Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic combined for one of the greatest men’s finals in Wimbledon history in a 4 hour, 55 minute marathon that left both players spent following the first final set tiebreak in tournament history.
With his 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 13-12 (7-3) victory, Djokovic claimed his fifth Wimbledon championship and the 16th major title of his career to pull within two of Rafael Nadal’s total and four of Federer’s all-time mark, which for now is paused at 20.
A first set tiebreak served as an early warning that Djokovic and Federer were going to be locked in a close match on a Sunny afternoon. The match earned its legendary billing entering the fifth set with both sides locked at two sets a piece.
It was Wimbledon’s first singles championship settled under the tournament’s new tiebreak format, which was instituted this year and kicks in if the fifth set is knotted at 12 games each. The format was instituted to prevent soul-sapping marathons such as the three-day affair between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut in 2010, which dragged on until 70-68 in the fifth set, and last year’s semifinal between Isner and Kevin Anderson, which lasted to 26-24.
The crowd was decidedly behind Federer, swelling on every point and review — trying to will the 37-year-old to a win.
When Federer had two championship points at 8-7, Djokovic held his nerve to save both and then break back, eventually taking it to the new tie-break at 12-12.
The incredible fifth set lasted more than two hours – you could have fitted in two of Saturday’s women’s singles finals in the time of that set alone.
The Swiss had been seeking to become the oldest Grand Slam champion of the Open era but instead found himself part of a different record as the match time surpassed Wimbledon’s longest final – the four hours 48 minutes of play in 2008 as he lost to Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic called it the most mentally demanding match he had ever been part of and credited the victory, which he acknowledged easily could have been Federer’s, to will power and the mental and emotional aspects of his game that he has worked so hard to strengthen.
Novak Djokovic, the world number one has won 16 Grand Slams – and four of the last five.
This was truly one of the greatest matches in Wimbledon history, and a final that will be remembered forever.