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Djokovic beats Federer in longest-ever Wimbledon final for fifth title

The world number one moves to 16 Grand Slam wins after another Centre Court classic.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC EVENTUALLY broke Roger Federer’s resistance to edge another epic five-set Centre Court showdown and win his fifth Wimbledon title in the longest-ever final at SW19.

The world number one conjured a superb rearguard action to save two championship points deep in the fifth set, before his relentless power-hitting earned him his 16th Grand Slam singles title, 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 4-6, 13-12 [7-3].

Wimbledon 2019 - Day Thirteen - The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club Djokovic reigned supreme on Centre Court again. Source: Mike Egerton

Djokovic is the first man since 1948 to save championship points in the final and go on to win. 

Djokovic has now beaten the Swiss great in each of their three SW19 final showdowns, as the Serb defended the crown he won last year to add to the Australian Open he won earlier in 2019.

In winning his fifth Wimbledon title, Djokovic moves level with Björn Borg on the All-England Club honours board, two behind Pete Sampras and three behind Federer.

Despite being outplayed by the 37-year-old for large parts of the knife-edge encounter, Djokovic prevailed amid utter drama on Centre Court. 

At four hours and 57 minutes, it was the longest Wimbledon final ever played and settled by a final set tiebreak for the first time.

“I think that if this is not the most exciting final then definitely it’s in the top two or three of my career against one of the greatest players of all time, Roger, who I respect,” said Djokovic.

“Unfortunately in this type of match someone has to lose. It is quite unreal to be two match points down to come back and strange to play a tie-break at 12-12.”

It was incredibly tough on Federer, chasing a ninth Wimbledon crown, who didn’t face a break point until the eighth game of the fourth set.

He even had two match points in the 16th game of the deciding set which lasted over two hours.

“It was long and it had everything. I had answers, so did he and we played some great tennis,” said Federer.

“I hope I give some other people at 37 the feeling it is not over yet.”

Wimbledon 2019 - Day Thirteen - The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club Djokovic won his 16th Grand Slam. Source: Mike Egerton

Djokovic’s win meant that the ‘Big Three’ of men’s tennis — himself, Federer and Rafael Nadal — have won the last 11 Slams.

He has now won nine of his last 11 clashes against Federer and three of their four Wimbledon meetings.

Federer carved out the only break point of the opening set — but Djokovic saved it and with serve dominating, the set was decided by the tiebreak.

The top seed was 3-1 up, then Federer inched to 5-3 before Djokovic swept the next four points.

At 58 minutes, it was two minutes longer than the women’s final on Saturday.

Djokovic, however, then went completely off the boil, losing his footing as he was broken in the first game of the second set.

Federer broke twice again and after just 25 more minutes the final was all-square with Djokovic managing just two winners in the set.

Federer was comfortably on top in the third set, flashing winners from all parts of the court but was unable to convert a set point in the 10th game.

Djokovic made him pay. Despite not managing a single break point in the match, he pounced again in the tiebreak to reclaim the lead.

Federer wasn’t finished. Back came the veteran with a double break for 5-2.

Djokovic then carved out his first break points of the match in the eighth game.

Wimbledon 2019 - Day Thirteen - The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club The pair produced an epic final. Source: Victoria Jones

The first was saved after a breathtaking 35-shot rally before the Serb finally broke for the first time.

It was too little, too late, however, as Federer deservedly levelled the final.

Into a tense finale, Federer saved three break points in the fourth game but a drilled, backhand passing shot gave Djokovic the break in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead.

The world number one couldn’t back it up and Federer had Centre Court on their feet when he restored parity in the next game.

Despite twice being just two points from defeat, Federer broke for 8-7 but was unable to serve out for the match.

As the clock ticked past the previous longest final of 4 hours and 48 minutes it took Nadal to beat Federer in the 2008 final, the match was decided by the first 12-12 tiebreak in a singles match at the tournament.

Djokovic prevailed, moving to three championship points and claiming victory when Federer shanked a return wide.

With reporting from AFP

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Ryan Bailey

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