Djokovic saves two match points to top Federer for 16th major title

Djokovic saves two match points to top Federer for 16th major title

Novak Djokovic edged Roger Federer in the first Wimbledon men's singles match decided by a final-set tiebreaker, 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 13-12 (3) for his fifth crown at the event.

Editor's note: On Sunday, top seed Novak Djokovic edged eight-time champion Roger Federer, 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 13-12 (3) to win the longest Wimbledon final in history and claim his 16th major trophy. We'll continue to update this story as the day progresses. Stay tuned for an on-site report from Steve Flink, and stateside thoughts from Steve Tignor.

Djokovic visits the Tennis Channel desk

“There’s no particular secret” to saving match points against Federer, says Djokovic after he reflected on being in a similar position in the 2011 US Open semifinals. He spoke about coming back from Sunday’s difficult situation, the difference in his mindset from last year versus this fortnight, and need to balance his career and family life with Steve Weissman and Jon Wertheim at the Tennis Channel desk.

The Daily Serve

Weissman and Wertheim give their perspective on what came down to a battle of "courage" in the latest installment of Djokovic vs. Federer.

Djokovic dive FTW

And the ROKiT Shot of the Day honors go to...

Djokovic's press conference

The Twittersphere's take

Federer's press conference

The trophy remains with Djokovic

Player reactions in on-court interviews

On where this final ranks in Djokovic’s career:

“I think this was if not the most thrilling, exciting final I was a part of, it’s definitely in the top two, three playing against one of the greatest players of all time, Roger, who I respect a lot,” Djokovic told Sue Barker. “Unfortunately in these kinds of matches, one player has to lose. It’s quite unreal to be two match points down and come back. It’s a bit strange to play a tiebreak at 12-12 as well. I actually hoping I could get to a tiebreak.”

On where Federer goes from here after being a point away twice:

“I will try to forget,” Federer joked. “It was a great match. It was long. It had everything. I had my chances and so did he. I thought we played some great tennis. In a way I’m very happy with my performance as well. Novak, congratulations. That was crazy. Well done."

Fifth set: Djokovic wins 13-12 (3), clinches longest Wimbledon final in history

Once again, it’s Djokovic who steps up in a tiebreaker to win his fifth Wimbledon title and become the first men’s champion since 1948 to triumph after facing a championship point. At 1-1, Federer’s serve and volley tactic didn’t pay off, which ultimately proved to be the difference maker in the winner-take-all situation. Djokovic improved to 5-1 in title matches at the All England Club, and now has the honor of winning the longest Wimbledon final in history, at four hours and 55 minutes.

Fifth set: 12-12, a tiebreaker to decide the champion

Holding a 40-0 lead, Djokovic was suddenly under pressure when his rival stepped up his assertiveness off the ground to create a break point as oooohs and ahhhhhs echoed throughout the court. Federer missed a backhand slice wide and had one additional chance to break for 12-11, but failed to do enough with his forehand against the charging Serbian, who ultimately held to stay in front. Federer countered with a routine hold to send the final into a decisive tiebreaker.

Fifth set: 10-10, will we see a final set tiebreaker?

With shadows creeping across the court, the two exchanged four relatively routine holds to bring the championship to 10-10. Should Djokovic and Federer get to 12-12, it would force the two champions to play out the first fifth set singles tiebreaker in tournament history, a rule that was implemented this year.

Fifth set: 8-8, Djokovic saves two championship points

Taking the pressure off his serve with two aces, Federer held for 7-7 to push the final past the four-hour mark. He broke the Serbian with a stunning forehand pass to go up 8-7 and looked primed to finish the job with a 40-15 lead. Djokovic saved two championship points, the second with a forehand cross-court pass and broke back to even the match at 8-8 as tension clearly took over Federer's racquet. Shades of their 2011 US Open semifinal, when Djokovic came back from the brink, perhaps?

Fifth set: Deadlocked at 6-6

Two points from losing, Federer held for 5-5 to shift the pressure back to Djokovic’s racquet. A tight backhand and double fault from Djokovic provided Federer a 15-30 window. A spectacular dive for a forehand stab volley winner lifted the Serbian’s spirits, as he won three points in a row to move ahead 6-5. On three occasions, the 32-year-old was once again within two points of victory, though Federer ramped up his serve to hold for 6-6, the halfway mark of reaching a winner-take-all tiebreaker.

Fifth set: Federer levels at 4-4

Federer held his first break point of the set after Djokovic donated his eighth double fault. Though he overhit a forehand, Federer maintained trust in that shot, setting up a second break point with deep hitting before getting back on serve when his variety forced Djokovic to push a forehand long, igniting chants from the crowd yelling each player’s name.

The Swiss found himself in a 15-30 hole after playing three consecutive drop shots, none of which were cut to his usual standard. Federer reached back for two significant first serves, punctuated with an ace, to draw even with Djokovic and continue raising the tension in the air.

Fifth set: Djokovic breaks for 4-2

Serving at 1-2, Federer fended off three break points, saving the third with an out-wide ace. The Swiss would hold with a strong serve-forehand combo. Djokovic proceeded to let a 40-0 lead slip after consecutive forehand errors, but recovered. 

