Novak Djokovic beats Roger Federer in Centre Court classic

Novak Djokovic battled past Roger Federer in the longest Wimbledon final in history to match Bjorn Borg by winning his fifth title.

In one of the most dramatic matches the All England Club has ever witnessed, Djokovic defied a crowd screaming for his opponent by becoming the first player to win a singles match on a deciding tie-break.

Djokovic had saved two match points when Federer served for victory at 8-7 in the deciding set and went on to take it 7-6 (5) 1-6 7-6 (4) 4-6 13-12 (3) after four hours and 57 minutes.

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Wimbledon men's singles final
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Wimbledon men's singles final
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic poses with the trophy as he celebrates winning the final against Switzerland's Roger Federer REUTERS/Toby Melville
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates with the trophy after winning his Men's Singles final against Roger Federer of Switzerland during Day thirteen of The Championships - Wimbledon 2019 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic is presented the trophy by Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge after winning the final against Switzerland's Roger Federer REUTERS/Toby Melville
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Novak Djokovic of Serbia holds the trophy as Roger Federer of Switzerland walks past after winning his Men's Singles final against Roger Federer of Switzerland during Day thirteen of The Championships - Wimbledon 2019 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Switzerland's Roger Federer with the runners up trophy after losing the final against Serbia's Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Toby Melville
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Switzerland's Roger Federer with the runners up trophy after losing the final against Serbia's Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Toby Melville
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the final against Switzerland's Roger Federer REUTERS/Toby Melville
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the final against Switzerland's Roger Federer REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the final against Switzerland's Roger Federer REUTERS/Toby Melville
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Switzerland's Roger Federer during the final against Serbia's Novak Djokovic Laurence Griffiths/Pool via REUTERS
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the final against Switzerland's Roger Federer REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Novak Djokovic celebrates defeating Roger Federer following the men's singles final on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
Serbia's Novak Djokovic lifts his trophy after defeating Switzerland's Roger Federer during the men's singles final match of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Sunday, July 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
The Duchess of Cambridge on court for the trophy presentation on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the final against Switzerland's Roger Federer REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Novak Djokovic with the trophy after beating Roger Federer in the mens singles final on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge before presenting the trophies for the final between Serbia's Novak Djokovic and Switzerland's Roger Federer REUTERS/Toby Melville
Jul 14, 2019; London, United Kingdom; Roger Federer (SUI) in action during his men's final match against Novak Djokovic (SRB) on day 13 at the All England Lawn and Croquet Club. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Roger Federer (top) and Novak Djokovic in action in the mens singles final on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
Roger Federer (top) and Novak Djokovic in action in the mens singles final on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer pose for a photo at the net prior to their Men's Singles final on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic (bottom) in action in the mens singles final on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
Roger Federer during the men's singles final against Novak Djokovic on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
Roger Federer (top) and Novak Djokovic in action in the mens singles final on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic (top) in action in the mens singles final on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
Roger Federer (top) and Novak Djokovic in action in the mens singles final on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic (top) in action in the mens singles final on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action during the final against Switzerland's Roger Federer REUTERS/Toby Melville
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action during the final against Switzerland's Roger Federer REUTERS/Toby Melville
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action during the final against Switzerland's Roger Federer REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Switzerland's Roger Federer in action during the final against Serbia's Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Switzerland's Roger Federer in action during the final against Serbia's Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action during the final against Switzerland's Roger Federer REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action during the final against Switzerland's Roger Federer Adrian Dennis/Pool via REUTERS
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action during the final against Switzerland's Roger Federer Adrian Dennis/Pool via REUTERS
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Switzerland's Roger Federer in action during the final against Serbia's Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action during the final against Switzerland's Roger Federer REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action during the final against Switzerland's Roger Federer REUTERS/Toby Melville TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Switzerland's Roger Federer during the final against Serbia's Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Toby Melville
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action during the final against Switzerland's Roger Federer REUTERS/Toby Melville
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts during the final against Switzerland's Roger Federer REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge
Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates defeating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut during a men's singles semifinal match on day eleven of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Friday, July 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
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Federer had hoped to follow up his emotional semi-final victory over Rafael Nadal by completing the double over his other great rival for the first time at a grand slam and fought back well having twice been a set down but this will be one of his most painful losses.

Djokovic has now won four out of the last five major tournaments, taking his overall tally to 16 and making Federer's record of 20 seem ever more within reach.

The historical importance was a key theme of this final, with 37-year-old Federer staring at perhaps his last chance to put further distance between himself and his younger rivals.

Nadal is only two adrift and showing no sign of letting his iron grip on the French Open slip, while Djokovic has been open about the fact he is playing for history.

That perhaps played a part in this strange match, which rarely hit the heights in terms of sustained quality yet had enough plot twists for a feature-length thriller, even before its extraordinary deciding set.

Novak Djokovic came out on top after four hours and 57 minutes
Novak Djokovic came out on top after four hours and 57 minutes (Victoria Jones/PA)

Federer was the better player for all of the first four sets, with Djokovic's game strangely off colour apart from his serve, but played two poor tie-breaks either side of a set that his opponent barely turned up for.

The fifth set was scarcely describable, finally ending in the 25th game when Federer, who had been chasing a ninth title, framed a forehand into the crowd.

The tie-break at 12-12 was introduced following last year's epic semi-final between John Isner and Kevin Anderson yet had not been used in a singles match until this contest.

