What a performance by Novak Djokovic. After ripping through the Wimbledon draw, no one had looked better than Roger Federer who blew out Andy Murray on Friday. But then the 7-time champion ran into the world No. 1, and Djokovic played like his ranking beating Federer 7-6(1), 6-7(10), 6-4, 6-2 to collect this Boris Becker-tying third Wimbledon title and a 9th Grand Slam overall.
The two played a tight first set, trading breaks with Roger grabbing an early 4-2 lead before Novak broke right back. It wasn’t memorable tennis per se, but what we saw was what we thought we would. A few long rallies with Federer always looking to attack.
Djokovic was just stronger on the return of serve. He got up early in the breaker and sailed away with it 7-1.
In the second set, I felt the play picked up as Fed began serving better, hitting more aces. Federer saved a set point at 4-5. Then Djokovic saved breakpoints serving at 5-5. The two fought to the breaker which turned out to be one of the better ones we’ve seen in quite a while.
Behind some incredible tennis, Federer saved six set points to somehow steal the set with a 12-10 win.
But Djokovic didn’t sulk. He broke Federer in the third game to lead 3-2 before a brief rain delay. With the roof still open, the two returned to the court but Federer had lost the edge as Djokovic’s relentless pressure did in the Swiss. And it was over. Djokovic defends his Wimbledon title.
In the end, Djokovic showed why he is No. 1. He’s simply the best player in the planet. The surface doesn’t matter because even today, aside from the slips and falls we saw from him, Djokovic played like he was on a clay or a hardcourt. And he’ll win a lot more Slams as long as he can stay healthy and stay motivated.
Yes, he can have a blip where Stan Wawrinka can get him or even Roger, but Roger came in hot and on his favorite surface and just couldn’t keep up with the Serb.
“It’s a great privilege to play against Roger, who is a great champion,” Djokovic told the BBC. “He has done so much for our sport on and off the court. It’s a great honour to play him again. I was aware coming onto the court, that Roger would play his best when it matters the most. He pushes you to limits.”
For Federer, he had a fantastic run at Wimbledon, beating Andy Murray. But at 33, it’s just becoming that much tougher for him to beat his Big 4 mates in a best-of-5 situation.
“Novak not only played great today, but also this year, last year and the year before that,” Federer said. “Well done, Novak, you deserved it. At the end he was rock solid. I didn’t play bad myself, so I can be very happy. That’s the way it goes. Once more, it has been a privilege to play here.”
The 28-year-old Djokovic will now be the big favorite heading into the hardcourt season and as we go into the fall. And the way Novak’s playing, with the confidence despite his French Open loss, he’s not going to be slowing down.
In men’s tennis, he’s the best. There’s no one close.
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