Roger Federer thinks being "knocked down" by Andrey Rublev in the Western & Southern Open prompted him to get his "act together" and could enhance his chances of winning the US Open.

Russian Rublev consigned the 20-time grand slam singles champion to a straight-sets defeat in the third round in Cincinnati last week.

Federer believes that early exit in his last tournament before the final grand slam of the year could prove to be a blessing in disguise as he eyes a first Flushing Meadows triumph for 11 years after losing a classic Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic last month.

"What I'm very proud of is I've had a very consistent last year and a half, two years, ever since my back locked up on me in Montreal. I struggled here as well, struggled for quite a while." said the Swiss legend.

"I've been playing well. Playing well in slams recently, which has been great. I think also the win over Rafa [Nadal] in the semis was big for me. Also the finals, the way I played that in Wimbledon, is going to give me some extra confidence.

"I'm happy where my game is at. Cincinnati might be a good thing that I lost early, who knows. It's maybe one of those things that sometimes needs to happen, like when I won at the Australian Open, went to Dubai, lost first round in 2017, then went on to win Indian Wells and Miami.

"Maybe the same thing, I played a great Wimbledon. Needed to get knocked down in Cincy, get my act together, train hard. That's what I did. I'm ready for the US Open. The draw is out, see which qualifier I will play.

"It's going to be a tough tournament to win, no doubt about it. I feel like I'm part of that group who can do it."

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova face a mouthwatering first-round tie at the US Open, while Novak Djokovic is on the same side of the men's draw as Roger Federer.

Williams will be a heavy favourite given her 19-2 head-to-head record over Sharapova, though it will be the first time the rivals have gone up against each other in New York.

The pair last met on court in the 2016 Australian Open quarter-finals, where Williams was victorious, with a last-16 tie at the 2018 French Open a non-starter due to the American suffering a pectoral injury.

Sharapova has not defeated her illustrious foe in a match since 2004 and faces a monumental challenge against Williams, who was beaten in the final 12 months ago by Naomi Osaka.

Top seed Osaka's bid to defend her title at Flushing Meadows begins against Anna Blinkova, while Kiki Bertens is a potential quarter-final opponent.

Second seed Ashleigh Barty, who made a major breakthrough at Roland Garros, opens up against Zarina Diyas and faces a potential last-eight meeting with Williams.

Karolina Pliskova (3) and Simona Halep (4) each face qualifiers in round one, the latter on a potential last-eight collision course with Petra Kvitova (6). 

Defending men's champion Djokovic, aiming to win a third slam of 2019, faces the unheralded Roberto Carballes Baena first but could be set for a daunting run at Flushing Meadows.

Fifth seed Daniil Medvedev, a man in form having reached the finals in Washington and Montreal while also winning the title in Cincinnati, is Djokovic's projected quarter-final opponent, while Federer may stand in the way in the semis.

Five-time champion Federer faces a qualifier first up, while on the other side of the draw Rafael Nadal has a tricky first-round tie with John Millman – who upset Federer in round four a year ago.

Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev could all prove potential road blocks for Nadal in the latter stages.

The final grand slam tournament of the year is almost here, as the US Open begins at Flushing Meadows on Monday.

Novak Djokovic, the dominant force in men's tennis, will hope to defend his title, while Naomi Osaka is looking to rediscover her best major form at the scene of her first triumph.

Meanwhile, veterans Roger Federer and Serena Williams have records in their sights in New York.

With the help of Opta, we take a look at the key numbers heading into this year's US Open.

 

Men's singles

4 - Djokovic has won four of the past five grand slams – Rafael Nadal claiming the only other title at this year's French Open.

2 - World number one Djokovic is bidding to become just the second man, after Federer (2004 to 2008), to defend his Flushing Meadows title in the 21st century.

35 - The oldest men's US Open champion in the Open Era was Ken Rosewall in 1970 at 35 years, 10 months and 11 days. Federer will be 38 at Flushing Meadows.

