Wimbledon 2019: Novak Djokovic has never felt more drained after dramatic final with Roger Federer

Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in an epic final
Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in an epic final

Novak Djokovic described his epic Wimbledon final victory over Roger Federer as the most mentally demanding match of his career.

The defending champion saved two match points in the fifth set before winning the first deciding tie-break played in singles at the All England Club for a 7-6 (5) 1-6 7-6 (4) 4-6 13-12 (3) victory after four hours and 57 minutes.

It was the longest men's singles final in Wimbledon history and brought Djokovic a fifth title, equalling Bjorn Borg and now just three behind Federer.

The Serbian is closing in on Federer's all-time grand-slam record, too, with his 16th title leaving him four off the Swiss and only two adrift of Rafael Nadal.

"It was a huge relief in the end, honestly," said Djokovic, who once again proved himself the master at winning the points that matter.

"These kind of matches, you work for, you live for, they give sense and they give value to every minute you spend on the court training and working to get yourself in this position and play the match with one of your greatest rivals of all time.

"It was probably the mentally most demanding match I was ever part of. I had the most physically demanding match against Nadal in the finals of Australia that went almost six hours. But mentally this was a different level, because of everything.

"I'm just obviously thrilled and overjoyed with emotions to be sitting here in front of you as a winner. It was one shot away from losing the match. This match had everything. It could have gone easily his way.

"In these kind of moments, I just try to never lose self-belief, just stay calm, just focus on trying to get the ball back, return, which wasn't serving me very well today. But, in the most important moments, all three tie-breaks I guess, I found my best game."

It was an extraordinary contest. The sustained quality was not the same as Federer's final loss to Rafael Nadal in 2008, which this match passed as the longest title decider, but it had more plot twists than a feature-length thriller.

Federer, who won 15 more points in the match, was the better player for all of the first four sets, with Djokovic's game strangely off colour apart from his serve, but played two poor tie-breaks either side of a set that his opponent barely turned up for.

Djokovic's level dropped again in the fourth and, when it looked like he was finally taking control early in the fifth with a break of serve to lead 4-2, he was promptly broken back.

Federer seemed to be under more pressure but it was he who broke to lead 8-7 and at 40-15 he held two match points.

The crowd, who had been chanting Federer's name throughout, thought this was the moment but the 37-year-old netted a forehand and then was passed at the net as Djokovic broke back.

Federer had two more chances to break at 11-11 but again could not take them and his nemesis on the day, the tie-break, came back to haunt him once again.

The deciding tie-break was introduced following last year's long semi-final between Kevin Anderson and John Isner and had not been needed at all during the singles tournament until this match.

Djokovic got irked by the crowd's support for opponent Roberto Bautista Agut in the semi-finals but here remained pointedly calm, the only flash of anger coming when he swiped at a chair with his racket late in the fifth set.

"When the crowd is chanting 'Roger' I hear 'Novak'," he said. "It sounds silly, but it is like that. I try to convince myself."

After beating his other great rival Nadal in the semi-finals, this was agonisingly close to the perfect tournament for Federer, who turns 38 next month and may never get a better chance to win a 21st slam title.

It was his third final defeat here by Djokovic in six years after losses in 2014 and 2015, while the match brought flashbacks of two semi-finals between the pair at the US Open, the Serbian saving two match points on each occasion.

Federer was left kicking himself at the chances he could not take, saying: "I don't know what I feel right now. I just feel like it's such an incredible opportunity missed. I can't believe it."

He held himself together admirably at the end and, although clearly stung, he insisted he would not dwell on it for too long.

He said: "Similar to getting broken when serving for the match: take it on your chin, you move on. You try to forget, try to take the good things out of this match. There's just tons of it.

"Similar to '08 maybe, I will look back at it and think, 'Well, it's not that bad after all'. For now it hurts, and it should, like every loss does here at Wimbledon.

"I think it's a mindset. I'm very strong at being able to move on because I don't want to be depressed about actually an amazing tennis match."

Grand Slam finals breakdown

Australian Open

  • Djokovic's seven titles: 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019
    Runner-Up: N/A
  • Federer's six titles: 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, 2018
    Runner-Up: 2009

French Open

  • Djokovic's one title: 2016
    Runner-Up: 2012, 2014, 2015
  • Federer's one title: 2009
    Runner-Up: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011

Wimbledon

  • Djokovic's five titles: 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019
    Runner-Up: 2013
  • Federer's eight titles: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2017
    Runner-Up: 2008, 2014, 2015, 2019

US Open

  • Djokovic's three titles: 2011, 2015, 2018
    Runner-Up: 2017, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2016
  • Federer's five titles: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
    Runner-Up: 2009, 2015

