is also not the best judge about when to approach the net during a baseline rally and Djokovic was able to repeatedly pass him.
Although he pulled himself out of trouble time and again with big serves, raining 29 aces against Djokovic’s 13, his second serve was vulnerable.
Federer was able to win a mere 44 per cent of his second serves, the main reason he found himself having to dig deep to get out of trouble.
An early break settled the issue in the second set, which Djokovic never seemed like losing, and the third headed unerringly for a tie-break with the Serb failing to convert the two break points that came his way.
In the tie-breaker, Federer, who had begun with a booming ace, handed the first mini-break to his opponent by rushing to the net following a poor shot and finding himself easily passed; he eventually lost 7-4.
It was in the fourth set that the match took on its element of drama, with Djokovic establishing a 5-2 lead and the match seeming well nigh over.
Serving for the championship, Djokovic fluffed an easy shot to the open court after wrong-footing Federer.
From there it was downhill all the way as a resurgent and doubly aggressive Federer clawed his way back to take the next five games after staving off four breathtaking break points to win 7-5.
Ordinarily, Djokovic, who has beaten Federer in their two previous five-set outings, would have been the favourite at the beginning of the fifth set, but there was a sense that the momentum had shifted.
Federer seemed calm and much lighter on his feet and Djokovic, who needed a medical timeout, seemed a little flustered at having to work so hard to put out his opponent.
But the Serb recouped wonderfully by the end of the fifth, discovering the fire and energy within just when he needed it to get ahead 5-4 and attack the Federer second serve to win his second championship and with it, regained his place as the World No 1.