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Men's Match of the Decade No. 1: Djokovic d. Federer, 2019 Wimbledon
With the Serb's 7–6 (5), 1–6, 7–6 (4), 4–6, 13–12 (3) title win, tennis’ scoring system has rarely seemed so cruel, or helped make a match so thrilling.
Published Dec 06, 2019
Big Three. Big ballers. Big scores. The 2010s were defined by giant-sized contents on the men's side, which we'll review over the next two weeks.
See the entire men's and women's lists here, and relive each match with our video retrospectives.
If the last decade in men’s tennis were a movie script, its final act at Wimbledon might have seemed a little too perfect for some fans to believe. Over the course of its five ultra-tense hours, The War of 13–12 tied many of the era’s plot lines together on Centre Court.
The first of those plot lines concerned the score. After 10 years of ever-lengthening matches, including a 50-game fifth set on Centre Court in 2018, Wimbledon instituted a final-set tiebreaker the next year, at 12–12. What were the chances this would be the first singles match to make it that far?
The second plot line concerned the matchup. Twice Novak Djokovic had beaten Roger Federer in Wimbledon finals in the decade, and twice he had saved match points to beat him at the US Open. To the horror of Federer fans everywhere, he would complete both trifectas on this day, and draw one major title closer to his rival for the greatest-of-all-time crown.
Finally, there was the story of Djokovic, a player who began by laboring in the shadows of Federer and Rafael Nadal, but who emerged to become the player of the decade by surviving classics like these. In this case, Djokovic won fewer points and hit fewer winners than Federer, but he was impenetrable in the tiebreakers. Tennis’s scoring system has rarely seemed so cruel, or helped make a match so thrilling.
“It could easily have gone his way,” Djokovic said.
But like so many other epics this decade, it went his.