After 47 previous matches, 25 of them won by Djokovic, there were no secrets between these two and the first set was fascinating to watch as Federer sought to take his opponent out of his baseline comfort zone.

Federer, who had not beaten his rival since 2015, used the short backhand slice to pull Djokovic forward, mixed up the pace and threw in a number of drop shots.

He had a break point in the third game, and was two points from the set at 4-5, 0-30 but could not take either chance.

Errors then cost Federer after he turned a 1-3 deficit in the tie-break into a 5-3 lead, a mistimed backhand dropping into the tramlines on Djokovic's first set point.

It must have been a painful set to lose for the Swiss but in double-quick time he was level at one-set all after an uncharacteristic mental lapse from his opponent.

A slip behind the baseline in the opening game perhaps unsettled Djokovic, who appeared to decide not to expend any unnecessary energy after going two breaks behind.

The most unexpected factor was how poorly Djokovic was returning but he somehow stayed with Federer through the third set.

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Royals and celebs at Wimbledon men's singles final
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Royals and celebs at Wimbledon men's singles final
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Benedict Cumberbatch (R) speaks with Tom Hiddleston in the Royal Box as they watch the Men's Singles final between Roger Federer of Switzerland and Novak Djokovic of Serbia during Day thirteen of The Championships - Wimbledon 2019 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Also gracing the royal box was Avengers star Tom Hiddleston
Also gracing the royal box was Avengers star Tom Hiddleston
Also gracing the royal box was Avengers star Tom Hiddleston
Also gracing the royal box was Avengers star Tom Hiddleston
Hana Cross and Brooklyn Beckham on Centre Court for the Men's Finals on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Cambridge on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
Stan Smith hands the Duchess of Cambridge a shoe during the men's singles final on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Kate Beckinsale on Centre Court during Men's Finals Day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images) (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Judy Loe and Kate Beckinsale attend Men's Finals Day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images) (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, John Bercow on Centre Court on Men's Finals Day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images) (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge in the Royal Box on Centre court during Men's Finals Day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images) (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, John Bercow on Centre Court on Men's Finals Day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images) (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Sophie Hunter, Benedict Cumberbatch and Katherine Jenkins attend Men's Finals Day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images) (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
British actor Benedict Cumberbatch (L) talks with Welsh mezzo-soprano singer Katherine Jenkins as they watch Switzerland's Roger Federer playing Serbia's Novak Djokovic during their men's singles final on day thirteen of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 14, 2019. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read LAURENCE GRIFFITHS/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Benedict Cumberbatch (R) speaks with Tom Hiddleston in the Royal Box as they watch the Men's Singles final between Roger Federer of Switzerland and Novak Djokovic of Serbia during Day thirteen of The Championships - Wimbledon 2019 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Tom Hiddleston, Sophie Hunter and Benedict Cumberbatch on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Sophie Winkleman, Princess Michael of Kent and Lord Frederick Windsor on Centre Court during Men's Finals Day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images) (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge in the Royal Box on Centre court during Men's Finals Day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images) (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Gemma Arterton and Rory Keenan on Centre Court on Men's Finals Day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images) (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Poppy Delevingne and James Cook attend Men's Finals Day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images) (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Claire Foy on Centre Court on Men's Finals Day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images) (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Kendall Jenner on Centre Court on Men's Finals Day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images) (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Claire Foy on Centre Court on Men's Finals Day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images) (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Cliff Richard attends Men's Finals Day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: James Middleton and Alizee Thevenet in the Royal Box during Men's Finals Day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Andrew Levitas and Katherine Jenkins in the Royal box during Men's Finals Day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Poppy Delevingne attends Men's Finals Day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 14: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrives ahead of the Men's Singles Final on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon on July 14, 2019, in London, England. (Photo by Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
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He created one set point in the 10th game with a glorious half-volley but Djokovic's serve – the one part of his game that was working well – bailed him out.

The Serbian was beginning to look very frustrated but he forced another tie-break and again it was Federer who unexpectedly crumbled.

  • Roger Federer - 20
  • Rafael Nadal - 18
  • Novak Djokovic - 16
  • Pete Sampras - 14
  • Roy Emerson - 12
  • Rod Laver - 11
  • Bjorn Borg - 11
  • Bill Tilden - 10

Given Federer had never won a five-set match against Djokovic, that left him with a serious mountain to climb, but, just when it seemed he might finally be taking control, his level dropped again and Federer surged into a 5-2 lead.

Djokovic finally forced a break point, and converted it, to give himself a chance of rescuing the situation but Federer served out the set at the second opportunity, the partisan crowd roaring their approval.

History still said Djokovic was the favourite and, after Federer saved three break points in the third game of the decider, he made the breakthrough to lead 4-2.

But he could not cement it and on the match went, the tension growing with each point.

Djokovic was in trouble at 5-5, 15-30 but produced a diving volley winner, then Federer was two points from defeat three times in the next game but held on.

Federer, who turns 38 next month, looked to have made the crucial breakthrough when a forehand pass gave him an 8-7 lead and the chance to serve for the match.

His serve carried him to 40-15 but he netted a routine forehand on the first chance and was then passed by Djokovic, who went on to break back.

The world number one saved two more break points at 11-11 and that proved to be Federer's final chance as Djokovic surged ahead in the tie-break and this time there was no way back.

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