What lies in the future for two of tennis' all-time greats?
What lies in the future for two of tennis' all-time greats?

What lies ahead for broken Fed, triumphant Djoker

For almost five hours Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer stamped the 2019 Wimbledon final with contrasting hues of brilliance and style.

By the end of an electrifying classic, there was consensus: this was a match that not only contained everything but is possibly the greatest ever played.

Base metrics don't always validate theories, but they do in this case.

The match broke a string of records - and Federer's heart.

At 4hrs, 57mins, it was the longest Wimbledon men's singles final in history.

It featured the first All England Club fifth-set tie-break.

It contained a record 35-stroke rally and the man (Federer) who shaped to win the match more often than the man who eventually claimed it (Djokovic) hit 94 winners to 54 - and lost.

Federer, at 37, might never have a better chance to win his favourite tournament.

He won 218 points to Djokovic's 204 but, just as Federer had done in his semi-final against Rafael Nadal, the Serb claimed the points that mattered most: the clutch points.

How this will impact both men remains to be seen.

Federer will be torched by defeat.

He employed exactly the right strategy, only to be betrayed the shot which has bankrolled his career - his fabulous forehand.

Twice on match point at 8-7, he erred with his most devastating weapon.

Firstly by missing a jammed drive wide and then by pushing an inviting approach straight into Djokovic's wheel house.

Had he been more proficient with either, Federer would have had a 21st major, leaving him six ahead of Djokovic and three more than Nadal.

 

Spain's Rafael Nadal has a stranglehold on the French Open, but has faded at the pointy end of other slams recently. Picture: AP
Spain's Rafael Nadal has a stranglehold on the French Open, but has faded at the pointy end of other slams recently. Picture: AP

Djokovic is desperate to catch both Federer and Nadal and, given a decent run with injury, probably will do so.

He is capable of going on extended streaks and will start tournament favourite everywhere apart from possibly the French Open.

At 32, he's five years younger than Federer and is in better physical condition than 33-year-old Nadal.

Four of the past five majors have fallen to the Serb.

There is no evidence to suggest he can't maintain the strike rate.

 

At his current rate, Djokovic is possibly only two years away from matching Federer. Picture: Getty
At his current rate, Djokovic is possibly only two years away from matching Federer. Picture: Getty

If so, he'll be in Federer's neighbourhood by 2021. By the middle of the next year, he should have the most weeks at No.1.

By then, the fallout from the greatest match ever played will be seen for what it is - a grand slam changing of the guard.

Now all that remains to be seen is whether Djokovic can get to 21 majors.

Chances are he will and rightly be regarded as the GOAT (greatest of all time).