Another Wimbledon draws to a close with the same disappointing result as last year as Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer 7-6(1), 6-7(10), 6-4, 6-3 to win his third title at the All England Club.
Unfortunately Roger wasn't able to replicate his semi final form from 2 days previous; in part due to his own game not firing on all cylinders but primarily due to the relentlessness of Djokovic who was immovable from the back of the court and played the better tennis when it mattered most.
Quick Match Recap
Roger won the toss and elected to serve holding to love for a 1-0 lead. Djokovic then levelled to 30 but at 3-2 the Swiss made the first move, creating 3 break points and converting at the first attempt to lead 4-2. However Roger's serve let him down when trying to consolidate and he was broken back to 30.
Djokovic then levelled for 4-4 and looked to have stolen momentum but at 6-5 Roger created 2 set points on the Serbian's serve but couldn't convert. The set went into a tiebreak and Djokovic came up with an insane get on the very first point to take the mini break. That allowed him to run away with it with Roger only able to get 1 point on the board as Djokovic took the first set 7-1 in the breaker.
Into set 2 and after 4 quick games Roger again had break points at 2 all but Djokovic saved with them with clutch line finding balls. The next drama came at 4-5 with Roger double faulting at 30-30 and having to win his first point behind his second serve of the set to get out of trouble.
Just like set 1, the second went into a tie break and this time it was Roger who came up brilliance to win the opening point. Unlike Djokovic though he couldn't streak away, both guys swapping mini breaks before Djokovic moved clear 6-3. The Swiss wasn't going down without a fight though, saving all 3, and then a further 4 set points before finally taking it 12-10 with a fine serve / volley play behind a second serve. 1 set all.
With momentum now on Federer's side he pulled off a huge hold at the start of the third saving 2 break points before having a break point of his own which wasn't converted. At 1-1 40-15 we had the key turning point in the match where Djokovic won 4 straight points to break after Roger missed a routine forehand on break point. The break was consolidated and at 3-2 there was a 20 minute rain delay. Upon resumption Roger had half a chance at 15-30 but nothing materialised as Djokovic continued to hold serve to take the set 6-4.
With Roger never having beaten Djokovic over 5 sets things didn't look good and they got a whole lot worse at 2-2 in set 4 as Roger was broken to 30. Djokovic quickly consolidated and Roger was under pressure on serve again saving break point to stay in touch. The Swiss then had 0-30 on the Djokovic serve but again Novak came out firing, holding to 30 for a 5-3 lead and then playing a stunning return game to break and take home the title.
|1ST SERVES IN||95/145 (66%)||94/141 (67%)|
|WIN % ON 1ST SERVE||70/95 (74%)||70/94 (74%)|
|WIN % ON 2ND SERVE||30/50 (60%)||23/47 (49%)|
|RECEIVING POINTS WON||48/141 (34%)||45/145 (31%)|
|BREAK POINT CONVERSIONS||4/10 (40%)||1/7 (14%)|
|NET APPROACHES||20/34 (59%)||42/58 (72%)|
Thoughts on the Match
So where to start with this one… my main takeaway is that Federer played the better tennis in the tournament but Djokovic played the better tennis in the final and unfortunately it's the latter that gets the job done.
In terms of the match I don't think Roger played poorly but his level was way off his semi final win against Murray and I think he played better in last years final despite looking in better form this tournament on the whole.
The two big big moments were Roger not winning the first set after going up a break and then the regulation forehand in set 3 to get broken. Roger got pretty lucky to win the second set breaker after saving 7 set points with some real gritty plays but then flopped in the third to let Novak take control and basically run away with the match without ever being under too much pressure.
In my notes midway through the third set I wrote that the match was becoming way too much of a left to right baseline contest which Roger simply can't win and that's exactly what happened. Here's where I think it went wrong:
- Didn't put more than 70% of first serves in play
- Failed to keep the points as short as possible (sub 4 shots)
- Couldn't prevent Djokovic from winning over 50% of points behind his second serve
But how could Roger have done better? Djokovic was really just a man on a mission – putting a ton of pressure on Federer's serve and taking too many rallies over 4 shots which meant he was able to blunt Federer's offense and then either force the error or tuck away the short ball. The first 2 sets took 2 hours too which didn't help Federer's cause and some of his movement looked a bit sloppy towards the end. He probably knew that first set was going to be key for him which won't have helped him mentally when he knows he's up against a guy at the peak of his powers with seemingly infinite amounts of energy reserves.
The only thing you can really say is that he could have served a little better and then maybe things might have opened up for him more than they did. It was one of the few things he could fully control and it wasn't quite ‘On'.
You could also say he needed to come into the net more regularly (which he did after the rain delay clearly due to Edberg suggesting it, but he reverted back to the baseline before too long) but again that's easier said than done when you're up against a machine landing balls on your baseline time and time again.
As for Djokovic (strictly in tennis terms) you just have to say too good. Too solid, too many returns in play and better on the big points. All the talk is usually of Djokovic's backhand but they key shot for him today was his forehand. From both defensive and offensive positions he was able to consistently hit with depth which pushed Roger way back behind the baseline and either forced him to produce weak defensive shots or attempt to hit an aggressive shot from a position of weakness. Just not a recipe for Fed to get it done or be able to get on the front foot.
Final verdict? Same as last year: good tournament on the whole, disappointing result but one you can't really argue with. This morning I thought I'd be pretty pissed off if Federer lost but the only time I felt annoyed was the failure to consolidate the break in set 1 and that abysmal forehand in set 3. Once the final point played out the only thoughts I had were I'm glad this guy is still plying his trade and mixing it with guys smack bang in their primes. What more can you ask for?
P.S. Was this the worst trophy ceremony in the history of Wimbledon? Complete anti-climax having to wait for the roof to come on and the players leaving the court for about 10 minutes. It felt more of a chore for everyone involved because of that and it also meant the crowd were as flat as pancake (they were already flat because 99% wanted Fed to win). Bad idea!
Onto the hardcourts 🙂