Three backhands flew long off Federer’s racquet at 2-3, putting his serve under duress again at 15-40. Djokovic broke on his second opportunity after punishing Federer’s poor forehand approach with a sizzling backhand cross-court pass, moving within two games of lifting his fifth Wimbledon trophy.

Fourth set: Federer wins 6-4

Much like in the second set, Djokovic’s demeanor slumped back as he was broken again to fall behind 2-5. He regrouped with a backhand down-the-line winner to set up his first break point of the match, but was denied after Federer ended a grueling 35-shot rally with his own backhand down the line finish. The Swiss though, netted successive backhands to lose serve for the first time—but with the benefit of an insurance break, forced a fifth set in his next service game by confidently closing at love.

This is the first men's final to go five sets at the All England Club since Djokovic edged Federer five years ago for the crown. Both have positive records in decisive sets: Djokovic is 29-10 (winning his past seven at Wimbledon) and Federer is 30-21.

Fourth set: Federer surges ahead 4-2

Having pushed Federer to deuce in the previous game, Djokovic played an erratic series of points to drop serve at 2-2. After Djokovic double faulted, Federer correctly challenged a Djokovic forehand long to earn the first two break points of the fourth set. Poor footwork led to Djokovic shanking a cross-court backhand, and Federer quickly consolidated with a love hold to inch closer to a decisive fifth set.

Third set: Djokovic wins 7-6 (4)

Three unforced errors off Federer’s racquet enabled Djokovic to build a 3-0 lead in the tiebreaker. Federer fought back from 5-1 to force his opponent to serve it out. But there would be no letdown from the reigning champion, who won his second 7-6 set after not creating a break point chance leading into the tiebreaker.

Third set: 5-5 (Djokovic saves set point)

Nine holds without much impact on return left Djokovic serving at 4-5. Federer came charging forward off a forehand down the line and picked up a tremendous low half volley to reach set point—but Djokovic, to his credit, dialed back to unload two well-placed serves, before holding when Federer netted a forehand.

I'm a celebrity, [don't] get me out of here

The stars have aligned on the court and in the Royal Box.

Among Sunday’s attendees include the Duchess and Duke of Cambridge, actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston, and Rod Laver, who won this event 50 years ago for the fourth time en route to completing the only men’s calendar Grand Slam in the Open era.

Second set: Federer wins 6-1

We’ve got ourselves a best-of-three final as Federer rolls to the second set by breaking the Serbian for a third time, thanks to a Djokovic double fault.

In the third set, Federer will have the advantage of serving first, a position he prefers to be in. Djokovic will look to clean up his act, having hit two winners to 10 unforced errors, while Federer hopes to continue pressing the top seed after winning an astonishing 70 percent of return points in the second set.

Second set: Federer serving up 3-0

With Federer dictating play to start the second set at 15-30, Djokovic slipped in the center of the baseline to find himself down two break points. Will that fall be a turning point looked back on later today? A loose forehand error immediately followed to hand Federer the first break of the final. The 37-year-old consolidated before breaking Djokovic again for a double-break lead. With his intensity dipping, Djokovic consumed an energy drink during the changeover.

First set: Djokovic wins 7-6 (5)

Their past two Wimbledon final meetings opened with a first-set tiebreaker, so it’s only appropriate this high-quality set reached that stage once again. Federer went down an early mini break after missing a backhand long, but regrouped with aggressive ball-striking to move ahead, 5-3.

Five times in total, Djokovic found himself two points from losing the set (twice at deuce down 4-5 earlier), but rallied to emerge with a one-set lead following Federer's backhand error. Djokovic will have history on his side thanks to his sparkling 10-0 record at Wimbledon when he wins a first-set tiebreaker.

First set: 4-4 

In the fourth game, Federer missed the first break point of the match after overcooking a forehand in a point he controlled from the baseline. He won’t want to let many chances slip if they come early: in his past four major defeats to Djokovic, Federer has converted just nine of 41 break points. Djokovic has since held comfortably without much resistance to match Federer on serve.

Pre-match notes

In a matchup of the top two seeds, world No. 1 Djokovic bids to win his fourth major in five Grand Slam events against eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer. The 37-year-old Federer aims to win a record-extending 21st major, while Djokovic can move within four of Federer's total and two of Rafael Nadal.

The state lean in Djokovic’s favor: the Serbian has won eight of their past 10 matches; he's 9-6 against Federer in majors; 3-1 against him in major finals; 12-6 in all finals; and has an overall edge of 25-22. Djokovic has won four of his five final-round appearances at the All England Club, including two over the Swiss, in 2014 and 2015. To no surprise, Djokovic leads the tournament by winning 38 percent of his return games, converting 34 of 71 break points.

Coming into The Championships with his 10th Halle title, Federer has won 11 consecutive matches and leads the ATP tour with a 38-4 record in 2019. The owner of an Open era record 19 grass-court crowns, Federer is looking to defeat Rafael Nadal and Djokovic in the same major for the first time in his career. Contesting his 12th final at SW19, Federer enters Sunday as the event leader in service games won at 95 percent, saving 17 of the 22 break points he’s faced.