Even though losing is part of the game, sometimes it is not only unexpected but also hard to take. The 2019 Wimbledon final saw two of the greatest male tennis players of the modern era pitted against each other. Despite Roger Federer holding match-point at some point in the fifth and final set, Novak Djokovic fought back to claim his fifth Wimbledon and sixteenth Grand Slam title.
While in the past, there have been moments where a player has brushed off a loss and came back even stronger than before, it appears Roger Federer could still be reeling from his Wimbledon setback.
It was not to be for Roger Federer
Roger Federer was on course to become the second player to beat Rafael Nadal and Djokovic in the same major tournament, after dispatching Nadal in the semi-final, but it was not to be.
In the first set, Djokovic gained an advantage early on, but Federer fought back to lead 5-3, forcing Djokovic to recover from 0/30 at 4-5. However, errors from Federer allowed Djokovic to win the first set in a 7-6 tie-breaker.
The second set was all Federer, he won the set in a convincing 6-1 fashion. Federer’s service placement variation in the third set kept the Serbian guessing, but Djokovic survived, losing only one of the first three points at 4-4.
Despite Federer escaping at 5-4 with Novak Djokovic at 30/30, and hitting four more winners than the Serb did, unforced errors during the tie-break proved costly for the Swiss. Djokovic went on to claim the third set 7-6.
Roger Federer gained a 5-2 advantage in the fourth set, and though Djokovic dug deep to reduce the gap to 5-4, Federer held up his serve to finish at 6-4. With each player having two sets to their names, the tie went to a fifth set.
The fifth set saw Djokovic and Federer having their share of the advantage at different moments. Djokovic gained a 4-2 lead at the start of the set but Federer, implementing an aggressive approach, clawed his way back to tie 4-4.
Djokovic missed the opportunity of two break points at 4-4 and while an error at 5-5 left him a bit anxious, he claimed and maintained the advantage. At 7-7, a forehand crosscourt helped Federer claim an 8-7 lead. Though his serve got him to two championship points, errors gave Djokovic the lead once more.
At 12-12, and with the pressure mounting, an error from Federer, gave Djokovic the advantage which he held till the end, winning the fifth set in a heartstopping tie-breaker.
The loss was a painful one for Federer to take. While his supporters have backed him, some pundits are not as hopeful. Federer made a return to the court this month, but it was not the return he had been hoping for. He lost to Andrey Rublev in the round of 16 in straight sets at the Cincinnati Open.
On top of that, Federer has not looked sharp at the beginning of both of his matches thus far at the U.S. Open. He’s dropped the first set to both opponents. Of course, he went on to dominate them in the following sets. But, against better opponents, he can’t afford such a slow start.
Despite all this, Roger Federer is still one of the favorites to win the 2019 US Open. Novak Djokovic however, leads the list. Rafael Nadal is second-favorite after his Canadian Open win earlier this month. Nadal comes into the US Open having won the French Open, advanced to the Wimbledon semi-final and reached the Australian Open final.
Having won the US Open five consecutive years between 2004 and 2008, Roger Federer has not won it since. Two of his rivals have won it three times each in that time. Despite his US Open title drought and disappointing Wimbledon setback, Roger Federer is third-favorite to claim his twenty-first Grand Slam title.
Which one of the top three players will it be? Could we see another Federer, Djokovic classic at this year’s US Open? All we can do is wait and see.