LONDON – After four hours and 55 minutes, Novak Djokovic won the tiebreaker in the fifth set in the longest singles final of Wimbledon to beat Roger Federer in a match of all ages.
The fifth set lasted just under two hours, but it was Djokovic who overtook Federer in an epic 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 6-5, 13-12 (3) win: the first fifth of Wimbledon – tiebreaker set under new rules introduced this year.
Djokovic saved two points in the championship in the final set, and his endurance and ability to hit the tiebreakers in his favor made him win his fifth singles title at Wimbledon. This is how he did it:
Federer is tightened in the tiebrakes.
Novak Djokovic wins the third set to take a 2-1 lead over Roger Federer.
Take a look at the statistics and you would think that Federer had this match in the bag. He had a better percentage of first service, more points of first and second service won, a better performance record and more points of break won. Everything was in Federer's favor, including 40 more winners than Djokovic, while he converted seven of the 13 rest opportunities.
"I do not know if losing 2-2-2 feels better than this," Federer said after the game. "In the end, it does not really matter to a certain extent, you may feel more disappointed, sad, angry, I do not know what I feel right now, I feel like it's such an incredible opportunity that I've lost, I can not believe it."
However, considering all this, there was a statistic in which Djokovic had the advantage: unforced errors, since Federer hit nine more than Djokovic. And here lies the history of the game. Djokovic did not have his first interruption of service until the fourth set, but he had already raised two sets to one at that stage.
"It was probably the most demanding and mentally demanding match of which I was a part," Djokovic said after the game. "I had the most physically demanding match against Nadal in the Australian finals [in 2012] that lasted almost six hours, but mentally, this was a different level, because of everything. "
Djokovic managed to find the mental advantage in the tiebreakers, concentrating on each of them to defend against Federer. Federer made eight uncharacteristic errors in the two playoffs in the first and third set and, for the fifth, Djokovic answered everything Federer threw him. The pair has now played four five-set matches in Grand Slams and Djokovic has won all four.
Djokovic adheres to the plan
Federer tried to mix things against Djokovic. He spoke before the game about how he knew Djokovic's game the other way around: he pointed Djokovic's backhand with cut shots, keeping them low while also nullifying the threat of Djokovic's right-wing rocket. Federer also knew that if the game went down to the rally, most of the time, the relentless Djokovic would come through. So he tried to force the pace, using more service flips than we've seen and, in general, driving the pace of the game. Federer charged the net 27 times more than Djokovic and won 15 percent more points.
Likewise, in his service, Federer caused Djokovic all kinds of difficulty by using his brilliant neutral ball toss to disguise where his service was going. Djokovic had problems throughout the game to read it, with Federer accumulating 25 aces at 10 from Djokovic. However, in the playoffs, Djokovic stood up, bet from time to time and caused Federer to make uncharacteristic mistakes.
Roger Federer, Wimbledon runner-up, looks back on his chances of winning the match and compares the 2019 final with his 2008 loss to Rafael Nadal.
In the end, it was Djokovic's turn to convert the key points when they mattered most, like those two championship points he saved when he fell 7-8 in the fifth.
"I was still happy to be in 8-all, 9-all, I do not remember what it was [after not converting on the two match points]"Federer said." You try to see the positive aspects, you try to take it as something good, I suppose, that you are not on a break or that the game is not over yet. If I could have chosen it before the game to be at 9, everything in the fifth place would not be terrible. You always try to make an effort to see things on the better side. "
Gastón Gaudio, from Argentina, was the last player to recover from two points to win in a Grand Slam final, which stopped Guillermo Coria in five sets in the final of the French Open in 2004. Only two other players did the same in A final of Wimbledon:
1927: Henri Cochet (def Jean Borotra in the final)
1948: Bob Falkenburg (def John Bromwich in the final)
1949: Ted Schroeder (by Frank Sedgman in QF)
1960: Neale Fraser (Def. Butch Buchholz in QF)
During the mini-breaks in the decisive tiebreaker, Djokovic reversed the trend and converted more points in his first serve than Federer to secure the title.
"I was a shot away from losing the game," said Djokovic. "This game had it all, it could have been easy, he was doing very well throughout the game, I had a lot of difficulty reading his service, it was a kind of flashback to the US Open when I saved the two match points. [2010 and 2011 US Open semifinals].
"In this kind of moments, I just try to never lose confidence in myself, I just keep calm, I just concentrate on recovering the ball, the return, which did not go very well for me today."
Survival of the fittest
Novak Djokovic considers the Wimbledon 2019 men's final to be "one of the most exciting matches he has ever taken part in", after his five-set victory over Roger Federer.
Federer turns 38 in just over three weeks and would have become the oldest winner of a Grand Slam title if he had adhered to the fifth set. Djokovic is already 32 years old, but he could also be present for some time. He even paid tribute to Federer's longevity in his post-match speech, and called his opponent an inspiration.
"I'm not really considering age as a restriction of any kind, at least for me," Djokovic said. "What I said on the court, I really meant it: Roger really inspires me with his effort at his age … It depends not only on me, but also on the circumstances of life, I'm not just a tennis player, I'm father and husband, you have to balance things. "
Neither seems to be slowing down. In the fifth set, both covered more ground per point than at any other time in the match (Djokovic recorded 12.5 meters per point at 12.2 for Federer). Given that neither of them has a chance of breaking to 6-5 in the final set, Djokovic even had to consult with the referee when exactly a tiebreaker would take effect.
Far from being a sign of loss of focus, Djokovic remained in the area throughout the process. He saved two championship points in a dramatic style and simply refused to budge before beating Federer in the decisive tiebreaker. His fifth Wimbledon title does not seem to be the last.