Hey, friends. Not sure I can do this match justice with a post, but I’ll try. It was one of those matches you felt grateful just to be a part of. Certainly it was in the top three best Wimbledon finals we’ve had in recent years if not the best. There is an awful lot to be said about this match and it’s repercussions, but I’m gonna try to keep it as short as I can. This was obviously another tough loss to swallow for Federer and his fans, so let me start off with the good things that came out of the match. And I thought there were plenty. Ok, I know this loss is hard to come to terms with if you are a long time Fedfan. After all this time and tough losses in recent years, you wanted a kind of final deliverance. A fairy tale ending. A feeling that all the suffering was for a reason and worth it. And now you don’t have that feeling because Djokovic stole it away from you at the last minute.
What a letdown! Unfortunately, there is nothing I can say that’s gonna change the outcome of the match. It is what it is and we just gotta accept that. But we can look at the positives that came out of it moving forward. Yes, there is no guarantee that Roger will win another slam. That is the cold hard truth too. But given the way he competed and lost there is just as good a chance that he could win another one. That is probably the most encouraging thing coming out of this loss. Even though Roger lost this match, I thought the fourth set was the single most impressive set I’ve ever seen him play from a mental standpoint. He came back from 2-5 down, saved a championship point at 4-5, and won five straight games to take the set 7-5. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I had pretty much given up on the match after Djokovic got the break in the fourth set and finally consolidated.
I really thought that was it. But the way Roger fought back in that set not only tells you how much Wimbledon means to Roger, but also how good he is mentally. Hopefully, no one will ever say he is mentally fragile again, including myself. He showed and an awful lot of balls the way he came back and almost took the match from Djokovic’s grasp. I think as the years passed Roger lost a step and has declined in some aspects, but mentally I think he has improved and become more mature. Forgot about the fact that he lost for a second. He is playing against someone who is more than five years younger than him, and who is mentally and physically one of the best the game has ever seen. I don’t care what anyone says. That was an incredible performance from Roger. The closest you can come to being happy with losing.
In a lot of ways I feel it was a triumph despite the fact that Roger lost. It isn’t always about winning anyway. Sometimes it’s about the way you lost. I am 100% sure Roger left it all out there and couldn’t have tried any harder. What more can you ask for? Sometimes your best won’t be good enough and on those days you just gotta say too good to the other guy and move forward in faith that your fortunes are bound to change. You can’t win them all. I realize that people feel the window of opportunity is closing for Roger but given the way he competed I wouldn’t be worried about that. For one thing you know Roger will not quit after the way he played the last two weeks, and even though he may not have liked losing you just know he came too close to lose heart. Like I said, this match was still a victory in many ways.
Proud to be a fan of this fighter
It’s still the best I’ve seen him play since 2012 when he won Wimbledon the last time. Djokovic got back to his devastating mental peak in this match as I suggested might happen in my preview post, and it was still only just good enough to beat Roger. Djokovic is also back to world #1 and deservedly the best player in the world right now. Roger would be a fool to give up on winning slams after losing that closely to the best in the world. And I know he is not a fool and will keep trying. A lot of people will see this as Roger’s last chance to win a slam, but that doesn’t matter in the least. What matter is what Roger himself believes and I guarantee you he still believes 100% that he can win a slam. That doesn’t mean he will, but there is still a chance which means he can. He just has to get a little lucky with the draw and not have to battle the law of averages the way he did against Djokovic.
Going into this match my biggest worry was Djokovic’s recent record in slam finals. And the closer the match came the more unease I felt about it. The mental giant in Djokovic was lying dormant for some time now and it was his time to erupt again. I thought Djokovic was either gonna lose this match and be stuck on six slams forever or the mental giant in him would awaken and he would be back with a vengeance. To me Roger was battling more than an opponent, he was battling a universal law. As great as Roger is he threw everything he had at Djokovic, but Djokovic was immovable. The whole universe was on Djokovic’s side to win this, and even Federer can’t defy the universe. It was meant to be. The other good thing that came out of this match is the fact that Djokovic has found his game again which doesn’t bode well for Nadal to win more slams.
If Roger won then Djokovic may have remained stuck on six slams indefinitely, having lost five out of his last six slam finals. But you can bet he will win more slams now. This was huge for him after another French Open loss to Nadal. The magic is back and he is top dog again. Nadal won’t need five more slams to surpass Roger now, but where will four come from? Or three for that matter? Nadal is 28 and a grinder. It defies belief that he is still winning slams at 28. If it’s ‘modern science’ which allows him to still be going so strong after being a grinder and an early bloomer then even modern science must have limits. Everything works out for the best and this loss may just have been a blessing for Roger. If he won he just gave Nadal one more slam to win. But now that Djokovic won he may stop Nadal from winning several more slams.
