The world’s top-ranked tennis player has defended his crown at the sport’s most famous tournament. Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in the men’s singles championship at Wimbledon on Sunday (7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 4-6, 13-12) to earn his fifth title at the British club.
In the first year of the newly implemented rule, Federer and Djokovic reached the fifth set tiebreaker for the first time in a Wimbledon final with Djokovic winning 7-3.
“This has always been the tournament for me.” Djokovic said on the court after being awarded the trophy. “I used to make the trophies out of different materials in my room just imaging that I would be standing here.”
At times it felt like the No. 1 player in tennis had two opponents: Federer and the crowd — as the attendees at center court heavily cheered for the Swiss star who has claimed eight singles titles on the hallowed grass.
Yet Djokovic simply couldn’t be broken, pulling out the victory despite being outscored (218-204), out-aced (26-10) and severely behind on break points (7-3). None of it slowed down the reigning Wimbledon champion. He fought back from underwhelming showings in second and fourth sets while winning all three tiebreakers.
It’s the second time in his career the Serbian has earned back-to-back championships at Wimbledon after accomplishing the feat in 2014-15. Djokovic defeated Federer in both of those championship matches as well. On multiple occasions in the fifth set, Djokovic had his serve broken by Federer only to keep the match alive in the following game. No moment was bigger than in the fifth set’s 16th game when Djokovic broke Federer’s serve and staved off two consecutive championship points.
The four-hour, 55-minute match set the record for the longest in final in tournament history and was the first on the men’s side to reach a fifth set since Djokovic’s 2014 victory over Federer. The 32-year-old is now 26–22 (10–6 in Grand Slams) against Federer.
“I hope I give some people a chance to believe that at 37 it’s not over yet,” Federer said after falling just shy of his ninth Wimbledon title. “I gave it all I had and I still feel alright.”
To reach the final, Federer had to fight past the No. 7 ranked Kei Nishikori as well as No. 2 Rafael Nadal while Djokovic cruised past David Goffin and Roberto Bautista to set up a rematch of 2015’s championship match.
Djokovic leaves London with his 16th career Grand Slam title and his second this year after a victory at the Australian Open. He’ll look to defend his U.S. Open title next in August when the 2018 champion returns to New York.
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