5 - Three men have won the tournament a record five times since the sport went professional: Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras and Federer.

8 - Djokovic only has three US Open titles but has played the joint-most finals in the Open Era (eight, along with Ivan Lendl and Sampras).

0 - The US Open is the only one of the four men's grand slams that has not seen a player claim the title without dropping a set in the Open Era.

61 - At least one of Djokovic, Federer or Nadal has made the semi-finals of every major since Wimbledon 2004, a streak of 61 tournaments.

 

Women's singles

3 - Having won back-to-back majors in the shape of last year's US Open and then the Australian Open, Osaka has not been past the third round at her past two grand slams, losing her opener at Wimbledon.

1 - But across the previous 16 grand slams, Osaka is the only female to have won consecutive titles.

33 - Williams, like Federer in the men's tournament, is aiming to become the oldest women's US Open champion of the Open Era at 37. The record belongs to 2015 champion Flavia Pennetta at 33 years, six months and 18 days.

2 - Simona Halep could become the first European since Kim Clijsters (2010 US Open and 2011 Australian Open) to win consecutive grand slams.

24 - Williams has 23 grand slam crowns, the most of the Open Era, and another would see her draw level with all-time record holder Margaret Court.

10 - However, the American has not won any of the past 10 majors - her longest run without victory since 2002.

17 - The women's championship has been won without dropping a set on 17 occasions in the Open Era, most recently by Williams in 2014.

Roger Federer crashed out of the Western & Southern Open after a "perfect" performance from Andrey Rublev, while Novak Djokovic moved through.

Federer, a seven-time champion in Cincinnati, was stunned by Rublev in his first meeting with the 21-year-old Russian.

Djokovic, meanwhile, had no such troubles, keeping his title defence on track with a comfortable win over Pablo Carreno Busta to reach the quarter-finals.

 

FEDERER FALLS TO PERFECTION

Rublev, a qualifier at the ATP Masters 1000 event, stunned Federer 6-3 6-4 in just over an hour.

The Swiss 20-time grand slam champion praised Rublev, who converted three of four break points in his win.

"If I play Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, I know more or less what they are going to do or can do. That's different with a player you play for the first time," Federer said, via the ATP Tour website.

"It's maybe a small advantage to have over us, but regardless, you've still got to hit the corners, hit the lines, keep it going. He did exactly that. He was really perfect today. It was a great performance."

Rublev next meets fellow Russian Daniil Medvedev after the ninth seed thrashed Jan-Lennard Struff 6-2 6-1.

DJOKOVIC DOMINATES

Djokovic made it eight straight wins at the tournament by brushing past Carreno Busta 6-3 6-4 in 90 minutes.

The Serbian controlled the first set before being tested in the second, but Carreno Busta failed to take his chances, losing to Djokovic for the third time in as many meetings.

Djokovic will face Lucas Pouille, who upset eighth seed Karen Khachanov 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 6-2.

BAUTISTA AGUT, GOFFIN INTO LAST EIGHT

Roberto Bautista Agut, the Spanish 11th seed, needed just an hour to thrash Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1 6-2.

He will meet Richard Gasquet after the 33-year-old Frenchman proved too good for Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

The other quarter-final is between David Goffin and Yoshihito Nishioka after their wins over Adrian Mannarino and Alex de Minaur respectively.

Meanwhile, there will be a doubles showdown between the Murray brothers after Andy and Feliciano Lopez moved into the quarter-finals, where Jamie and Neal Skupski await.

Roger Federer slumped out of the Western & Southern Open as the world number three suffered a shock defeat to qualifier Andrey Rublev.

A beaten finalist in Cincinnati last year, Federer had breezed past Juan Ignacio Londero in the previous round but the 38-year-old turned in a below-par performance on Thursday.

Rublev, who had already knocked out Stan Wawrinka at the tournament, broke the seven-time Cincinnati champion twice in the first set, with some exquisite shots keeping the 20-time grand slam winner out of his rhythm.

