Now the Chalk Dust has Settled

Roland Garros 2017
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Now that the Chalk dust has settled on Wimbledon 2019, I’ve started eating again. Washing, too. Today, I finally put out the rubbish.

Nearly a fortnight has passed since the 2019 Men’s Wimbledon final which saw Novak Djokovic defeat Roger Federer in five sets, the final one the first match in the men’s competition to go all the way to the recently implemented 12-12 tiebreaker.

When Federer served for the match at 8-7 and had 40-30, I started recording it on my phone for a friend in the US who could not see the match. When Djokovic’s passing shot on match point 2 got the game back to deuce, I stopped recording. The moment had passed and it did not look like it would come back, either. I have witnessed Federer lose from match points up before, and to Djokovic, too, and that impending doomish inevitability made itself know to me once more. Losing from championship point in a slam final, though, that was another story.

On the first match point, at 40-15, before picking up my phone, I was standing up, ready to jump and enjoy the Federer win I had predicted. It was a biased prediction, admittedly. After all, I am a tennis blogger and a little bit of bias is part of our make-up.

But there and then, with Federer holding championship point, my faith in him, built not just on his being Federer but on his improvement since that Australian Open loss to Tsitsipas, winning in Miami, his credible Clay court run and his Halle win, seemed grounded in actual fact.

I still could not really believe it was happening, that Federer, at this stage of his career and with all his history at Wimbledon, was about to win title No.9, and defeat Novak Djokovic, world No.1, and who had beaten him in the ’14 and ’15 finals.

That Federer did not close out the match was a huge blow to me and I lay back on the couch. I watched the rest of the match as neutral as I could be, like the impartial tennis journalist I aspire to be.

Djokovic and his ability to stay in the match and give himself a chance at title No.5 playing one of the greatest grass courts of all time, whatever the speed of the court, grabbed me now. Whatever you may feel about the world No,1, his game is about as good as a tennis game has ever been, and when you let it reel you in, its own fine qualities start to charm.

As the games in the fifth set progressed to the inevitable tiebreak, the third decider of the match, Djokovic winning the other two like a man who had really been in charge all along in a match he had spent four fifths looking second best, the world No.1’s simmering determination and line perfect answer to Federer’s excellent questions was nothing less than impressive as he won the match 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 4-6, 13-12.

Djokovic may not be tennis’s darling and his game is not the elegant yet crushing brilliance of Federer’s, but he’s a champion and his tennis wins Majors. If Federer was going to lose, if he was going to let two championships points slip away from his 37 year old service arm, it was going to be against Djokovic, no one else. Watching your favorites finish second best is painful when you know what it is like to see them be number one and the champion, but the sting of it is taken out when they finish second to the likes of Djokovic.

The house is tidy now and I’m functioning. Tennis, like Djokovic does his opponents, can really crush you. The sport can really raise the spirits, too, and with the US Open in full view, starting in a month’s time, there’s no time for moping. Time to get the biases buzzing again; slam No. 21 really could be round the corner, and if it is not, watching Federer still contesting for it to the bittersweet end against the sport’s very best is still better than not watching him being a contender at all.

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Christian Deverille

Christian Deverille is a tennis writer with a diploma in Freelance Sports Writing from the London School of Journalism. He loves all things tennis, most of all the Federer and del Potro forehands.

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