Sunday, July 14, 2019

2019 WIMBLEDON: Djokovic Outlasts Federer in 5-hour, 5-set Thriller to Win 16th Major

In one of the most exciting matches since the classic 2008 Wimbledon final, Novak Djokovic outlasted 8-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer 7-6(5), 1-6, 7-6(4), 4-6, 13-12(3) in a match which lasted nearly five hours ad featured the very first ever 5th set deciding tiebreaker (at 12-all). For the 3rd time in a major grand slam match (following the 2010 US Open semifinal and 2011 US Open semifinal) Djokovic saved double match point and went on to win. Federer broke Djokovic at 8-all and was serving 9-8, 40-15 but was unable to win either of the points thanks to Djokovic's excellent serving (and Federer's own nervousness). This was particularly curious because the Swiss great had an amazing serving day with 25 aces (including one at 30-15 in that all important 18th game of the 5th set). Even though my prediction that Federer would win did not pan out, I feel good that my belief that Federer would confound critics (who gave Djokovic the edge) was very nearly correct.

In fact, in most aspects Federer was the better player for most of the match. He broke Djokovic twice in both of the sets he won while his serve was only broken three times: up 5-2 in the fourth set, early in the fifth set and up 9-8 in the fifth set (but two of those times were when he was serving to close out the set). Federer had 40 more winners (94 to 54) and only 10 more errors (62 to 52) than Djokovic. Often times Federer has difficukty converting breakpoint chances in big matches, but he won 7 out of 13 while Djokovic only won 3 of 8. The big problem was the 3 tioebreaks they played where every point is essentially a breakpoint. There Federer played his riskiest tennis and it generally did not pay off. That basically was the match. The third set tiebreak Federer was up 5-3 when he made some uncharacteristic forehand errors and ended up losing four points in a row and the pivotal 3rd set.

Significance of Today's Result
With his win, Djokovic improves to 26-22 over Federer head-to-head and is now only 2 majors behind Nadal's 18  who is only 2 behind Federer's 20. He has now beaten the best grass-court player of all time in three  Wimbledon finals (2014, 2015 and 2019). Federer's major final record falls to 20-11 while Djokovic's record improves to 16-9. Federer has now played 12 Wimbledon finals and won 8.

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