Hey all, well what a final that was huh? Could have been over in 4 but Roger fought till the very end, took it to 5 sets and was extremely close to coming out on the good side of things. Obviously a disappointing result but I don't feel too down about it, just one of those matches that was good to be a part of that had a little bit of everything.
Easily one of the best Federer matches I've watched in a long time, not because he played his absolute best tennis but because he showed some top quality mental strength and clutch ability which he's often been criticised for lacking. He showed some real courage out there to fight off match points and break points with precision serving and high quality groundstrokes. Sometimes you just gotta sit back and enjoy what Fed can do on a tennis court regardless of how emotionally invested you are as a fan. He plays on the finest of margins and comes up with the goods time and time again and somehow manages to make it look effortless. In terms of watching sports, it doesn't really get any better than watching Fed yield a tennis racquet.
And as a fan you can't ask for more than to see a guy who's 32 still mixing it with players smack bang in the middle of their prime. The crowd loved it and every time Fed steps on court he gets people interested in the sport around the world. Maybe the most important player in the game ever and certainly the one I've enjoyed watching the most by an absolute country mile; whether he's winning or losing it's an experience.
Quick Match Recap
The first set was dominated by serve and Djokovic was the one looking more solid despite all the talk coming into this one being of Roger only being broken once in the entire tournament. Surprisingly neither player fashioned a break point and the set went into the tie break.
Here both players exchanged mini breaks but Djokovic was the first to have a set point at 5-6. Roger saved it but soon found himself 6-7 down. He then fired down 2 huge first serves to lead 8-7 before drawing the error from Djokovic to get off to a great start. Very clutch breaker and if he was going to win this he had to win the first set, peRFect start.
The 2nd set was all about Djokovic applying pressure on the return and Fed needed all his experience to hold in his opening service game fighting off 2 break points in the process. However at 1 all though he wasn't able to keep parity as Djokovic broke for 2-1 and although Roger fashioned one chance to break back at 4-5 down Djokovic was relatively untroubled for the duration and he levelled up the match taking the 2nd 6-4.
The third was much like the first set and completely dominated by serve as Roger fired down some huge holds, amazingly hitting 4 aces in a row to take a 5-4 lead. Inevitably this one went to another breaker which saw some quite tentative play from both players. Here Djokovic got the early mini break only for Roger to snatch it back but he then missed a makeable forehand at 3-4. Djokovic went on to take it 7 points to 4. Huge miss looking back as momentum would have been his, inside-in over the high part of the net, high risk, high reward but it didn't pay off and this is ultimately where the match was lost. 2 set to 1 up and I think Fed gets it done but it just wasn't to be.
The fourth set looked like Djokovic was going to run away with it as he broke to lead 3-1. However Fed hit back immediately only to drop serve again and then found himself down 2-5. This was probably the most exciting period of the match as Federer played some of the mentally toughest tennis I have seen in a while, coming up with the goods on numerous points breaking back and then holding to level at 5 all. It was gusty, clutch and needed some shotmaking of the highest order.
After levelling at 5 all I expected another tie break but Roger broke for the third time in the set and then served it out to 15 to take it into a decider. Epic play from the GOAT and the crowd loved it.
We've witnessed fifth set lulls from Federer numerous times but when he held his opening service game I had a pretty good feeling on the outcome of this one. At 2-1 Djokovic took a medical timeout for a calf issue but it didn't appear to effect Roger as he fired down a love hold to level.
3 all saw the first key moment as Roger fashioned his first break point of the set but couldn't convert. At 4-3 Djokovic had a chance to break himself but Roger served and volleyed on the 2nd serve to hold. Extreme courage to do that in such a moment and it paid off.
At 4 all came the 2nd key moment and probably the deciding factor as at 15 all Fed constructed a beautiful point only to miss the overhead. It wasn't the easiest smash but when you're Roger Federer and you only miss about 2 or 3 of those in an entire year it's gotta hurt. That miss gave Djokovic 30-15 and he went onto hold.
