Wimbledon, England (SportsNetwork.com) – Novak Djokovic is again the Wimbledon champion, and once again he denied Roger Federer a piece of history.
The world’s top-ranked player captured his third title on the famed lawns of the All England Club on Sunday and for the second year in a row kept Federer from a record eighth championship in the London suburb.
After winning the 2014 Wimbledon crown in five thrilling sets over Federer, Djokovic finished off the 17-time Grand Slam champion in four sets this time around with a 7-6 (7-1), 6-7 (10-12), 6-4, 6-3 triumph on Centre Court.
“This is what you dream of,” said Djokovic, who continued his tradition of eating some of the grass after clinching the title. “You envision yourself on Centre Court and playing the biggest tournament in the world and holding this trophy.”
Djokovic, who also won the Wimbledon title in 2011, earned his ninth career Grand Slam championship and second of 2015. He beat Andy Murray for the Australian Open crown and lost to Stan Wawrinka in the final at the French Open.
Federer fell to 7-3 all-time in Wimbledon finals and hasn’t won a major championship since claiming the last of his record 17 at Wimbledon in 2012. He remains tied with Pete Sampras and William Renshaw for the most Wimbledon titles.
“Novak played great today … and for the last two weeks and all year and last year,” Federer said dryly while drawing laughs from the crowd in an on-court interview after the trophy ceremony. “He deserved it.”
Djokovic became the third player in the Open Era to successfully defend his Wimbledon title against the same opponent. Bjorn Borg beat Jimmy Connors in 1977-78, while Federer did it twice — knocking off Andy Roddick in 2004-05 and Rafael Nadal in 2006-07.
It wasn’t easy on Sunday for Djokovic, who fell behind early in the first set and was denied on seven set points by Federer in the second.
Federer held serve at love three times in the first set and also broke at love for a 4-2 lead, but he could not consolidate the break as Djokovic immediately returned the favor. Federer then had a couple of chances to take the first set, but Djokovic fought him off with some well-timed serves.
A Djokovic double fault and a backhand error gave Federer a set point in the 12th game, but a big serve saved it. Federer then charged the net on the next point off a second serve and a winning volley set up a second set point that Djokovic saved with an ace. Djokovic won the next two points to force the tiebreaker, which he dominated with the first three points followed later by three straight Federer errors, including a double fault to end it.
The second-set tiebreaker was anything but one-sided.
Djokovic, who saved a pair of break points in the fifth game of the second set and failed to convert a set point in the 10th game, had six more chances to win the set in the tiebreaker. Federer came up big each time.
Trailing 6-3, Federer won three straight points — the last with a fantastic running backhand that Djokovic couldn’t return. A Federer serve and volley saved another down 7-6 and two long forehands by Djokovic off lengthy rallies kept the Swiss superstar alive before Federer finally prevailed on his second set point with another serve and volley.
The shift in momentum appeared to slightly rattle Djokovic early in the third.
Federer had a break point in the second game of the third set, but failed to convert, then couldn’t hold a 40-15 lead in the next game. Djokovic rallied and set up a break point with a brilliant running volley and Federer went back to the serve and volley game, but missed a forehand at the net to give Djokovic a 2-1 edge.
Each player held serve before a 25-minute rain delay. When play resumed, Djokovic appeared the fresher of the two.
Federer managed to stay in the set on serve, but couldn’t overcome the early break and Djokovic closed it out with a love service game.
Djokovic earned the only break he would really need in the fifth game of the fourth and took advantage of a second serve with a deep forehand that Federer returned into the net for a 3-2 edge.
Federer was unable to dent Djokovic’s serve from there, in fact winning only three points on the Serb’s first serve after the rain delay, and Djokovic earned a pair of break points in the ninth game. He needed only one, blasting a forehand winner into the open court to close the match.
“He was better on the bigger points,” Federer noted. “He played great. I didn’t play bad. That’s how it goes.”
Djokovic evened the all-time series against Federer at 20 wins apiece, beating him for the third time in four tries this year — all finals. Djokovic also won in Rome and Indian Wells, while Federer emerged victorious in Dubai.
“It’s always a great privilege playing against Roger,” Djokovic added. “It’s a great challenge. He’s a great champion. I was aware Roger was going to play like he always plays, his best. He makes you work hard and earn every single point. He’s not going to give you the match.”
Djokovic also improved to 9-8 all-time in Grand Slam finals and equaled the number of Wimbledon wins by his coach Boris Becker, who won his first 30 years ago and followed with titles in 1986 and ’89.
Becker and Federer’s coach, Stefan Edberg, engaged in three straight Wimbledon finals from 1988-90 with Edberg winning twice.
Djokovic earned his 54th career title and his sixth this year. He improved to 48-3 for the season.