By Jane Voigt
One single tear rolled down Roger Federer’s face, as newly crowned Champion Novak Djokovic walked Centre Court holding the Wimbledon’s trophy politely engraved, “The All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Championship of the World.”
Federer had hoisted it seven times prior to today’s loss, a loss he will remember if only for the love of this, his favorite tournament. He has lost no fans, no respect, and no confidence as a result, though, because this was a match for the ages … at least the best for the year.
“Roger’s a magnificent champion,” Djokovic told fans, tightly holding his hardware. “Thank you letting me win today.” The final score was 67(7) 64 76(4) 57 64.
Federer left it all on the court. As did Djokovic.
Federer believed. Djokovic got inspired, perhaps recalling Coach Boris Becker’s famous comment, “The fifth set is all about heart.”
Because in the fourth, the number-one seed had it wrapped up with a bow. He served for the title at 5-2. Then he squandered one championship point, as Mr. Wimbledon — Roger Federer — clipped off five consecutive games to even the match at 2-sets all.
Every single tennis fan in the world thought Djokovic had it won in four. But a match of this caliber was meant to be savored, to extend, to go the distance … five sets.
Federer had raised his game like a fine wine’s bouquet improves with time, and age.
“I couldn’t figure out how to break, although I kept going,” Federer told the press. “He was aggressive from the baseline. Not until the fourth did I figure it out.”
The risk taking from Djokovic was not over, though. His tank not empty. He had lost the prior three major finals he played in, like last year at Wimbledon when Andy Murray soothed the United Kingdom’s soul. Novak was not about to let this one go.
During his bathroom break, after he lost the fourth, he self-talked. Believe in yourself, his mind told him. But Federer seemed more alive in the fifth than at any point in his prior nine finals. He served lights out. He struck 29 for the match, 13 alone in set three, which he lost having only 4 errors to Novak’s 2. That’s how close this thing was.
Fans on Henman Hill, or Murray Mound if you will, roared with happiness as Roger steadied the match. Red Nike “RF” hats jumped up, their owners’ mouths round in jubilation … ROGER!!!
Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Clive Owen, Samuel Jackson, David and Victoria Beckham sat in the Royal Box, Mrs. Beckham’s stiff upper lip more stalwart than either Royal who were prominently featured in the front row. They watched in anticipation of yet another challenging rally from the finalists.
Afterward, as Novak glad-handed in the clubhouse, Prince William and Princess Kate extended their welcome to the newly anointed champion. Then, Prince William with hands clasped, told Mr. Djokovic, “Many congratulations.”
Roger, too, bumped into the Royals. He wasn’t in the best shape when they met. “I wasn’t in a great state, just when I left court,” Roger said. “They were sweet to comfort me.”
Djokovic cried more than Federer in the end, which is not the norm. They were similarly moved by the occasion and it in context with the larger picture. Their families. Roger’s tear came when he looked at Mirka, his wife, and mother Lynette. They each held one of the twin girls: Myla Rose and Charlene Riva born at the end of July, 2009. Twin boys Leo and Leonard were a bit too young for this final.
“The nice ovations from the crowd lifted me up,” Federer said. He also said he would be back. And, “I’m disappointed not being rewarded with victory, but it was close.”
Roger didn’t put enough pressure on Novak for much of the match. “That was my biggest problem. That’s where I lost the match. If I had returned better, or he had helped me out a bit. That would’ve helped.”
Novak dedicated the match to his future wife, Jelena Ristic, who was not on hand. She is six months pregnant. He also dedicated the win to his family and team, but did not mention Boris Becker by name, which was odd. He was hired for matches like this one. Where Novak’s mind can, and has, gotten the better of him. Finally, Djokovic thanked his first coach, Jelena Gencic, who died last year.
The press, per usual, asked Roger if he thought this was his last Wimbledon. He will turn 33 the first week in August. Federer did not flinch, perhaps prepared for this, the question, the one that anticipates the words sports does not want to hear.
“You could have asked me that question in 2003,” Federer said. “You don’t know. You have to wait and see. There’s no guarantee you’re ever going to be there or not. Impossible to know. But last two weeks have given me confidence.”
Roger Federer also gave the world confidence that he will not retire. He will not give up. He likes what he doing. He loves it. And a record of 7-10 in Wimbledon finals isn’t quite so bad.
For all the new-comers that proved their worth over the last two weeks, the big four still dominate. They have won 36 of the last 38 Grand Slams.
Djokovic has now accumulated 7 Major titles; 2 from Wimbledon. Tomorrow, he takes over the number-one ranking. The last time he stood on that lofty peak was September, 2013.