If there is a tennis player who has been able to threaten the tyranny of Roger Federer under the London grass, that is no other, without a doubt, that Novak Djokovic. The Balkan was not born as a player designed to play on grass, and he had to adapt his tennis to gradually dominate the surface … but he has succeeded and this has left in the memory of the spectators a number of incredible memories. Defending champion of a title that has not been played this 2020, with a balance of 72-10 and five titles In the Cathedral of tennis, we review the ten unforgettable moments from Serbian in Wimbledon.
1. The first great comeback in Grand Slam: We recently wrote an article in which we break down why Djokovic is the best player in the Big-3 when the game is extended to five sets. He is also the owner of unforgettable comebacks, and in fact, at Wimbledon he accumulates an incredible 90% effectiveness when the game is extended to the fifth set.
We analyzed the statistic in which Djokovic is the best of the Big-3, albeit with a surprise guest with great records.
In 2005, a beardless Serb ranked # 185 in the world reached the third round of Wimbledon. Before, however, he had left on the way to Guillermo García-López in the first victory to five sets of his career, in addition to being the first time in which the Serb traced a disadvantage of two sets to zero. That 3-6, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3) and 6-4 was Novak’s first show of mental strength, a forgotten match that will always have a special place in his carrer.
2. The first semifinal at Wimbledon: In 2007, Djokovic conquered his first major title at the Miami Masters 1000. That year his first great experience would also take place under the spotlights of the Cathedral, reaching his first semifinals after passing two very hard tests on grass: Lleyton Hewitt in four worked sets and a great match against Marcos Baghdatis in the quarterfinals (7-6 (4), 7-6 (9), 6-7 (3), 4-6, 7-5). That match lasted five hours, no more and no less, which left the Serb physically touched before a semifinals in which he took a set from Nadal before retiring in the third set.
3. A small turning point: After two years in which Novak did not improve his results, in 2010 he returned to the semifinals. It was the worst year for the Serbian once established in the elite, with many problems at the service and great instability, both tennis and mentally. However, there is a forgotten party that could be a small sample of what was to come.
First round against an opponent as small as “cheat”, a Olivier Rochus Expert at tickling any opponent on grass. His slice, his precision in sending low balls and his tenacity put Nole on the ropes … in the first round. Two sets to one against, the ceiling had to be closed and in those 30 minutes of rest, Djokovic changed the chip and he forcefully dominated the last two sets to sign a very important victory, one of those you get only when your status is to be very, very good. A year later his golden age would begin.
4. Promotion to number one: he 2011 It was brilliant. A simply incontestable first half of the season left Djokovic on the launch pad to reach the top of the ranking for the first time in his career. And that came after the semifinals against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in a duel of very good tennis level and several great moments that mathematically confirmed the rise to number one of the Serbian, regardless of the result in his first Wimbledon final several days later.
5. And the first title came: It also came in a tremendously forceful way. Novak Djokovic dominated his first Wimbledon final from cover to cover, moving like a cat across the London grass and constantly attacking Nadal’s fortresses. The Serbian’s great responses to Manacorí’s cut backhand and his way of opening sharp angles made the final a bit easier, completing one of his best performances at Wimbledon (6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3) and conquering for the first time the champion gold trophy.
6. The epicity of his duel against del Potro: perhaps, a posteriori, Djokovic laments how that semifinal match in 2013 it developed. However, at that time, the Serbian and his good friend Juan Martín gave us one of the most epic duels of the last decade at the All England Tennis Club. A duel from power to power, a constant give and take of great blows from the bottom of the track in which Novak and the Tower of Tandil exhausted each other during 4 hours and 43 minutes. 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (3), 6-3 for Novak, who came out victorious but dropped his level significantly in the grand final against Andy Murray, probably diminished by the incredible physical effort of the semifinals.
7. The beginning of the change in one of his great victories: in 2014 Djokovic had hired Boris Becker to form a couple with Marian Vajda and the results had been contradictory. Some titles had fallen, but the hesitant performance in Australia against Wawrinka and his drop in performance in the Roland Garros final against Nadal cast some doubts about the new pairing and, above all, about the Serb’s mental strength.
Wimbledon 2014However, it was the beginning of the Serbian golden age, an undisputed domain that extended to Roland Garros 2016. After emerging from the abyss against Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals, the final against Federer was a spectacular duel that almost escaped the hands of Nole, who had a break advantage in the fourth set. He wasted it, the stands roared and Novak, above all, kept his composure and rekindled the wick on his head in the fifth set to put the end point to a duel that, had he lost, would have left him mired in a deep state of mistrust.
8. Wimbledon 2015, confirmation: many could have doubted Novak’s strength behind the stick he suffered just weeks before. Stan Wawrinka had knocked him out in an unforgettable Roland Garros final for the neutral spectator, as well as one of the most painful defeats of the Serb’s career. Would you be able to show poise on your next big date? Novak cleared all doubts and signed two weeks at the highest level to conquer his third Wimbledon, going back in between another game where he was 0-2 against Kevin Anderson and overcoming in the final one of the most hostile stands of his professional career against Roger Federer.
9. The resurrection before Nadal: After conquering practically everything that can be conquered, injuries and doubts seized the Serbian. In 2018, Novak arrived at the London event out of the top-20 and bearing a loss to Cecchinato at Roland Garros that had even made him rethink playing the grass tour.
The doubts were dispelled and the Serbian reached the semifinals that they had everything: a stratospheric level of tennis, a suspension, the controversy to dispute what was left of the match with a roof and hot moments with unforgettable results. That break ball saved in the fifth set with a forehand passing was saved in the retina of many, and after five hours of play, Djokovic defeated Nadal, 10-8 in the fifth set, en route to his fourth crown at the All England Tennis Club. A balmy crown that prompted Djokovic to establish a new period of undisputed dominance.
10. 8-7, 40-15: the last edition of Wimbledon left us with one of the moments most iconic in the history of tennis. The umpteenth demonstration of Djokovic’s mental power, that to beat him you have to kill him twice. Just when Roger Federer He was caressing a new title with his hands, giving an effect blow and defeating one of his great rivals in the final, in his garden, for the first time, Novak emerged.
He emerged thanks to a new right passing, similar to the one signed in 2018, when he seemed dead and the world was against him. He lengthened the match until it became the first final in history to reach the final tie-break with 12 equals in the fifth set. There, the Serb knew himself the winner and executed the coup de grace with a parallel backhand in the tie-break that he celebrated with composure, as well as after finishing off an unforgettable Wimbledon for him, in which he would certify his fifth title in the Cathedral and his 16th Grand Slam crown.
And you, Which one do you prefer?