Wimbledon 2015 Final Review Novak Djokovic Defeats Roger Federer


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Novak Djokovic, the top seed and defending champion, may have been the bookies favorite going into the 2015 Wimbledon final, but he was not so in the eyes of many fans and pundits. The Federer grass court game had promised much in the semi-finals but the Swiss legend could not deliver, and, when he threatened to Djokovic was not getting to let him either. The top seed’s 7-6(1), 6-7(10), 6-4, 6-3 victory will not go down as one of the most popular wins, but it will be well up there alongside some of the most solid and clutch Wimbledon final displays in history.

When Roger Federer broke Novak Djokovic for 4-2 in the first set of the 2015 Wimbledon final, his legion of fans celebrated. The high risk return game the Swiss had executed so impressively beating Andy Murray in the semi-final was, once again, paying off, and the prospect of an 18th Slam for the Swiss looked to be a few sets away.

Andy Murray, though, is no Novak Djokovic. They may have a few things in common, but the Serb is a far more dangerous rival to Federer at Slams, and especially in finals. The defending champion also has a much better  return game, arguably the best on tour. He would demonstrate just how good that return game was in the next game as he did something only Gilles Simon had managed to do all fortnight- break the Federer serve. He did not have to fight for it either. Aggressive on his ground strokes, and smart on break point with a high, heavy passing shot off the backhand that forced a Federer error at the net break point down, the Serbian broke to 30.

That immediate break back left Federer fans with little time to enjoy the prospect of victory, changing the mood of a match that looked to be another vintage Federer display at SW19 into something else very familiar of late- Djokovic beating Federer in a final.

The Serbian had won 4 of their last five finals, and all the big ones- Wimbledon ’14, Indian Wells ’14 and ’15, and Rome ’15. If Federer was going to change that trend, he needed a similar serving display to the one he had put in against Murray, but the way he surrendered that service game to Djokovic so quickly, suggested he would not be able to repeat his semi-final display, and also, just as fatally, that Djokovic would not let him.

That winning record in recent finals looked to continue for Djokovic as his depth of shot, defense and carefully constructed attack, and variety of length and angles dismantled Federer in the first set tie-break 7-1, the Swiss feeling the pressure of the Djokovic return as he double faulted to surrender the set, and the Serb led by a set to love.

Losing the first set was, in many people’s eyes, an almighty nail in the Swiss’ coffin, though it was only the first one and the lid was still loose enough for him to break out could he gather all his strength. The consensus before the match was that Federer needed to get the job done quickly, and falling a set down to Djokovic meant if Federer were to win, it was going to be, like last year, another long afternoon, the kind of afternoons that turn into early evening. The kind of afternoons Djokovic likes.

There was still hope that this year’s result might be different, though. Three of those four Djokovic final wins had gone the distance, with Djokovic getting nervous and failing to take a grip on the match, and Federer had had his chances. That script played out in this final, too, as Djokovic squandered set points in set two, and Federer took the second set tiebreaker 12-10 to level the match at a set all.

But while Djokovic is prone to nerves on the big occasion, he is also skilled at getting back on track, and he was threatening the Federer serve from the first game of the third set, finally breaking Federer a service game later  to get an early lead. The Serbian, keeping his error count low and his shots deep, held all the way to 5-4 and then, with the pressure on again, could not have been more solid serving out for a two sets to one lead. The world No.1 did not miss a first serve.

In the fourth set, Djokovic could not have been more clinical as he, as confident in his tools as ever, took the Federer game apart all the way to 5-3 where, returning the Federer serve, he earned championship  point with a backhand winner. After his roar had died down, he sprung to life again on his return game, working his way to the middle of the court with two backhands and then whipping a short ball away with the forehand for a winner, converting his first championship point with another roar that more than made up for the muted response from the mostly pro-Federer crowd, many still in their seats as the two players shook hands at the net.

The crowd may not have wanted to believe the 7-6(1), 6-7(10), 6-4, 6-3 score in Djokovic’s favor, but they slowly stood up and applauded a man whose game may not be as smooth, as beautiful or as awe-inspiring as the Swiss’, but whose mastery of the modern game, the unrivalled transition from defense to attack that may make him the most successful all surface player of all time, has its own beauty, one that grows on you much like the grass Djokovic ate post-victory grows on the Center Court lawn he is making his own.

Commentary by Christian Deverill

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