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Djokovic defeats Federer in five-set thriller to win Wimbledon title

Photo: CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic outlasted Roger Federer in five tight sets to win his second title at Wimbledon.

LONDON -- Top-seeded Novak Djokovic defeated seven-time champion Roger Federer 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4 on Sunday to win his second Wimbledon title and seventh Grand Slam crown. Djokovic, the world No. 2, will retake the No. 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal on Monday.

The high-quality match -- which ended when Djokovic broke Federer in the only service break of the fifth set -- lasted three hours and 56 minutes and featured a combined 143 winners and only 56 unforced errors.

In only the second Grand Slam final between the longtime rivals, Djokovic bounced back from a crushing finish to the fourth set to win his first major title since the 2013 Australian Open. The 27-year-old Serb led 5-2 in the fourth, but Federer saved a match point with an ace and then broke Djokovic to extend the match. In fact, Federer, the fourth seed, swept the final five games of the set to force a fifth. 

"That's why he has 17 Grand Slams, because at important times he comes up with those shots," an emotional Djokovic said after fending off the Federer comeback. "After losing the fourth set it wasn't easy to go on and win the fifth set. I don't know how I did it."

Djokovic stopped a three-match losing streak in major finals. He celebrated by kneeling down to kiss the Centre Court turf and putting a few blades of grass in his mouth.

"It was a great final," Federer said. "I couldn't believe I made it five [sets]. Wasn't looking too good there."

Federer now leads the head-to-head 18-17.

"I respect your career and everything that you've done," Djokovic said to Federer during the trophy ceremony. "Thank you for letting me win today."

Djokovic dedicated the title to his first coach, Jelena Gencic, who died last year at age 76.

After the match, Federer's 4-year-old twin daughters, Charlene and Myla, excitedly sat in the players' box waving to their father and, possibly, giving some perspective to the 32-year-old, who had come so close to capturing a record eighth Wimbledon title.

"I don't know if my daughters quite understand, but it's nice that they came out," Federer said. "I felt the love out here, so thanks a lot. See you next year."

Game-by-game analysis below

Fifth set

1:09 p.m. ET | Novak Djokovic defeats Roger Federer 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4 to win his second Wimbledon title. 

All it takes in this situation is one slight wobble on serve, and that's precisely what happened to Federer. Serving to stay in the match, Federer hits two poor errors to fall behind 0-30 and he can't recover. Down two match points at 15-40, Federer nets a backhand and Djokovic throws up his hands in celebration. 

1:03 p.m. ET | Djokovic holds, leads 5-4*.

Djokovic has three break points and he can't break! He hits a fantastic backhand passing shot off a great approach shot from Federer to earn two break points at 15-40. Federer saves both. Djokovic, however, earns another break point when Federer whips a midcourt backhand into what he thinks is the open court, but Djokovic is there to redirect the pass down the line. 

Serve and volley on second serve? Sure, why not, says Federer, who shows off exquisite touch to win the point. What a gutsy call down break point. Federer holds. 

Djokovic holds at 15, but again Federer with a missed opportunity. Up 0-15 he has a difficult but makable overhead that he pounds into the net. 

Federer now serving to stay in the match. 

Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images
12:52 p.m. ET | Djokovic holds, leads 4-3*.

Per the ITF, the last player to save championship point and go on an win Wimbledon was Robert Falkenberg, who saved three match points down 3-5 in the fifth in 1948. So this would be the first time in the Open Era at Wimbledon if Federer wins.

Federer holds easily to 3-all and again has a look for the break. He gets break point, but Djokovic puts a good approach deep to the Federer backhand corner and the Swiss can't get it over the net. Djokovic holds. 

Roddick should know. He went toe-to-toe against Federer in the 2009 final and lost 16-14 in the fifth set.

Oof. Too soon, Andy.

Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
12:44 p.m. ET | Djokovic holds, leads 3-2*.

