The twists and turns that took place in Sunday's final were on par with the significance of the match, with it resembling title fighters exchanging knockout blows only to lift themselves up from the canvas and swing back. In the end, Djokovic just barely had enough in an affair that could have seen so many alternate endings.
Bleacher Report UK summed up Djokovic's victory:
Novak Djokovic has defeated Roger Federer to win Wimbledon! It’s his seventh Grand Slam title. pic.twitter.com/TShDGoP22U— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) July 6, 2014
After falling in the first set despite going to a tiebreak, Djokovic validated his top seed and rallied back for two straight set wins. He dropped the fourth but came up big in the fifth to seal his second Wimbledon championship.
Take a look at the final score line and overall match highlights:
|Novak Djokovic def. Roger Federer||6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 5-7, 6-4|
Although it ended with him lifting the trophy, Djokovic wasn't in the clear on Sunday even if he played his best throughout five sets.
Why was the top seed not in control despite playing at top form? Well, because Federer decided to turn back the clock.
At the age of 32, Federer has been on a mission for his 18th Grand Slam ever since play began at the All England Club. After all, his last major came two years ago on the same court. His play indicated that, as his serves were on point early on, allowing for him to squeak out the first set in a tiebreak.
It took incredible shots like this for Djokovic to even stay in the hunt early on:
Djokovic was rattled, but he didn't let it get to him. Instead, he battled his way back in front.
The Serbian took the second set 6-4 in just about the most lopsided score you could get with these two legends playing at the level they were.
The third set was the first real chance for either to take a stranglehold over the match. Tied at one set apiece, it went to a tiebreak with both Djokovic and Federer crushing their serves.
By the end of the tiebreak, Djokovic had taken control and moved within one set of a championship, per Wimbledon:
Sports Illustrated Tennis showcased how even though Federer was playing perhaps his best tennis, it just wasn't enough:
Roger Federer served at 83% and hit just 4 UFE in that set. And lost it. Steely effort in that tiebreaker for Djokovic, who now leads 2-1.— SI Tennis (@SI_Tennis) July 6, 2014
There was no doubting the Swiss star's heart and determination in trying to get back into the match. But when Djokovic moved up 2-1 and then took a commanding control over the fourth set 5-2, it looked like Federer was all but done.
He was down but far from out. Djokovic had a match point opportunity, but Federer stayed strong and ended up winning the fourth set.
The momentum was swinging in his direction, as told by this crowd reaction shot from Wimbledon:
Federer had all of the momentum entering the fifth set, and he was undoubtedly the fresher player of the two. Djokovic lost his footing on a few occasions and took a medical timeout as a trainer massaged his calf.
Meanwhile, Federer was looking better and better. His serving prowess in the fifth set had Andy Roddick remembering their 2009 final:
Best I've seen Roger serve since ....... Damn it— andyroddick (@andyroddick) July 6, 2014
The Serbian may not have been at his best, but he had enough to continue holding his serve in the fifth set. Only, Federer was doing the same.
Djokovic had a few opportunities to break, and he finally took advantage with the championship one game away. Leading 5-4, he broke Federer's serve to win his second Wimbledon title.
The champion was understandably emotional after the win, giving credit to Federer's all-time great status while admiring his own accomplishments:
Much of the tennis world was rooting for Federer simply because of what an eighth title at Wimbledon would have meant for his legacy. But there's no doubting that the feeling for Djokovic is similarly sweet after coming up short in so many majors as of late.
Grantland's Brian Phillips echoed that sentiment:
I was rooting for Federer as like an aesthetic principle of history but I'm really really happy for Djokovic just as a dude.— Brian Phillips (@runofplay) July 6, 2014
At the age of 27, Djokovic has now lifted his seventh Grand Slam title. That may not be enough to threaten Federer's 17 or Rafael Nadal's 14, but his status as a tennis legend should be sealed by now.
Is Djokovic the best active player in today's game?
With Djokovic at the top of his game and at the top of the sport, there's no telling how many Grand Slams he'll win over the next calendar year. If he can add two or three to his collection, he could be pushing the all-time greats by the time he reaches the latter end of his career.
For Federer, he certainly proved that his game is still up there with the best of them. It may be two years now since he's won a Grand Slam and his best days may be behind him, but his best right now is still good enough to contend with the top stars.
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