Federer improved in the second set, but it was Rublev who forced the first crucial break to take a 4-3 lead, with the 21-year-old holding his nerve to serve out a famous victory.

Federer started badly by losing his opening service game and while he converted a third break point to get back on level terms, Rublev repeated the trick to go 3-1 ahead.

Federer rallied to hold serve but could not handle Rublev's power, the Russian wrapping up the first set within 29 minutes.

Swiftly realising he had to up his level, Federer was clinical on serve at the start of the second set, though he could not force an opportunity to break his opponent.

The world number 70 took full advantage, eventully breaking Federer to edge himself 4-3 ahead.

Federer held his opponent off in the next game, yet Rublev did not let the opportunity of an upset slip from his grasp, clinching a 6-3 6-4 victory on the first of two match points before shedding tears on court.

Rublev will now face Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals after the world number eight's win over Jan-Lennard Struff, while Federer's exit paves the way for world number one Novak Djokovic to retain his crown.

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev were surprise second-round casualties at the Western & Southern Open, where Andrey Rublev set up a showdown with a seven-time champion.

Tsitsipas was sent packing following a shock defeat to Jan-Lennard Struff, while Zverev was surprisingly upstaged by Miomir Kecmanovic in three sets.

Fellow seed Kei Nishikori also exited the ATP Masters 1000 tournament but Rublev earned a meeting against Roger Federer.

 

STRUFF STRUTS HIS STUFF IN TSITSIPAS UPSET

Tsitsipas was tamed by Germany's Struff, who claimed a 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (8-6) victory after two hours, 14 minutes in Cincinnati.

The Greek fifth seed managed to save three match points from 6-3 down in the third-set tie-break, but Struff was not to be denied his fifth win in his past 10 matches against top-10 opposition.

Struff's reward is a last-16 clash against Daniil Medvedev, who beat Benoit Paire 7-6 (7-2) 6-1.

 

ZVEREV TALLIES 20 DOUBLE FAULTS IN EXIT

World number six Zverev surrendered a lead as he went down 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 6-4 to Kecmanovic.

Zverev struggled after winning the opening set, recording a career-high 20 double faults to fall to 0-5 at the Masters event.

Kecmanovic, who reached his maiden Masters quarter-final in Indian Wells, will play 11th seed Roberto Bautista Agut for a spot in the last eight.

Spaniard Bautista Agut outlasted Frances Tiafoe 6-3 3-6 6-1. Meanwhile, sixth seed Nishikori lost to fellow Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka 7-6 (7-2) 6-4.

 

FEDERER AWAITS RUBLEV AFTER WAWRINKA WIN

From one Swiss to another. Russian Rublev dispatched Stan Wawrinka 6-4 6-4 to book a date with Federer.

Rublev saved all five break points against three-time grand slam champion Wawrinka.

The 21-year-old can now look forward to a first meeting with last year's runner-up Federer.

The likes of Karen Khachanov, David Goffin, Alex de Minaur and Richard Gasquet also progressed to the last 16.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have joined fellow legend Novak Djokovic on the ATP player council.

Jamie Murray, Sergiy Stakhovsky and Robin Haase stepped down from the council following a meeting at the All England Club prior to Wimbledon.

Djokovic also acknowledged he considered joining the walkout but decided to stay on to try and resolve unfinished business.

The world number one will now be joined by fellow stars Federer and Nadal, who along with Jurgen Melzer, have replaced Stakhovsky, Murray and Haase.

"They will begin their roles with immediate effect and will serve until the end of the existing term which runs through to Wimbledon 2020," an ATP statement read.

"The position of coach representative, following the resignation of Daniel Vallverdu, is to be determined in due course."

Tim Henman believes Novak Djokovic can top Roger Federer's record grand slam haul after the Serbian beat the Swiss great in a historic Wimbledon final.

