The 2019 Wimbledon final was a rollercoaster match that left Novak Djokovic in ecstasy and Roger Federer disappointed.
Federer squandered two almighty championship points against Djokovic and was left inconsolable in the aftermath of the marathon encounter.
Tennis is not like Football where you take the lead and defend it by running down the clock for the remainder of the game.
In tennis, an unassailable lead—be it a 5-1 lead in a set or two sets to love lead—is of no use until and unless you convert the key points that matter—set point or match point— that takes you through the finishing line.
In the recent past, if there is one player who has floundered at the finishing line, it is none other than Roger Federer. The number of times his opponents came back from the brink of oblivion to spoil Federer's party is just dumbfounding.
Who can the forget the two breakpoints Rafael Nadal had at 5-3 (15-40) in the fifth set when Federer was serving for the 2017 Australian Open Championship? However, Federer managed to weather the storm that day. There have been instances when Federer was not lucky.
Having said that, let us look at 5 critical instances when Roger Federer's serve didn't fire on all cylinders.
#5 2008 Australian Open semifinal - Serving for the first set at 5-4 vs. Novak Djokovic
After beating Djokovic in the 2007 US Open final, the duo would face-off each other at the 2008 Australian Open semifinal for the second consecutive time in a Grand Slam. The first set was on serve until it reached three-all when Federer got a breakpoint at 30-40 and converted it after Djokovic's loosely hit forehand sailed wide of the tramline.
Right from the start of the match, Djokovic's groundstrokes were powerful, pacey, menacing and causing all sorts of trouble for Federer.
At 5-4, Federer, serving for the set, lost the opening point as he hit his forehand onto the net. At 30-all, the Swiss master made an unforced error again by hitting his backhand into the net.
It was 30-40, a breakpoint for Djokovic to make it five-all. But Federer again uncharacteristically bundled his forehand onto the net and missed a great chance to win the first set.
This was a vital momentum shift as Federer's frame of mind was completely rattled and he lost the first set when Djokovic broke his serve at 6-5.
In the second set, the Serb was on a rampage as he broke Federer's serve twice to lead 5-1. Although Federer broke his service game at 5-1, he was merely delaying the inevitable as Djokovic won the second set 6-3.
The third set was tightly contested. Federer had two set points on Djokovic's serve at 6-5 but the Serb produced booming serves to bail himself out of trouble to take the third set into a tiebreaker.
The tiebreaker was again a tight affair. Federer took a 3-1 lead but a silly unforced error from the Swiss master brought the Serb back and he took the tiebreaker 7-5.
Had Federer served well and held his service game at 5-4 in the first set the story of this match might well have been different.
Match result – Djokovic won 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5)
Match duration – 2 hours and 26 minutes