LONDON: In a match that produced history on multiple levels, Novak Djokovic showed that while Roger Federer may be the Greatest of All Time, he is the current king.
The world No. 1 won his fifth Wimbledon tennis title on Sunday, dispatching his longtime rival 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 13-12 (7-3) in an epic heavyweight duel that saw fans, royals and celebrities who flocked to the most hallowed grounds in tennis completely enraptured and produced the first tiebreaker to decide a Wimbledon title in the championship’s history.
To record Grand Slam title No. 16, the 32-year-old had to beat the best man to ever play at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club and arguably the best to ever pick up a racquet. But the Serbia native has had Federer’s number recently, winning for the ninth team in their last 11 matches. Djokovic leads their all-time head-to-head series 26-22.
Federer was aiming to win his 21st major and become the oldest man (37 years, 340 days) in the Open era to win a Grand Slam singles title. Instead, it was Djokovic who made history as the first man in the Open era over age 30 to successfully defend a Wimbledon title.
After prevailing in a tightly contested first set, Djokovic lost steam in the second before finding his grove again in the third set tiebreaker. After Federer stormed back again in the fourth, Djokovic gutted out a nerve wracking fifth set in the longest final in Wimbledon history.
The match marked the first time a men’s Grand Slam final had gone beyond 6-6 in the fifth set since the 2009 Wimbledon Championship, when Federer outlasted Andy Roddick 16-14 in the 5th set.
It was the third time Djokovic beat Federer in a Wimbledon final after winning a five-set marathon in 2014 and a four-setter in 2015. The pair also met at Wimbledon in the 2012 semifinals, which Federer won in four sets.