Federer holds and then earns a small chance at 0-15 on Djokovic's serve but he misses a volley. Djokovic hasn't been able to get a first serve in during this game, but he gets Federer on the run and finishes at the net for 40-15. Then he finally gets a first serve in and it's an ace. He holds. 

This match has everyone captivated:

12:34 p.m. ET | Djokovic holds, leads 2-1*.

Clean holds to start the final set. Remember, there's no fifth-set tiebreaker at Wimbledon. Honestly, after the Isner-Mahut epic, I think we should all know that by now. 

On the changeover, Djokovic calls for the trainer to treat his right leg, which he twisted during a fall late in the second set. Federer gets up from his chair and stands at the baseline impatiently. 

Fourth set

12:23 p.m. ET | Roger Federer wins five straight games and save match point to win the fourth set 7-5.

Once again, from a break up Djokovic loses five straight games for the second straight match. Nervy close by Federer, but he gets it done. Centre Court is absolutely buzzing.

Do numbers even matter at this point? That was a huge mental letdown from Djokovic in that set after building what looked like an unassailable lead. To Federer's credit, he started hitting bigger and attacking more from the baseline.

Well, here are the stats through four sets more than three hours of play:

12:20 p.m. ET | Federer breaks, leads *6-5. 

Continued struggles to hold for Federer, who faces championship point. He fires an ace and Djokovic is again pleading to the sky for some help. The Swiss holds and it's 5-all.

So we saw what Federer did under pressure. What will Djokovic do? Well, he ... wobbles. Poor service game that includes a double fault and errors and he's down 0-40. Federer breaks on his third chance and he'll now go from being down championship point to serving to force a fifth set. Holy cow.

12:10 p.m. ET | Federer breaks, trails 5-4*.

Federer holds and Djokovic steps to the line to serve for the championship at 5-3. The Serb falls behind 0-30 and Federer's pumping his fist to stay positive. Nice one-two punch from Djokovic gets him on the board. He then evens up with a deep second serve that catches Federer off guard and he puts the forehand into the net. 

At 30-all, Federer unleashes a midcourt backhand -- Djokovic was peppering him with shots to that wing -- and he's got break point at 30-40. He converts as Djokovic goes tumbling to the ground. We're back on serve. 

12:02 p.m. ET | Djokovic breaks, leads 5-2*.

After all the easy holds in this match, we've now had three successive breaks. Djokovic gets it right back by breaking Federer at 30. 

Chair tipping aside, this has been one of the most composed matches I've seen Djokovic play under pressure in a long time. Very positive emotions today by his standards. He's zoned in on what he has to do and refuses to let anything distract him. 

Federer gets to 15-30 on Djokovic's serve but goes big on a forehand and puts it into the net. He throws his head back in exasperation. His offensive forehand has not been there for him today. Hard to win without a kill shot, especially against a baseliner of Djokovic's quality. 

Fantastic point from Djokovic at 30-all. He holds his position on the baseline and gives Federer nowhere to go with the ball. Then a service winner to close it out. He's a game away from the title. 

Photo: Pool/Getty Images
11:52 a.m. ET | Djokovic breaks and Federer breaks back, trails 3-2*.

Trouble for Federer. He falls into a 0-40 hole after a particularly poor forehand error that BBC commentator Jimmy Connors calls "loose." The way Djokovic is serving and playing, these feel like match points. Federer saves all three with good attacking play. Djokovic earns another break point, though, and this time he converts. Medium-length rally but Federer just can't find a ball he's comfortable pulling the trigger on. He tries to run around his backhand to fire an inside-out forehand, but he sails it long and wide.

Djokovic turns to his box and puts up a silent fist pump and a few sighs of relief. He can taste it. 

Two errors from Djokovic and just like that he's down 0-30 as he tries to consolidate this break. The crowd is willing Federer on and he plays a great attacking point to earn two break points at 15-40. He breaks with a stunning crosscourt forehand winner from behind the baseline. The crowd roars, he leaps, Djokovic knocks over his chair in anger. 

It's on. 

