This is the greatest match I’ve ever seen. Commentator and former singles champion, John McInroe
The top players produce a classic
By Roger Childs
It was a classic match-up and it didn’t disappoint. Like those who witnessed the amazing Federer-Nadal final in 2008, the spectators at courtside and on the hill outside, knew they had experienced something special.
Roger Federer, a seven times Wimbledon winner took Novak Djokovic, the champion in 2011 down to the wire. The Serb eventually won 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 5-7, 6-4 in a spectacular four hour match, which now must rank with the best of all time.
The stars make the final but the pack is hunting
It is a golden age of men’s tennis, but Federer, Nadal and Djokovic continue to dominate as they have for many years. Since 2003, they have won an incredible 38 of the 43 grand slams. However there are plenty of very talented younger players baying at the heels of the big three, but they have yet to make a major final.
Wimbledon, and Roland Garros a few weeks ago, showed that the chasing pack is getting closer. Latvian Ernests Gulbis beat Federer in Paris to get to the semi finals, and Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov and Canadian Milos Raonic were semi-finalists at Wimbledon. But making the finals breakthrough is still too tough.
One of the big upsets in the fourth round of Wimbledon was the victory of Aussie unknown Nick Kyrgios (pictured above), over the then number one in the world, Rafael Nadal. Ranked 144, Kyrgios was a wild card entry but, against Nadal, played as if he was a top seed. He hammered down 38 aces and played powerful ground strokes and cross-court winners that more than matched the Spaniard. Whether he can kick on from this success remains to be seen, however the potential is there.
The great men battle it out
Federer won the first set in the final in a tie break. Djokovic had played more consistently and held his serve more comfortably, but the Swiss maestro produced some superb winners to take the breaker.
The Serb picked up an early service break in the second set and won it comfortably 6-4. In the third set the quality went up a gear, from outstanding to brilliant. The serving was amazing and in the ninth game Federer won his service to love with four aces. Then in his next service game there were three more aces against arguably the best returner in the game. Another tie break ensued and this time Djokovic produced the magic to take a two sets to one lead.
It looked to be all over when the Serb raced out to a 5-2 lead in set four.
The extraordinary fourth set and beyond
In the first three sets there was only one service break. That was about to change in the fourth.
- First game: Djokovic held serve
- second game: Djokovic broke Federer’s serve
- third game: Federer broke back
- fourth game: Federer was down 0-40, pulled back to deuce, but still lost the game.
Games then went with service to give the Serb a 5-2 lead, one game away from the title. But then there was an amazing change of fortunes. Federer survived a match point, broke Djokovic’s service twice, won five games in a row and took the set 7-5.
The high quality tennis continued in the final set. There were many lengthy rallies featuring powerful side to side exchanges, wonderful retrievals, delicate volleying from Federer and superb passing shots from Djokovic. The commentators were running out of superlatives and crowd was often left gasping. The Serb frequently raised his eyes to the heavens as if to say what do I need to do to beat this guy?
In the end he did, with a break of serve in the tenth game, and the two exhausted players slumped in their chairs.
The tributes flow
Around the world, the print and social media acknowledged that this was truly a great match. Pauline from Nashville neatly summed it up: Tennis the way it should be played and we don’t often see; no histrionics, no grunting, just perfection from both players.