Rain delay was key turning point, says disappointed Roger
DEFENDING champion Novak Djokovic won a third Wimbledon title and a ninth grand slam crown yesterday, ruthlessly shattering Roger Federer’s bid for a record eighth All England Club triumph.
World No 1 Djokovic won 7-6 (7/1) 6-7 (10/12) 6-4 6-3 to add this year’s Wimbledon title to the Australian Open he captured in January. It was a cathartic moment for Djokovic just a month after his heartbreaking French Open final defeat against Stan Wawrinka – a loss that denied him the only major title he has yet to win.
“It’s a big challenge playing against Roger. A lot of players of my generation have looked up to him and followed his lead,” Djokovic said.
“I knew coming on the court that Roger is going to play like he always plays, at his best when it matters the most. He makes you work hard every single point.”
For 33-year-old Federer, it was a bitterly disappointing end to his bid to become the oldest Wimbledon champion of the Open era.
The 17-time major winner has now gone three years since his last grand slam triumph, at Wimbledon in 2012.
Federer felt it was a brief third-set delay caused by light showers that proved the key turning point.
Having won a thrilling second set tie-break to level the match, Federer had just dropped his serve to fall 3-2 behind when the rain came.
But the weather improved quickly and within 20 minutes the court covers were taken off, leaving Federer feeling slightly flustered as tournament officials hurried to get the players back on court.
“I think maybe the rain came at a bad time for me. Maybe if it came earlier or
much later, it would have been better,” the world No 2 said.
“The way it was, I couldn’t take advantage of it, even though I had a love-30 game shortly after I came back.
“It was a little bit of a rushed rain delay. Out, back on. Try to speak to your team, try to relax, and at the same time stay warm. It’s not like hectic, but it’s not the usual rain delay you have.
“They told us they were going to try to get us back out there as quick as possible,” he said.
Federer was also puzzled by Wimbledon chiefs’ decision to delay the post-match trophy presentation while the centre court roof was closed due to more rain.
“It was awkward, you know, having to shut the roof. You take a shower. You come back for the ceremony,” Federer said.
“I was like, ‘Give it to Novak’. It’s his moment. OK, fine. Let’s go take a shower, come back. So that was weird.”
But Federer was also full of praise for Djokovic.
“Novak played not only good today but the whole two weeks, the whole year, last year and the year before that,” he said.
Federer had his opportunities but he could only convert one of seven break points in the match and as he pressed, he committed 35 unforced errors to Djokovic’s 16.
Yesterday’s final was the pair’s 40th career meeting and 12th in the grand slams.
Djokovic was playing in his 17th major final compared to Federer’s 26th.
As has become the Serb’s tradition, he celebrated by pulling out a piece of centre court grass and eating it.