The fans cheered for Novak Djokovic at the end of another epic Wimbledon final, beating Roger Federer in five sets, out of courtesy and habit. They really preferred to see him on the losing side of things on what remained of the grass court, making the triumph and lifting his seventh Grand Slam title a whole lot sweeter.
Roger Federer had plenty of what if’s after the match to think about, missing out on his 18th Grand Slam title and his first since Wimbledon 2012. On grass, despite his age and struggles when it comes to best-of-five matches, he is still something special, defying age and the unavoidable chipping away of time at his body and skills.
While he crumbled in the last two games of the final set, it might have been losing the tiebreak of the first set that made all the difference. He led 3-0 before his backhand failed him again three consecutive times, paving the way for Djokovic to beat him for a 17th time and a second time this year in a final, the previous one coming at Indian Wells. Federer has beaten Djokovic twice in 2014, but those were both semifinals. His last Gran Slam victory over Djokovic came in 2012 at the Wimbledon semifinal.
Djokovic’s patience and ability to take advantage of Federer wanting to finish points fast was on his side once more. His ability to block out interference and the effect of the crowd, pro-Federer as always and maybe even more than before, was just as important if not more. It was his first Grand Slam title of the season, his first since the 2013 Australian Open. The road to it was difficult as well, just like it’s last moment.
Federer dropped only one set en route to his clash with Djokovic. He beat two top 10 players in Stanislas Wawrinka (quarterfinals, four sets) and Milos Raonic (semifinals, three sets) on the way, and looked as sharp as he’s ever been, the best he’s looked all year. Grass and Wimbledon usually do that to him, although it didn’t show last year. Federer was simply playing great tennis for the first time in a while.
Djokovic got in trouble against Radek Stepanek in the second round, and was down two sets to one in the quarterfinals against Marin Cilic before breaking down the Croat. He needed two tiebreaks in the semifinal against Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals, but as always, making things harder only made him better and more prepared in the final.
It’s always hard to say how much Federer has left. It seems that considering him as a contender and among the favorites in majors only works at Wimbledon. If that’s so, a month before his 33rd birthday, maybe he really did blow his final chance. Novak Djokovic, number one in the world, even on grass, is probably too good for him at this point.