On a court that once solely belonged to Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic took center stage for a second straight year.
Playing the role of Centre Court spoiler against Wimbledon’s beloved Federer, the defending champion won a rematch of the 2014 final, capturing a ninth career major title with a 7-6(1), 6-7(10), 6-4, 6-3 triumph.
Federer, a seven-time champion here and holder of a record 17 Grand Slams overall, hasn’t won a major title since 2012 when he won here. Once again the Swiss maestro was confounded by the baseline brilliance from the world’s best, who was champion at the Australian Open earlier this year.
“I think Novak played not only great today but the whole two weeks plus the week before plus the entire year and last year and the years before,” Federer joked on court. “That’s sports, that’s why we come to watch it; you don’t know the outcome. I got lucky to win the second set and had my chances early in the third, and he was tougher in the bigger points. I thought he played great. That’s how it goes.”
“I’m still very hungry and motivated to keep playing,” Federer added. “A match like this is very helpful.”
It is a win that further thrusts Djokovic into the stratosphere of the game’s best, but also one that brought about murmurs of disappointment from a British public on hand hoping to witness Federer, 33, win a record eighth title at the All England Club and 18th Grand Slam title overall.
“To walk away empty handed … for me, a finalist trophy is not the same,” Federer told reporters. “Everybody knows that. Clearly I would have loved to win today. There’s no doubt about it.”
Djokovic, not yet embraced on the level that Federer is in this sport, wins for the fifth time in seven meetings against Federer and locks their head-to-head record at 20 wins apiece in 40 matches played.
“It’s always a great privilege to play against Roger, he’s a great champion,” Djokovic said. “He’s somebody that a lot of players from my generation look up to. He makes you push your limits and work hard and earn every point. He’s not going to hand you the match. You wake up every day and work repetitively on certain things and envision yourself on this court holding the trophy.”
The 28-year-old from Serbia also moves into sole possession of eighth place among Grand Slam winners in men’s tennis history with his ninth Slam, breaking a tie with Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and others. (Courtesy US Today)