Photo: Pool/Getty Images
11:42 a.m. ET | Djokovic holds, leads 2-1*.

Djokovic serves first in the fourth set, just one set away from his second Wimbledon title. Relatively easy holds for both, though Djokovic takes another bad tumble but he's OK. We know he's OK because on the very next point he fires a forehand return winner that lands smack on the sideline. 

Third set

11:34 a.m. ET | Novak Djokovic wins the third set, leads 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (4).

Holds to start the tiebreak and then Federer decides to serve and volley at 2-all and it's a bad decision. Poor approach shot and Djokovic passes him easily down the line. Twelve successful passing shots for the Serb so far. Djokovic consolidates the mini-break and it's 4-2 on the changeover. 

Federer gets the minibreak back with a big forehand that clips the baseline. The ball is initially called out, Hawk-Eye showed it in, and Keothavong gives the point to Federer. Djokovic accepts the call fairly quickly.

An errant forehand from Federer gives Djokovic the break back and he earns set point with a big forehand of his own at 5-4. He then converts immediately as Federer slices a backhand wide. 

That's a big steal of a set for Djokovic, who was getting beaten on the numbers for much of it. Federer served 83 percent in that set and still lost. Djokovic hit just two unforced errors in that set and Federer hit four. Two of those unforced errors for Federer came in that tiebreak and that spelled his doom. 

Full match stats so far:

11:28 a.m. ET | Djokovic holds, tied 6-6*. 

Quite the turn of events as Federer tried to serve to go up 6-5. At 40-30, he thinks he's hit an ace and everyone is walking to the chairs for the changeover. Even the military personnel sitting courtside are trying to make a quick run to the restroom. But Djokovic smartly challenges and the ball was wide. On the replay, Djokovic wins the point and then earns a break point with a smart sneak into the net. Federer saves with a big serve that the Serb can't handle.

Djokovic earns another break point and again Federer saves with a big serve. Huge scream of "Allez!" as he watches the return drift long. He's now encouraged himself in English, German and French. As is his wont. 

Game point for Federer and he pounds his 20th ace. Djokovic responds with a hold at 15. We're going to a tiebreak. 

11:12 a.m. ET | Federer holds, leads 5-4*. 

Nine games in the books, just one unforced error between these two, from Djokovic. In fact, each player has hit more than 40 winners and fewer than 15 unforced errors for the match. If there's not much to say, it's because this is just high-quality grass-court tennis. The rallies are short and the serving is efficient.

 

Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images
11:08 a.m. ET | Federer holds, leads 4-3*. 

Holds aplenty. Based on how the stats are shaping up in this set, the momentum is with Federer. He's winning every single stat column. Through seven games, zero unforced errors for Federer.

The Swiss had a slight opening at 0-15 on Djokovic's serve but an overrule on a call that should have given him 0-30 forces a replay of the point and Djokovic wins that one. He goes on to hold. 

11:00 a.m. ET | Federer holds, leads 3-2*. 

More holding. Through five games, neither man has hit a single unforced error. Federer is rebounding with a better set. He's serving at 79 percent in the set, while Djokovic has dipped to 60 percent. Federer is also returning a bit better. 

10:55 a.m. ET | Federer holds, leads 2-1*. 

Clean holds to start the third set. Both men took a bathroom break after the second. This is now a best-of-three shootout, and that break was good to reset themselves. 

Second set

10:45 a.m. ET | Novak Djokovic wins the second set 6-4 to level the match at 6-7 (7), 6-4.

At 30-all, Djokovic hits a terrible midcourt forehand that he tried to put into the open court but sails it wildly. Break point for Federer but Djokovic saves it with a one-two punch -- doesn't miss that midcourt forehand this time -- and then an ace to earn set point. 

He earns an overhead in the rally -- two actually -- and puts it away. 

We're level at 1-all. Djokovic improved his serving in that second set. He went from 60 percent first serves in the first set to 71 percent in the second set. Federer actually flipped those stats, serving 71 percent in the first and dropping to 60 percent in the second. That serving helped Djokovic save the one break point he faced in that set, while Djokovic was able to get himself into the rallies, earn three break points and convert one.  

