Wimbledon, England: In a match that made history on multiple levels, Novak Djokovic showed that while Roger Federer may be the GOAT, he is the current king.
The world No. 1 won his fifth Wimbledon title Sunday, outlasting 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 completely captivated fans, royals and celebrities who flocked to the most hallowed grounds in tennis and produced the first tiebreaker to decide a Wimbledon title in the championship’s history.
“I think this was if not the most exciting thrilling finals I’ve ever been a part of then definitely top two or three of my career against one of the greatest players of all time,” Djokovic said in a BBC interview on Centre Court. “When I was a boy, 4-5 years old growing up and dreaming to be a tennis player one day, this was always the tournament for me. I used to make trophies out of different materials in my room.”
To record Grand Slam title No. 16, the 32-year-old had to beat the best man ever to play at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club and arguably the best ever to pick up a racket. But the Serbia native has had Federer’s number recently, winning for the ninth time in their last 11 matches. Djokovic leads their all-time head-to-head series 26-22.
Federer was aiming to win his ninth Wimbledon crown and his 21st major and to 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.
It was a great match,” Federer said in his post-match interview with the BBC “It was long. It had everything. I had my chances, certainly. … Novak was great. Congratulations, man, that was amazing. Well done.
“I hope I give some other people a chance to believe at 37 it’s not over yet. I feel great. Obviously it’s going to take some time to recover.”
After prevailing in a tightly contested first set, Djokovic lost steam in the second before finding his grove again in the third set tiebreaker. Federer stormed back again in the fourth but Djokovic gutted out a nerve-wracking fifth set in the longest final in Wimbledon history at 4 hours, 55 minutes.
GAME. SET. MATCH.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 14, 2019
“I never stopped believing even though I was very close to losing — two match points down,” Djokovic said in a post-match interview. “But I managed to find my best tennis when it mattered most.”
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. The All-England Club announced in October 2018 that it would introduce a fifth-set tiebreaker (when the score reaches 12-12 in the final set) for the 2019 tournament.