Serving to stay in the match Roger found himself in immediate difficulty at 0-30 and was soon 15-40 down, he saved one match point but a backhand error gave Djokovic his second Wimbledon title.
|Novak Djokovic (SRB)||Roger Federer (SUI)|
|1st serves in||108 of 174 = 62 %||133 of 192 = 69 %|
|1st serve points won||79 of 108 = 73 %||102 of 133 = 77 %|
|2nd serve points won||43 of 66 = 65 %||26 of 59 = 44 %|
|Fastest serve||124 MPH||127 MPH|
|Average 1st serve speed||116 MPH||115 MPH|
|Average 2nd serve speed||92 MPH||100 MPH|
|Net points won||26 of 35 = 74 %||44 of 67 = 66 %|
|Break points won||4 of 15 = 27 %||3 of 7 = 43 %|
|Receiving points won||64 of 192 = 33 %||52 of 174 = 30 %|
|Total points won||186||180|
Thoughts on the Match
Ultimately the match boiled down to just a few points here and there and I think Roger will be a little disappointed that he wasn't able to create a few more break opportunities in some key service games. Putting pressure on Djokovic would have made his own service games that bit easier.
I feel like Roger played his absolute best when he was under the most extreme pressure on his own serve but he couldn't quite replicate that when the match was in a more neutral position or when Djokovic was serving. Usually it's the other way round for Fed as he produces a ton of chances but can be quite shaky when under pressure himself. Kinda like a reverse today – rock solid under pressure but no chances to break and in the end it caught up with him.
Obviously Fed turned it on at 2-5 down in the fourth but those were the only times in the entire match he was able to break serve. I think when he assesses with Edberg after, if they do look back on this, then that's an area he would have wanted to perform better in. The pressure was on Roger's serve completely in the first 3 sets and in sets 1, 2 ,3 and 5 he only created 2 break point chances both of which weren't converted. That isn't really enough to get the job done especially against such a fierce returner. When you break it down like that he played an absolute blinder to take this one to 5, perhaps he's just all about the value for money for the ticket buyers 🙂
In terms of turning points there quite a few stand out moments in this one. The first being the missed inside in FH in the third set breaker from Fed. I think if he made it he would have gone onto win the breaker and lead by 2 sets to 1. Obviously all an if now but it was a big point and it would have been a completely different match.
Then of course we had the crazy run of games in the fourth set where both players exchanged and Fed fought back from 2-5 to take it 7-5 with some unbelievable play. Djoker missed a couple of easy forehands in that span of play and I thought Fed was going to go on and win it but Djokovic managed to regroup for the fifth.
Then in the decider we had the Federer break point at 3 all which Djokovic saved before going onto hold and then the missed Federer smash at 15 all, 4 all. I can't believe he missed that smash and it would have given him a big big opening. So close but what can you do? The hold for 5-4 put a ton of scoreboard pressure on Fed and that was where it ended. I guess he did play the scoreboard in that game missing a few first serves when he needed them and Djoker mops up 2nd serves for fun. All of his returns landed just inches from the baseline. So hard to do anything on that ball other than push it back into play and then you're immediately behind in the rally. Not the place Federer wanted to be.
But like I said, what can you do? It's easy to look back and think of some different things Fed could have tried but it's obvious he gave it his all out there and just came out a on the wrong side of things. Djokovic is too good a player to lose so many slam finals on the bounce and he was clearly ultra focused to make sure he broke the losing streak. Fair play to him and I think on balance Djokovic just shaded it as he was ultra consistent on serve and from the baseline.
It's extremely difficult to get the ball past Novak as he covers so much court and still hits with depth making it even harder to stay in control of the rally. If you look at the Winner / Unforced Error stats for both guys they are quite incredible but I think Djokovic won enough of the exchanges over 4/5 shots to give really make the difference in the fifth. Pleasing display for him after a run of poor performances in slam finals and he's going to be a tough proposition on the hard courts over the next 2 months.
Anyway Wimbledon draws to a close and the grass court season is sadly over. Far too quickly in my opinion but we're back on the hard courts in Toronto at the start of August. I'm sure Fed will have some good matches in store. Allez!