How about this photo:

10:40 a.m. ET | Federer holds, trails *5-4.

With Djokovic grabbing the early break this set has lost some of the tension and the players aren't playing at the level they were in the first. No matter. Both hold and Djokovic will try and serve out the set. 

10:33 a.m. ET | Federer holds, trails *4-3.

Quick games. Quick holds. 

Photo: Pool/Getty Images
10:28 a.m. ET | Federer holds, trails *3-2.

Serving to consolidate the break, Djokovic goes from 40-15 to deuce. Federer earns his first break point of the match but he puts a backhand into the net. He earns another break point a point later but Djokovic saves it with a great backhand winner. Djokovic grits out the hold. Message sent by Federer there, though. 

Federer holds at 15. 

Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard meanwhile is heading home to Canada and is clearly on Team Fed:

10:17 a.m. ET | Djokovic breaks, leads *2-1.

Quick look at the first set stats and they all narrowly favor Djokovic. Neither man saw a single break point in the set and Djokovic actually out-aggressed Federer by a slim margin, hitting 18 winners to Federer's 16 and hitting 4 aces to Federer's 3. He also held his serve far more easily. But on the points that mattered in the tiebreaker, Federer came through.

Djokovic gets a look at his first break point of the match right out of the gate, but a netcord redirects his ball well wide. He clasps his hands together and pleads to the heavens for a bit of luck. On the next point the Serb hits the deck for the first time this match. Hard fall but he seems ok, though he's stretching out his left ankle. Federer goes on to hold. Still broken just once this tournament. 

Djokovic holds and again gets a look on the Federer serve at 0-30. He's also called for the trainer to be ready on the next change of ends. He gets to deuce. Federer throws in his second double-fault of the match to give up another break point. Djokovic breaks with a cross-court backhand pass. 

First set

10:03 a.m. ET | Roger Federer wins the first set 7-6 (7).

Into a tiebreak we go:

Federer gets the minibreak as Djokovic comes to the net and Federer makes him play a low volley that he sends long. He races out to a 3-0 lead. The points go with serve and the two change ends with Federer leading 4-2. 

Djokovic gets the minibreak back right after the changeover, as Federer tries to send a backhand slice down the line and it drifts wide. Djokovic holds to 4-all.

Federer serves at 5-all and rifles in a serve wide that Djokovic slams back with a great, deep forehand return. Federer almost seems shocked and shanks a forehand into the net. Set point Djokovic on his serve.

Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images
Federer saves set point and gets the minibreak with an incredible forehand that loops up and down and lands into the corner, surprising Djokovic. That totally looked like a mishit. The two change ends at 6-all. 

Serving at 6-all, Djokovic puts a soft second serve into the box and Federer duffs the backhand chip volley into the net. Poor miss there. But he follows it up with two service winners to earn set point on Djokovic's serve. 

Djokovic puts a backhand down the line into the net and Centre Court erupts. No question who the Brits are backing today. Federer saves two set points and takes the first.

9:51 a.m. ET | Federer holds, tied 6-6*.

Another look for Djokovic at deuce on Federer's serve as the Swiss tries to stay in the set. At deuce Federer stands tall again, he slices and plays some measured tennis until he opens up the court and gets Djokovic on the run and finishes at the net. Confident play again in a tight moment from both men. This has been a solid opening set. 

Federer is going to the slice more often now, which is the right play against Djokovic. Dimitrov drove him crazy with it, and though Federer's doesn't skid as low as Dimitrov's, it's still very effective. It's an important shot in the Federer arsenal today.

At 30-all, Djokovic again comes up with the goods on serve. He hits a service winner and then what looks like an ace to hold. But Keothavong overules and Djokovic doesn't challenge. He should have. It was in. 

No matter. Djokovic holds. 

