WIMBLEDON, England 6 July 2014
Neither my status as an amateur tennis player nor my record as a performing arts critic would qualify me to comment on the truly remarkable Men’s Final of the Championships Wimbledon, played here earlier today at the All England Club. But I cannot resist the temptation, after observing the elegance of the physical and mental determination displayed by two giants of the sport, Novak Djokovic, and 7-time winner of this very tournament, Roger Federer. Their performance was one for the ages.
Mr. Djokovic would ultimately triumph over Federer with a 6-7(7), 6-4, 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-4 victory, but the mere scorecard in no way represents the drama that unfolded. The early play gave Djokovic a lead of two sets to one following Federer’s impressive tiebreaker win of the opening set. While those first three sets saw but one service break, the monumental battle of the fourth had all the crowd-pleasing excitement fans could hope for. Apparently losing the set at 5-2, Federer came roaring back to win five games straight and send the match to a deciding fifth set. His brilliant play included surviving one Championship Point by successfully challenging a service ace that had been called out.
But the determined Djokovic, after several falls on court and one medical time-out, would press on to victory for his second win (previously 2011) of the prestigious Wimbledon trophy. It almost seemed he had torn a page from the autobiography of the man he was unseating as #1 player in the world.
In Rafael Nadal’s book, “RAFA – My Story,” (co-authored with John Carlin / Hyperion Books 2011), Mr. Nadal, winner of the legendary 2008 Wimbledon Championship over Mr. Federer, observes as follows:
“When Federer has these patches of utter brilliance, the only thing you can do is try and stay calm, wait for the storm to pass. There is not much you can do when the best player in history is seeing the ball as big as a football and hitting it with power, confidence and laser accuracy. It happens, and you have to be ready for it. You can’t let yourself be demoralized; you have to remember — or you have to convince yourself — that he cannot possibly sustain that level of play game after game, that …he is human too, that if you stay cool and stick to your game plan and keep trying to wear him down and make him uncomfortable, he’ll leave that zone sooner or later. His mental intensity will slacken, and you’ll have your chance.”
So it was on a beautiful day at the All-England Club, when two champions played so brilliantly it seemed that both were winners.