Djokovic retained his title at the All England Club with a 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) victory last Sunday.

The world number one saved two match points before winning the longest singles final in the grass-court grand slam, in the first edition of the tournament since deciding-set tie-breaks were introduced at SW19.

Djokovic has won four of the last five major titles to move four behind Federer's record tally of 20 and two short of Rafael Nadal's total.

Henman, a six-time grand slam semi-finalist, thinks 32-year-old Djokovic could go on to surpass Nadal and Federer's haul of major triumphs.

The Brit, a HSBC ambassador, told Omnisport: "It's going to be very interesting to watch. He's [Djokovic] five years younger than Federer so he's got much more time on his side.

"The level of play that Djokovic is at right now, it really wouldn't surprise me if he did overtake Federer in the future."

Henman feels Federer, who turns 38 next month, has at least one more grand slam victory in him.

Asked if he thinks the epic final in London was Federer's last chance to win another major, he said: "I don't think so. I think it's very difficult to write these guys off that are playing at such a high level.

"Federer's not going to be around forever but I think it's important we all enjoy him while he's still playing."

Henman does not consider the classic showdown last weekend to be the greatest final he has seen, even if it ranks high up with his favourites.

He said: "It's got to be up there as one of the best finals of all time. I still think for me the 2008 Wimbledon final [between] Nadal and Federer was probably the best match I've ever seen but this was a close second."

 

- Tim Henman was talking on behalf of The Open patron HSBC. HSBC are once again offering free golf to children and their friends via the HSBC Hour which are taking place at over 500 clubs in the UK and Ireland. For more information, please visit: https://www.theopen.com/patrons/hsbc

Novak Djokovic has described his sensational Wimbledon final victory over Roger Federer as "a match to remember forever".

Djokovic claimed his 16th grand slam title on Sunday, overcoming fellow great Federer in the longest men's singles final at the All England Club.

For the first time, a fifth-set tie-break at 12 games all was required to determine the winner, with the defending champion eventually prevailing after saving two match points earlier in the contest.

In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Djokovic wrote: "It was a match to remember forever. [A] match that had everything in it. [A] match that transcends our sport. I am eternally grateful to be part of it. Major respect to Roger for a titan fight."

After struggling for form and fitness in the wake of his 2016 French Open triumph, which ensured he held all four slam titles at once, Djokovic has dominated at the highest level once again since winning Wimbledon last year.

He has now won four of the last five slams, only failing to succeed at Roland Garros.

"It has been quite a tennis journey for me in the last 12 months. Coming back from injury and trying to get to the level of tennis which would allow me to compete for slams," Djokovic added.

"Self belief, resilience, dedication and major support from my closest people in life allowed me to be where I am today. I am blessed and I am aware of it.

"Wimbledon, it has been a great pleasure to make history and share the court with [a] legend of our sport once more. I will keep on dreaming to still be part of these memorable moments in the future. By the way, grass tasted like never before."

Roger Federer has the most grand slams, Rafael Nadal eventually might and Novak Djokovic has them both covered head-to-head.

So go part of the arguments amid endless debates about who the greatest men's player of all time is.

Those discussions will persist for decades to come, like there is somehow a right answer to separate Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, who have won 54 grand slam singles titles between them.

Djokovic edged Federer in a classic Wimbledon final on Sunday, winning 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) in a match lasting just shy of five hours.

That took the 32-year-old up to 16 major singles triumphs, closer to Federer (20) and Nadal (18).

But will that final tally even matter as much as some think? Pete Sampras, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and Andre Agassi are all titans of the Open Era. They won 49 between them, and only Agassi completed a career Grand Slam by claiming the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

Djokovic, Nadal and Federer are all-time greats. The sports world is blessed to have the trio still going head-to-head, producing matches like the latest one between the Swiss maestro and Serbian star at the All England Club.

The final major tally will never be enough to settle the conversation and for good reason: namely, how different the greats are.

