Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer to win his second Wimbledon title and reclaim the top spot in men’s tennis.
The Serbian beat seven-time winner Federer 6-7 (7-9), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 6-4 on Centre Court. It is his seventh Grand Slam title, and the first since the 2013 Australian Open. Djokovic won his first title at London’s All England Club in 2011, the same year as the 2014 women’s champion, Petra Kvitova.
“Thank you for letting me win today,” a tearful Djokovic told Federer, who had saved a match point in the fourth set, during the trophy presentation. “It wasn’t easy to regroup.”
His win against the Swiss 32-year-old ends a run of three straight defeats in major finals. Djokovic, 27, lost to Andy Murray of Britain at Wimbledon last year, while Rafael Nadal got the better of him at the U.S. Open and last month’s French Open.
Although it was the 35th career meeting between Djokovic and Federer, it was only the second Grand Slam final between the pair since the 2007 U.S. Open won by Federer. It was also the first major final that didn’t feature either Murray or nine-time French Open winner Nadal since the 2009 U.S. Open.
“It was a great final,” Federer said in front of a crowd that included his wife and twin daughters; Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge; David and Victoria Beckham; and Kate Winslet. “I felt the love out here again. See you next year.”
In the first-set tie-break, Federer took a 4-2 lead before letting Djokovic back into the set with three backhand errors in a row. Djokovic missed a set point at 6-5 with a forehand error, and then another one at 7-6 as Federer produced a 122 mile-per-hour ace. Back at 7-7, Federer set up a set point of his own with another blistering serve and won the set on a backhand error.
Djokovic recovered in the second set, forcing the first break of the match in the third game as Federer double faulted and then got passed at the net. After saving a break point, Djokovic clenched his fist toward his box after he took the set 6-4 on a smash.
Serving at 4-4 in the third set, Federer held with a full game of aces. Trying to fire himself up with shouts of “come on,” Federer fended off two break points at 5-5, both with booming serves. In the third-set tie-break, Federer dropped a point on his serve as he got passed on a serve-and-volley combination. Djokovic set up two set points with a forehand on the line, and took a two sets to one lead on a backhand error.
With Djokovic leading 5-2 in the fourth set, it looked like the match would be over soon. Serving for the championship at 5-3, Djokovic handed Federer a break point as he slipped on the baseline and then got broken on a forehand winner. Serving to stay in the championship at 5-4 down, Federer saved a match point with an ace on a HawkEye challenge. It was all Federer after that, taking the match into a deciding set with a powerful forehand that drew the error.
Djokovic, who received a medical timeout for treatment on his left calf after three games in the final set, saved a break point at 3-3. With both players going for broke from the baseline, Federer saved three break points at 4-3 down, two with hard serves and the third one with a serve-and-volley combination. Djokovic didn’t waver when he set up two more match points as he led 5-4, taking it as Federer dumped a backhand into the net.
After Murray lost to Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals and Nadal was ousted by Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round, it looked like a changing of the guard in men’s tennis was taking place on the London lawns. It ended with a final between two players who have now won a combined 24 Grand Slam singles titles.
The four Grand Slam events have been won by Murray, Nadal, Federer or Djokovic since the 2004 French Open with three exceptions: Russia’s Marat Safin at the 2005 Australian Open; Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro at the 2009 U.S. Open; and Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka at this year’s Australian Open.
Today’s final also pitted two former Wimbledon champions against each other as coaches, with two-time winner Stefan Edberg of Sweden in Federer’s corner and three-time champion Boris Becker of Germany advising Djokovic. Edberg and Becker played three consecutive Wimbledon finals from 1988 to 1990, with the Swede winning two of them.