LONDON — Novak Djokovic again proved the toughest nut for Roger Federer to crack, repelling all the Swiss threw at him in an epic duel to win a fifth Wimbledon crown in the longest singles final in the tournament’s 133-year history on Sunday.
The indefatigable 32-year-old withstood almost five hours of Federer brilliance, dredging his tank of mental and physical fortitude to prevail 7-6(5) 1-6 7-6(4) 4-6 13-12(3) in the first Wimbledon singles final decided by a tiebreak.
Serving for the match at 8-7 in a cliffhanger fifth set, Federer, three weeks before his 38th birthday, seemed poised to become the oldest man to win a Grand Slam singles title in the professional era and avenge back-to-back losses to Djokovic in the 2014 and 2015 Wimbledon finals.
But it was a case of so near yet so far as defending champion Djokovic, who must have felt he was playing most of the 15,000 fans as well as the 20-time Grand Slam champion over the net, fought off two match points before going on to snatch a 16th Grand Slam title.
Djokovic, who now leads Federer 26-22 head-to-head, is the first player since Bob Falkenburg in 1948 to win a Wimbledon men’s singles final having saved a match point and he described his victory as the “most mentally demanding” match he had ever been involved in.