Head-to-head record (Djokovic first)

Scroll down to bottom of the article for full list of career meetings

  • Overall: 26-22
  • In 2019: 1-0
  • In Grand Slams: 10-6
  • At Wimbledon: 3-1
  • All finals: 13-6
  • Grand Slam finals: 4-1
  • On hardcourts: 19-17
  • On grass: 2-1
  • On clay: 4-4
  • Total Sets: 70-71
  • Total Games: 721 - 730

Djokovic v Federer: Routes to the final

  • Round One
    Djokovic bt Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 7-5 6-3 (Report)
    Federer bt Lloyd Harris 6-3 1-6 6-2 6-2 (Report)
  • Round Two
    Djokovic bt Denis Kudla 6-3 6-2 6-2 (Report)
    Federer bt Jay Clarke 6-1 7-6 (7/3) 6-2 (Report)
  • Round Three
    Djokovic bt Hubert Hurkacz 7-5 6-7 (5/7) 6-1 6-4 (Report)
    Federer bt Lucas Pouille 7-5 6-2 7-6 (7/4) (Report)
  • Last 16
    Djokovic bt Ugo Humbert 6-3 6-2 6-3 (Report)
    Federer bt Matteo Berrettini 6-1 6-2 6-2 (Report)
  • Quarter-Finals
    Djokovic bt David Goffin 6-4 6-0 6-2 (Report)
    Federer bt Kei Nishikori 4-6 6-1 6-4 6-4 (Report)
  • Semi-Finals
    Djokovic bt Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2 4-6 6-3 6-2 (Report)
    Federer bt Rafael Nadal 7-6 (3) 1-6 6-3 6-4 (Report)

Wimbledon Finals: Five Other Classics

1980 - Bjorn Borg beat John McEnroe 1-6 7-5 6-3 6-7 (16) 8-6

With Borg going for his fifth successive Wimbledon crown, 21-year-old McEnroe raced into an early lead, but seemed to be out of juice when the Swede came steaming back at him claiming the next two sets with a minimum of fuss. McEnroe forced a mammoth tie-breaker in the fourth, in which the left-hander saved five match points before finally prevailing 18-16. A tiring McEnroe scrapped through set five, but Borg finally broke him in game 14 to seal a truly epic victory.

2001 - Goran Ivanisevic beat Pat Rafter 6-3 3-6 6-3 2-6 9-7

The people's final was the first to begin on the third Monday after rain had disrupted the Championships and ended as one of the great sporting fairytales as two-time runner-up Ivanisevic, handed a wild card to get in the tournament, finally won it. In front of an unusually raucous Centre Court crowd the players rose to the occasion as the Croatian claimed an epic fifth to ensure he would not be remembered as one of the sport's nearly men.

2007: Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal 7-6 (7) 4-6 7-6 (3) 2-6 6-2

Federer was made to work all the way to equal Borg's five straight titles at the All England Club against his main rival. The Swiss took the first and third sets on a tie-break, but Nadal sent it to a decider with two breaks in the fourth. Federer fended off break points in the fifth, but took his game to another level to claim his fifth crown.

2008: Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (8) 9-7

Nadal finally recorded his first Wimbledon title in a match that somehow topped even the previous year's drama. With rain delays prolonging the contest over the course of seven hours, Federer had to come back from two sets down to take it to a fifth via a pair of tie-breaks but the tables turned in Nadal's favour when he needed it the most. It took until 9-7 in the final set but a new Wimbledon champion was finally crowned after what McEnroe described as "the greatest match ever played".

2014 - Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer 6-7 (7) 6-4 7-6 (4) 5-7 6-4

Federer had looked invincible on his way to the final but found himself 2-1 down and facing Championship point at 2-5 in the fourth. Somehow the Swiss broke serve twice to win the next five games and level the match, only for Djokovic to prevail in the decider with a single break.