The ever-popular Federer is loved by purists for the brilliant serve, effortless movement and glorious shot-making. Nadal? The forehand, intensity and previously unseen – and probably never to be seen again – dominance of a major at the French Open. Djokovic? The best returner, turning defence into offence so easily he has found a way to beat Federer and Nadal more often than not.

Why must one be the greatest when all three are the greatest at different, admirable aspects?

The debate about Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will rage for decades to come, too, and they are also so different that both can, and should, be enjoyed, if some can for one moment put aside Ballons d'Or, trophies, goals, assists and whatever other numbers suit their views.

Even if just for a moment, forget tallies and appreciate greatness, because the Big Three in men's tennis deserve it.

Roger Federer is not worried about Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal potentially usurping him as the most successful player in the history of men's tennis following his Wimbledon defeat.

World number one Djokovic won a five-set, near five-hour marathon 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) on Centre Court on Sunday to claim his fifth Wimbledon crown and the 16th grand slam title of his career.

Federer has the most in men's singles, with 20, while Nadal sits between the pair with 18.

Ahead of his 38th birthday next month, Federer was asked for his thoughts on being overhauled by one or both of his younger rivals, but the Swiss insisted it was not something that drove him to continued success.

"I take motivation from different places," he told a media conference. "Not so much from trying to stay ahead because I broke the record, and if somebody else does, well, that's great for them.

"You can't protect everything anyway. I didn't become a tennis player for that. I really didn't.

"It's about trying to win Wimbledon, trying to have good runs here, playing in front of such an amazing crowd in this Centre Court against players like Novak and so forth. That's what I play for."

Federer's defeat – at the end of a final set which went to a tie-break after he and Djokovic were level at 12-12 – brought back memories of his epic 2008 decider against Nadal at the All England Club, when the Spaniard prevailed over five classic sets.

"Similar to '08 maybe, I will look back at it and think, 'well, it's not that bad after all,'" Federer reflected.

"For now it hurts, and it should, like every loss does here at Wimbledon. I think it's a mindset. I'm very strong at being able to move on because I don't want to be depressed about actually an amazing tennis match.

"This one is more straightforward maybe in some ways because we didn't have the rain delays, we didn't have the night coming in and all that stuff. But sure, epic ending, so close, so many moments.

"Sure, there's similarities. But you got to go dig, see what they are. I'm the loser both times, so that's the only similarity I see."

Novak Djokovic felt Sunday's epic Wimbledon final against Roger Federer was the most mentally challenging match of his career as he called on all his psychological strength to edge a five-set thriller.

World number one Djokovic prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) after almost five hours on Centre Court on Sunday.

Djokovic rescued two championship points at 8-7 down in the final set before going on to claim his 16th grand slam title with a fifth triumph at the All England Club.

"It was probably the mentally most demanding match I was ever part of," Serbian star Djokovic told a news conference.

"I had the most physically demanding match against [Rafael] Nadal in the [2012] finals of Australia that went almost six hours. But mentally this was different level, because of everything.

"I obviously try to play the match in my mind before I go on the court. I probably could not play this kind of scenario.

"I always try to imagine myself as a winner. I think there is a power to that. Also there has to be, next to the willpower, strength that comes not just from your physical self, but from your mental and emotional self. For me, at least, it's a constant battle within, more than what happens outside.

"You need to be constantly playing well throughout five hours if you want to win a match like this. I guess there is an endurance part. But I think there is always this self-belief.

"You have to keep reminding yourself that you're there for a reason and that you are better than the other guy.

"As hard as the moment is that you are in, the more you have to remind yourself, the more you have to talk to yourself. That's at least in my case."

Victory saw Djokovic move to within four of Federer's record number of men's singles grand slam wins, but the 32-year-old is not setting an explicit target to overhaul the Swiss maestro.

"Whether I'm going to be able to do it or not, I don't know," Djokovic said. "I mean, I'm not really looking at age as a restriction of any kind for me at least. What I said on the court, I really meant it: Roger really inspires me with his effort at his age.

