Tennis throwback: When Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer went the distance in Wimbledon 2019 final

With Wimbledon 2021 set to get underway on Monday, we look back at the classic 2019 final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer after the Wimbledon 2019 final. (Image: Twitter/@StarSportsIndia)

Wimbledon will return to the 2021 calendar after a coronavirus induced absense in 2020. The grasscourt Grand Slam is a favourite among fans and players alike. Not only is the tradition and atmosphere strong, but winning this Grand Slam is seen by many as a sign of greatness. To say the Grand Slam was sorely missed last year would be an understatement. Of course, the fact that the 2019 men’s singles final was such a classic didn’t help matters. For it was on that day when Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer played out what can be seen as a final for the ages.

With Wimbledon 2021 set to get underway on Monday, we look back at the classic 2019 final between Djokovic and Federer.

The background

Going into the tournament, Djokovic and Federer were seeded 1 and 2, respectively. This meant there was every chance of the two greats clashing in the final.

In the first few rounds, it is fair to say Djokovic had it easier. He didn’t face any seeded competitor until the quarterfinals of the competition.

By contrast, Federer faced Lucas Pouille (seeded 27th) and Matteo Berrettini (seeded 17th) in the third and fourth rounds, respectively.

The same can be said about the quarter and semi-finals encounters of both men. Djokovic faced David Goffin (seeded 21) and Roberto Bautista Agut (seeded 23) in his two matches prior to the final.

He overcame Goffin in three sets but dropped the second set in his match against Bautista Agut before wrapping it up in four sets.

Federer, on the other hand, got through two four-setters in the quarters and semis. In the last 8 he faced Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who was seeded eighth.

Nishikori won the first set but Federer rallied to easily win the next three. This set up a mouthwatering clash with rival Rafael Nadal.

Federer took the first set in a tie-break but Nadal won the second 6-1. However, Federer comfortably won the next two sets to seal his place in the final.

Thus, the stage was set for a battle of two of the sport’s all-time greats. Fans had high expecations from the match, but the match exceeded those and then some.

Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer play out a classic

The match started with neither competitor giving an inch. In fact, the scoreline after 12 games played read 6-6 and so a tie-break was duly played out. Djokovic won that 7-5 to take the lead in the final.

Federer, however, roared back with a vengeance. He took the second set 6-1, serving with a vengeance and breaking Djokovic’s serve with similar cold-bloodedness.

And while Djokovic took the third set – again on a tie-break, winning 7-4 – it was very clear that momentum was on Federer’s side. The Swiss maestro was operating on his highest level, rifling accurate serves and well-placed winners with nonchalance.

Thus it came as little surprise when the fourth set went Federer’s way and we got a fifth set. That being said, Djokovic did finally manage to break Federer’s serve in the fourth set but the Swissman held on to take the set.

The crowd at Center Court gleefully lapped up the action, aware they were watching two fine craftsmen at work.

It is also worth noting that this year’s final was being played under new rules. Normally, a fifth set means one player has to take a two-game lead to win the match.

However, under the new rules, the match would go into a tie-breaker – but only when the set was at 12-12.

Given how crazy the final was, it should come as little surprise that the match went that distance before – amazingly – Djokovic pulled the rabbit out of the hat, won the tie-break and the final.

Federer left ruing what could have been

Yet that the match even needed a tie-break in the fifth set was cause for amazement. After all, Federer was leading 8-7 and had two championship points. Yet Djokovic turned things around and the match reached a tie-break.

Djokovic won it 7-3 and capped what was not only an amazing final, but a lenghty one too. In fact at 4 hours and 57 minutes, it was the longest Wimbledon final ever.

The match was also a statistical anomaly. Federer was the better player in the final according to every statistic except unforced errors.

He had more aces, less double faults, more winners, more net points, more break points, a better first serve percentage, more points won on his first serve, more winners, more points won, more break points won, and more games won.

“I gave it all I had,” Federer said after the match. No one could dispute that. Yet, at the end of the day, it was Djokovic who took home the title after an absolutely bonkers final.




WRITTEN BY
Sportslumo Desk

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