Already I see Djokovic as a big favorite for the US Open and Australia next year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he finally completes the career slam at the French Open next year either. Now that would really spell the end for Nadal. It’s all very interesting to me anyway. I think I have grown a lot as a fan and a human being in recent years as well, just like Roger did. As always there is that parallel. I’m just not as biased and fanatical as I used to be. Yes this loss hit me hard but I’m already over it. I still see a lot of fans falling into that trap of bias and fanaticism but they will learn with time it’s not worth it to invest that much energy and emotion into something that you don’t control and someone you don’t know. I don’t want to be dependent on something I don’t control for my emotional well-being and happiness.
Instead I try to enjoy tennis as a whole, and I am happy for Djokovic that he won and got his mojo back. I can also see that indirectly it may have been the best thing for Roger. That’s why I wanted Djokovic in the final and not Dimitrov. If Djokovic won there would have been a plus side to it for Roger, while if Dimitrov won there would have been no positive for Roger. I haven’t said that much about the match yet. Roger won the first set 9-7 on the tie break which was the start I hoped for. At the start of the second set I thought it was crucial that Roger held serve after his serve was threatened, which he did. Yet Djokovic still managed to break at 1-1. He held on to serve and leveled at a set all. The quality of tennis was unbelievable and the Djokerer match up provided the best tennis as usual.
One for the ages
Djokovic was extremely solid from the base line as usual and targeted Roger’s backhand which held up well itself. The third set was always gonna be the key, and this is where Roger probably lost the match. In the tie break he went an early break down and actually got it back with a forehand that proved to be in by the smallest of margins after it was called out and Roger challenged. But then right away he goes and misses a regulation forehand wide again. This time Djokovic makes no mistake and he holds on to both his serve to win the breaker 7-4, and that after Roger steered wide another very makeable backhand slice. There was just that bit of a mental lull from Roger in that tie break which ended up costing him big time. That should really have been the point where he raised his game but instead it was Djokovic who remained solid and Roger blew it.
After Roger heroically won the fourth set I thought there would be a momentum shift and he would now go on to win the fifth set and his record 8th Wimbledon title, but Djokovic just remained immovable. In the early stages of the fifth set you could clearly sense a momentum shift. Djokovic had called for the trainer too and didn’t look happy, but Roger had not gotten the crucial break yet. At 3-4 with Roger serving he had to save three break points which were three more virtual championship points. The third one he saved with a serve-and-volley on a second serve then made a ridiculous pick up volley. Unbelievable. Having come through yet another extremely difficult moment it was time to get the decisive break. At 4-4 and 15-15 on Djokovic’s serve Djokovic threw up a defensive lob and Roger missed a fairly regulation overhead into the net.
They are never easy under those conditions but it was one you’d expect Roger to make, safe as he is overhead. Had he made it he would have put Djokovic under a lot of pressure because there was the feeling it could be the game where Roger breaks. But having missed his chance Djokovic made him pay in the next game by breaking himself and finally sealing the match 6-7(7), 6-4, 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-4. It was a match of very high quality tennis and incredible drama. It was a roller coaster ride right up until the end. Really you couldn’t have asked for a more fitting end to such a quality championships. I was just glad to be a part of it and thoroughly enjoyed the last two weeks. We saw some big upsets with the younger generation finally breaking through, and then we saw some very high quality stuff from Roger and Djokovic as well.
For Roger it has been a return to some of his very best tennis. He really played some very good stuff throughout and turned back the clock. It wasn’t the toughest draw he ever had, but it wasn’t the easiest either. He made it look a lot easier than it was. Only in the final was he found wanting by the smallest of margins by a great player who was at his peak. So in the end although the loss was a disappointment because Roger would have won a record 8th Wimbledon title, I still thought it was a very good two weeks for Roger and bodes well for the future. I think the two weeks also bodes well for the future of tennis. The youngsters made their move and there was another twist in the GOAT debate plot and in the big four dynamic. I am looking forward to see what unfolds in the tennis world until the end of the year, especially at the US Open.
And no I am not gonna quit blogging. If Nadal won Wimbledon I might have but thanks to Kyrgios that was avoided. I’m sure I have left things unsaid here but that’s what you are here for so go ahead and fill it in. I’d be interested to hear your take on this incredible final anyway. It’s a shame that it was only the second ever slam final we had between these two because it was one of the all time classics, one I will still visit a few more times on Youtube for highlights.
As always, onward and upwards!
Match stats: http://www.wimbledon.com/en_GB/scores/stats/day21/1701ms.html