It’s Novak Djokovic’s ninth grand slam
Novak Djokovic claimed his third Wimbledon title with a clinical 7-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 win, ensuring that there would be no fairytale triumph for Roger Federer.
Federer, 33, did not relent like a player past his prime. With the Wimbledon crowd behind him, and a chance at history ahead, Federer fought like the Federer of old, instead of the old Federer. But in the end, the more precise play and more fiery demeanor of Djokovic overcame the crowd and the people's champ.
In the first set, Federer looked poised, several times, to take it. After breaking Djokovic's serve, he led 4-2 before taking a 6-5 advantage. Djokovic survived two set points, forcing a tiebreaker. And the set's tenor shifted. Federer hit 11 unforced errors, as many as he hit in the entirety of his semifinal match against Andy Murray. Djokovic made quick work of Federer in the tiebreaker, taking it 7-1 and seemingly taking control as the second set started.
But the second set, too, went to a tiebreaker. Neither competitor broke serve on the way to another 6-6 score. Ultimately, Federer would survive seven set points before taking the marathon tiebreaker 12-10 and stealing the set. The Wimbledon crowd erupted. Federer didn't play clean, with 12 unforced errors in the set, but his presence at the net (where he converted 15 of 19 approaches) allowed him to volley his way to victory.
Rain interrupted the third set as Djokovic led 3-2. The roof remained open. And Djokovic remained in control, ultimately winning the set 6-4.
Suddenly, the scene looked familiar. In 2014, Djokovic had a chance at the championship in the fourth set, only to see Federer save the match point before forcing a fifth set and a near-four hour endeavor.
Federer wanted to force another fifth, another epic showdown. He led the fourth set 2-1 after a beautiful backhand. But Djokovic pushed back, breaking Federer's serve in the fifth game to once again take a 3-2 advantage. Djokovic pressed to a fast 40-0 advantage in the next game. Federer fought back to 40-30, but ultimately, Djokovic ended the game on a high-speed ace that rode the center line, going up 4-2.
Federer started to look flat, double-faulting his way to another Djokovic break point before fighting back to 40-40 and a duel of deuces. Federer ultimately came out ahead on a strong serve to the right side and a swift forehand to the left. He trailed 4-3 in the fourth set. With Djokovic serving, Federer jumped out to a 30-love advantage before two aces from his foe evened the game.
It felt like a turning point. Djokovic came back to win the game, gaining a 5-3 advantage as he pumped his arms and called into the crowd mostly rooting against him. Djokovic embraced it. If the crowd wasn't, the game was going his way. And he never looked back.
Djokovic's euphoric celebration seemed to expel the heartbreak and frustration from the French Open, when he lost his chance at a career grand slam in a stunning loss against Stan Wawrinka. But away from the clay, Djokovic returned to form on Sunday, outlasting Federer, his powerful serves and strong net game to prevail and prove himself worthy of world No. 1 status.
Wimbledon gives Djokovic his ninth grand slam title, moving him into a standalone eighth place among men all time. With three Wimbledon titles, Djokovic joins coach Boris Becker and American tennis legend John McEnroe. He trails the man he vanquished, Federer, by four Wimbledon championships.
But in this moment, in this Wimbledon, he stands atop the game. Federer's quest to stand alone as Wimbledon's best waits for another day. He remains tied with Pete Sampras at seven titles in London. And he does so as a repeat champion takes the torch.
And refuses to relinquish it, Wimbledon crowd, Wimbledon history, be damned.