Novak Djokovic has successfully defended his crown as he outlasted the seven time champion Roger Federer 7-6(1),6-7(10),6-4,6-3 in a match lasting 2 hours and 56 minutes on center court at Wimbledon. It was his third title in five years and sixth title in 2015. The 28 year old played with precision against the stylish 33 year old who was bidding to become the oldest player in history of the game to win Wimbledon and also steer clear of Pete Sampras’ tally of seven titles on the hallowed grass court.
In what was a repeat of last years final which Djokovic won in five sets, the duo played some electrifying tennis in the first two sets that enthralled the center court crowd and indeed it looked like it would go the distance as the Swiss maestro saved seven set points in a nail biting second set tie-break which he claimed 12-10. Federer broke serve at love to take a 4-2 lead in the first set but the top seed responded with a break back rightaway thanks largely to a couple of errors from the second seed. Djokovic then erased two set points on serve at 5-6 with blistering serves and then played a perfect tie-break which he clinched 7-1 when Federer double faulted.
Games then went with serve in the second set and Federer saved a set point at 4-5 and looked down for the count as he trailed 3-6 in the tie-break. Then in a dramatic turn of events Federer saved seven set points that sent the crowd into raptures. In the opening game of the third set Federer saved two break points and failed to convert one of his own in the next game and then squandered a 40-15 lead to trail 1-2. Despite a rain delay two games later the Serb took control of the match serving out the third at 6-4.
He then went into top gear and broke serve twice in fourth set to clinch the set 6-3 and with it the most prized possession in tennis. Despite leading 14-13 in aces count and 58-46 in winners, Federer had 35 unforced errors and 3 crucial double faults which proved decisive. Its been a memorable year for Djokovic where he has clinched a fifth Australian crown and in his 17th final clinched his 9th grand slam title. Federer playing his 26th final fell to a 17-9 mark and the pair are now tied at 20 apiece in their career head to head.
This victory should help Djokovic recover from one of his biggest setbacks in his career – his loss to Stan Wawrinka in the finals of the French Open which denied Djokovic an entry into the Career Grand Slam club. Djokovic had come to Wimbledon with questions about how well he has recovered from his heart breaking loss in Paris and for the second year in a row, Djokovic found his path to the winners’ circle in London – which is possibly the best way to recover from the huge disappointment in Paris.
With 2 Majors and 4 Masters 1000 under his belt, Djokovic has had one of the most dominant starts to a tennis season on the ATP – if not THE most dominant. He will be hoping to continue this rich vein of form into the last quarter of the year and avoid the let down he had in 2011 when his form tapered towards the end of the year. One thing is for certain – Djokovic will be heading into the last lap of the tennis season with much more energy than he had entering the great lawns of Wimbledon. The rest of the ATP? Maybe not as much as Djokovic.
Where to for Mr.Federer – who had the tennis world purring with his majestic performance in the semifinals? He was able to make a good number of fans and tennis experts believe in another Grand Slam title with that master piece of a show, however he could not get over the last hurdle in that journey for a second year in row. Wimbledon has always been the centerpiece of Federer’s tennis season, but the North American summer hard courts and the indoor season have not been too shabby a hunting ground for Federer.
It would take a miraculous run from any other player in the ATP to dethrone Djokovic from the No.1 ranking this year and the rest of the season appears most likely to be a tale of two chases. Djokovic chasing the big trophies and history and the rest of the ATP chasing Djokovic. The race to the No.1 ranking is more or less decided, but a good run in this last lap could set other players up for an assault on the No.1 ranking early next year.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy.You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]