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Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic defends Wimbledon title

James Thorogood
July 14, 2019

Defending champion Novak Djokovic claimed his fifth Wimbledon title beating eight-time champion Roger Federer in a record-breaking five-set thriller. It stands as the longest final settled by an historic tie-break.

Wimbledon 2019 | Finale Novak Djokovic - Roger Federer
Image: Reuters/T. Melville

Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 13-12 (7-3) to defend his title at London's All England Club, drawing level with Björn Borg's haul of five titles.

The clash between Djokovic and eight-time winner Roger Federer lived up to its billing as both produced tennis of the highest quality in a five-set thriller that lasted three minutes shy of five hours on Centre Court.

A pulsating first set concluded in a tie-break that had the crowd on tenterhooks. With Federer mixing up the pace, Djokovic's movement and defensive tennis drew unforced errors from the Swiss, who handed his opponent the first set after failing to land two ambitious winners inside the baseline. 

After neither player managed to produce a break in the first set, Federer turned things around quickly in the second and found himself two breaks up with three games played. With Djokovic's defenses not providing as stern a resistance, Federer cruised to a second set win in less than half the time of the first.

Djokovic moved to within a set of a fifth Wimbledon title after fighting back from a set point down to claim the third set at the end of another tense tie break. The reigning champion was winning the more pivotal points, but Federer was arguably playing the better tennis. 

With the Centre Court crowd staunchly behind him though, the Swiss again fought back in the fourth, breaking Djokovic twice to take a 5-2 lead. While he was broken himself for the first time in the match when serving for the set, Federer held on at love with his second opportunity. 

In the first men's singles final to go to five sets since 2014, it was Djokovic who stole an advantage, capitalizing on the second of two break points to take a 4-2 lead. Federer broke back immediately, but with neither player dropping a game, an electrifying final extended to a tie break after ending 12-12 as per the rules introduced in 2019.

Yet it was the two match points squandered with the game at 8-7 that came back to haunt Federer, as like in the earlier tie breaks, Djokovic moved into a commanding 6-3 lead before completing his title defence courtesy of a Federer miss hit.

"I think this was, if not the most exciting and thrilling final I've been a part of then definitely in the top two or three of my career - and against one of the greatest of all time in Roger who I respect a lot," Djokovic told the BBC.

"Unfortunately in these matches one player has to lose. Both of us had our chances. It was quite unreal to have match points against me and come back and then to have a tie-break at 12-12.

"I was actually hoping I could get to a tie-break. Roger said he hopes he give people the chance to believe at 37 years old and I hope that I am one of them. He inspires me that's for sure."

Clocked at four hours and 57 minutes Djokovic's win broke the Wimbledon record for the longest singles final eclipsing the 2008 final between Federer and Nadal which ended at the four hours and 48 minute mark.

Djokovic is now just three men's singles titles short of equalling the record held by Federer.

James Thorogood Sports reporter and editor, host of Project FußballJMThorogood