Photo: GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
After the changeover Federer holds at 30. Tiebreak. Just to repeat, the winner of the first set has won 10 of their 12 best of five meetings. Five their Slam matches has had a first set tiebreaker. Federer holds the edge 3-2. 

9:37 a.m. ET | Djokovic holds, leads 5-4*.

Another deuce game for Federer but once again he goes on to hold. The wide serve has been saving him early. On game point he goes down the tee, earns a short ball, and he thumps a curling forehand for a winner. Big "Come On!" from him. 4-all and a big game coming up for the Serb. He's held easily but Federer's ability to hold through two deuce games may have pumped up his confidence.

First long rally of the match at 0-15 on Djokovic's serve. 21 stroke rally with some cagey slicing leaves the crowd laughing, but Federer gets a short ball and goes for the flat backhand cross court and it hits the net. But on the next point Djokovic gets a short ball at the net and misses way long to fall behind 15-30. He levels with his third ace of the match and earns a service winner to earn game point. Then another ace down the tee to clean it up. 

Federer should have challenged that last ace. It was wide. 

Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage
9:29 a.m. ET | Djokovic holds, leads 4-3*.

Federer holds at 30. So far has his first service percentage above 70 percent. Djokovic holds at 15 as well. 

9:24 a.m. ET | Djokovic holds, leads 3-2*.

Very clean start from Djokovic. He's not serving over 50 percent on first serves but he's been very clean off the ground. The two exchange holds. Djokovic has yet to hit seven winners already and zero unforced errors. He's still just lost one point through three service games. 

9:18 a.m. ET | Djokovic holds, leads 2-1*.

The winner of the first set has won 10 of their 12 meetings in best of five matches. This is only their second match on grass, with Federer beating Djokovic here in four sets in 2012. 

Djokovic opens with a clean hold at 15 and gets a look at deuce on Federer's serve. He doesn't get further, as Federer throws in some good one-two punch tennis off his serve to get on the board. 

Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage
According to Darren Cahill, Federer has made more approaches to the net at this year's tournament than any year other than 2003 when he won his maiden title. That's something to keep an eye on here. It's all about whether Federer can get the first strike in the rallies and getting to the net would facilitate that and put pressure on Djokovic to come up with the pass. Always a dicey proposition against the Serb, who is fantastic on the run.

The Serb holds at love. He's lost just one point on his serve in the first two games. 

9:10 a.m. ET | Warm up. 

It's an overcast day in London as Federer and Djokovic stride onto Centre Court. The roof is open for now though showers could come later in the afternoon. Theoretically, the closed roof should help Federer, but I actually think the open conditions are better for him. Djokovic can get rattled by wind, as we saw against Grigor Dimitrov, and anything that can get into Djokovic's head will help Federer. 

James Keothavong is in the chair for his first Slam final. Great reward for him after having to deal with Fabio Fognini's antics last week. He's a good and fair umpire. The Royal Box is packed out with stars, celebrities, and dignitaries. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are in attendance (that would be Wills and Kate to the rest of us), as are David Beckham, Samuel L. Jackson, Bradley Cooper, and Chris Hemsworth. Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall are also in the house. 

Djokovic will serve first. 

Ready? Play. 

Pre-match

No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic goes toe to toe with No. 4 seed Roger Federer in the Wimbledon men's final on Sunday. ESPN will air the match live starting at 9 a.m. ET. 

Djokovic and Federer are playing for much more than the Wimbledon title on Sunday. If Djokovic wins, he would take over the No. 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal and avoid losing his record-tying fourth straight Grand Slam final. If the 32-year-old Federer prevails, he would extend his record to 18 Slam titles, join Nadal as the only men to win a single major eight times and become the oldest men's Wimbledon champion in the Open era.

Federer leads the head-to-head 18-16. The two have met only one other time in a Grand Slam final, Federer's straight-set victory at the 2007 U.S. Open.

​Federer has been broken only once in 89 service games entering the final. He's also lost only one set. Djokovic needed five sets to beat Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals and four sets to defeat Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals. 

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