Novak Djokovic withstood a ferocious challenge from Roger Federer to successfully defend his Wimbledon men’s singles title – the third of his career – and claim his ninth Grand Slam trophy as a professional.
The world No.1 recovered superbly from the disappointment of missing seven set points that would have opened up a two-set lead, hitting back to beat the 17-time Grand Slam champion 7-6(1), 6-7(10), 6-4, 6-3.
The top two players in the world treated a packed Centre Court to some spellbinding tennis at times – particularly during a thrilling 22-point second set tie-break – but Djokovic was ultimately just too solid from the back of the court during nearly three hours on court.
Djokovic has now won two majors this season after capturing the Australian Open in January, and his still lost just three matches during 2015.
It had looked like it would be Federer who would open up a one-set lead when he broke first and held for 4-2, but Djokovic broke back immediately – just the second time Federer had lost his serve during the tournament.
Federer kept pressing and engineered two set points with Djokovic serving at 5-6, only for the Serbian to save both with big serves out wide to the ad court. The No.1 seed eventually held with an ace to force a tiebreak, produced a brilliant short backhand winner on the stretch to take the first point of the shootout and never looked back, raising his game to sweep through the tie-break 7-1.
The real drama came towards the end of the second set, however, when both men produced their very best tennis. Having saved a set point serving at 4-5, time and again Federer found himself facing further set points as he fought to level the match.
He trailed 3-6 in the tie-break, before dragging the scores back to 6-6, and negotiated another three Djokovic set points before scrambling home 12-10, a backhand volley sealing it as what sounded like every one of the 15,000 fans inside Centre Court roared their approval.
Wimbledon.org reports that a furious Djokovic regrouped immediately, upping his intensity, playing noticeably more aggressive tennis and breaking for 2-1 when Federer missed a short forehand close to the net.
With Djokovic leading 3-2 in the third set, there was a 20-minute break for a short, sharp rain shower but even that didn’t de-rail the defending champion, who raced through three service games on resumption to open up a two-sets-to-one lead.
Djokovic began to push for the finish line midway through the fourth when he broke again for 3-2, and a few minutes later he took the Federer serve once more in the final game of the match before celebrating his third title in SW19 in the last five years.