Djokovic v Federer: Full past results

  • 2006 Monte-Carlo Masters, Clay, Round of 64
    Federer 6–3, 2–6, 6–3
  • 2006 Davis Cup Davis Cup, Hard
    Federer 6–3, 6–2, 6–3
  • 2007 Australian Open, Hard, Round of 16
    Federer 6–2, 7–5, 6–3
  • 2007 Dubai Championships, Hars, QFs
    Federer 6–3, 6–7(6–8), 6–3
  • 2007 Canadian Open, Hard, Final
    Djokovic 7–6(7–2), 2–6, 7–6(7–2)
  • 2007 US Open, Hard, Final
    Federer 7–6(7–4), 7–6(7–2), 6–4
  • 2008 Australian Open, Hard, Semi-Final
    Djokovic 7–5, 6–3, 7–6(7–5)
  • 2008 Monte-Carlo Masters, Clay
    Semi-Final Federer 6–3, 3–2 RET
  • 2008 US Open, Hard, Semi-Final
    Federer 6–3, 5–7, 7–5, 6–2
  • 2009 Miami Open, Hard, Semi-Final
    Djokovic 3–6, 6–2, 6–3
  • 2009 Italian Open, Clay, Semi-Final
    Djokovic 4–6, 6–3, 6–3
  • 2009 Cincinnati Masters, Hard, Final
    Federer 6–1, 7–5
  • 2009 US Open, Hard, Semi-Final
    Federer 7–6(7–3), 7–5, 7–5
  • 2009 Swiss Indoors, Hard, Final
    Djokovic 6–4, 4–6, 6–2
  • 2010 Canadian Open, Hard, Semi-Final
    Federer 6–1, 3–6, 7–5
  • .2010 US Open, Hard, Semi-Final
    Djokovic 5–7, 6–1, 5–7, 6–2, 7–5
  • 2010 Shanghai Masters, Hard, Semi-Final
    Federer 7–5, 6–4
  • 2010 Swiss Indoors, Hard, Final
    Federer 6–4, 3–6, 6–1
  • 2010 ATP World Tour Final s, Hard, Semi-Final
    Federer 6–1, 6–4
  • 2011 Australian Open, Hard, Semi-Final
    Djokovic 7–6(7–3), 7–5, 6–4
  • 2011 Dubai Championships, Hard, Final
    Djokovic 6–3, 6–3
  • 2011 Indian Wells Masters, Hard, Semi-Final
    Djokovic 6–3, 3–6, 6–2
  • 2011 French Open, Clay, Semi-Final
    Federer 7–6(7–5), 6–3, 3–6, 7–6(7–5)
  • 2011 US Open, Hard, Semi-Final
    Djokovic 6–7(7–9), 4–6, 6–3, 6–2, 7–5
  • 2012 Italian Open, Clay, Semi-Final
    Djokovic 6–2, 7–6(7–4)
  • 2012 French Open, Clay, Semi-Final
    Djokovic 6–4, 7–5, 6–3
  • 2012 Wimbledon, Grass, Semi-Final
    Federer 6–3, 3–6, 6–4, 6–3
  • 2012 Cincinnati Masters, Hard, Final
    Federer 6–0, 7–6(9–7)
  • 2012 ATP World Tour Finals, Hard, Final
    Djokovic 7–6(8–6), 7–5
  • 2013 Paris Masters, Hard, Semi-Final Djokovic 4–6, 6–3, 6–2
  • 2013 ATP World Tour Finals, Hard, Round Robin
    Djokovic 6–4, 6–7(2–7), 6–2
  • 2014 Dubai Championships, Hard, Semi-Final
    Federer 3–6, 6–3, 6–2
  • 2014 Indian Wells Masters, Hard, Final
    Djokovic 3–6, 6–3, 7–6(7–3)
  • 2014 Monte-Carlo Masters, Clay, Semi-Final
    Federer 7–5, 6–2
  • 2014 Wimbledon, Grass, Final
    Djokovic 6–7(7–9), 6–4, 7–6(7–4), 5–7, 6–4
  • 2014 Shanghai Masters, Hard, Semi-Final
    Federer 6–4, 6–4
  • 2014 ATP World Tour Final s, Hard, Final
    DjokovicWalkover (Doesn't count in H2H record)
  • 2015 Dubai Championships, Hard, Final
    Federer 6–3, 7–5
  • 2015 Indian Wells Masters, Hard, Final
    Djokovic 6–3, 6–7(5–7), 6–2
  • 2015 Italian Open, Clay, Final
    Djokovic 6–4, 6–3
  • 2015 Wimbledon, Grass, Final
    Djokovic 7–6(7–1), 6–7(10–12), 6–4, 6–3
  • 2015 Cincinnati Masters, Hard, Final
    Federer 7–6(7–1), 6–3
  • 2015 US Open, Hard, Final
    Djokovic 6–4, 5–7, 6–4, 6–4
  • 2015 ATP World Tour Finals, Hard, Round Robin
    Federer 7–5, 6–2
  • 2015 ATP World Tour Finals, Hard, Final
    Djokovic 6–3, 6–4
  • 2016 Australian Open, Hard, Semi-Final
    Djokovic 6–1, 6–2, 3–6, 6–3
  • 2018 Cincinnati Masters, Hard, Final
    Djokovic 6–4, 6–4
  • 2018 Paris Masters, Hard, Semi-Final
    Djokovic 7–6(8–6), 5–7, 7–6(7–3)

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