Wimbledon sees Federer fall in 5 sets to Djokovic

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Wimbledon sees Federer fall in 5 sets to Djokovic


Novak Djokovic

LONDON - A game away from a third Wimbledon championship and ninth Grand Slam title, Novak Djokovic sized up a 108 mph serve from Roger Federer and stretched to smack a cross-court forehand return winner.

Two points later, Djokovic again took the measure of a serve from Federer, this one at 123 mph, and delivered a down-the-line backhand for another return winner. After this one, Djokovic bellowed.

“I roared because I felt like that’s the moment,’’ Djokovic would say later. “Now is the time for me to close this match out.’’

One forehand winner later, he did. For the second year in a row, Djokovic solved Federer’s superb serve in the final at the All England Club. And for the second year in a row, Federer’s bid for a record eighth championship at the grass-court tournament ended with a defeat against Djokovic.

This time, the match was as even as can be through two sets, before the No. 1-seeded Djokovic grabbed a hold of it and wouldn’t let go, beating No. 2 Federer 7-6 (1), 6-7 (10), 6-4, 6-3 Sunday thanks to brilliant returning.

“It feels, obviously, good when you make a return winner out of Roger’s serve on the grass,’’ Djokovic said, “but it doesn’t happen too often.’’

Over the past three seasons, Federer has reached two Grand Slam finals - both at Wimbledon, both against Djokovic, both losses.

“You sort of walk away empty-handed. For me, a finalist trophy is not the same,’’ a grim-faced Federer said.

At Wimbledon in 2014, Federer won 88 of 89 service games through the semifinals, then was broken four times by Djokovic in the five-set final. This fortnight, Federer won 89 of 90 service games entering the final but was then broken four times.

“It takes a little bit of everything: recognizing the moment, having the good intuition, following your instincts of where the serve is going to go, being in the right balance,’’ Djokovic said. “I mean, it’s not that easy, especially with Roger’s precision and accuracy.’’

Djokovic’s serve was stout, too: He saved six of seven break points. On a windy afternoon, Federer was simply not the same height-of-his-powers player who defeated Andy Murray in the semifinals. Pressured by Djokovic’s body-twisting ability to extend points, Federer committed 35 unforced errors; Djokovic made 16. Federer and Djokovic have played 40 times; each has won 20.

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