"It just depends how long I'm going to play. It depends not only on myself, it depends on circumstances in life. I'm not just a tennis player, I'm a father and a husband. You have to balance things out."

The greatest tennis player of all time squandered two championship points. Match point had to be replayed after a line-call blunder.

And Wimbledon had its equivalent of a Super Over when the final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic went down to a deciding set tie-break at 12-12 for the first time.

Was there some sort of competition between London's great sporting spectacles on Sunday? A bet on which could end in the highest drama? Sneaky attention seekers, both of them. Let's call it a draw, because just sometimes there doesn't need to be a winner.

England's Cricket World Cup triumph barely registered at Wimbledon, just as this match would have been an afterthought at Lord's. Keeping tabs on both would have blown the mind.

Djokovic certainly hit Federer for six with his triumph on Centre Court, coming back from the brink of defeat to beat the Swiss for a third time in the men's title match.

After 2014, 2015 and now 2019, no wonder Federer said he wanted to "forget" all about the latest loss. Fat chance of that. Classics like this live long in the memory.

The record books that Federer has rewritten over the last 20 years may soon be due a redraft, with Djokovic fast closing both on the man from Basel and Rafael Nadal in the grand slam stakes.

His 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) success was remarkable in many ways, not least because he trailed 8-7 and 40-15 in the deciding set, with Federer having the match on his racket as he served for a ninth title in SW19 and 21st slam overall.

Djokovic may one day consider the passing shot to save the second of those championship points as the most important of his career.

He becomes the first man over 30 in the Open era to successfully defend this title and has won four of the last five slams, missing out only at the French Open last month, where he fell in the semi-finals.

The 32-year-old Serbian's tally stands at 16 slams, with Nadal's 18 and Federer's 20 under threat. At Wimbledon he has matched Bjorn Borg's five. Federer's eight may still be reachable.

This astonishing match finished in bizarre circumstances, with the last point having to be played twice after a faulty line ruling.

At the second time of asking, Federer clattered the ball off his racket frame, high, ugly and way out of court.

Four hours and 57 minutes it lasted, the longest men's Wimbledon final ever. Federer, at 37, still has the hunger and plenty of game, but it is hard to imagine him having a better chance of a ninth crown.

He was first nagged about his age as he inched towards his late twenties, peppered with questions about how long he might have left at the top.

In January 2009, the 27-year-old Federer was asked at an Australian Open press conference if he needed to win a couple more grand slams before there would be "a whole lot of Gulbises and Cilices and Del Potros breathing down your neck".

Bless Ernests Gulbis, for he is an outlier in this story.

Federer's longevity is a modern wonder of the world. A poll from Swiss broadcaster SRF showed 86 per cent expected another Federer victory in London, with Wimbledon's own Twitter survey revealing 70 per cent fancied the same outcome.

Swiss newspaper Blick said Djokovic would need to "shift up a gear" to be competitive, as John McEnroe delivered the same verdict but about Federer.

This was their 48th match. Djokovic has now won 10 of their 16 grand slam meetings.

Conventional wisdom dictated that Federer would struggle if he dropped the opening set, but there has been little about his career that has adhered to convention. Pete Sampras' 14 grand slams were widely reckoned to be an insurmountable stack before Federer, Nadal and then Djokovic all overtook the American.

It was "conventional wisdom" that was cited at the 2008 US Open when a reporter, after Federer beat Andy Murray in straight sets to take the title, pointed out how some had portayed the Swiss as a declining force.

Back on Centre Court, over a decade on, Federer the revisionist duly banished tie-break frustration and sauntered through the second set against Djokovic.

Where would this match pivot? They had split the first two sets of each of their three previous Wimbledon matches, when Federer won in the 2012 semi-finals and Djokovic the 2014 and 2015 finals.

The man who captured the third set in each of those matches wound up prevailing. When the third went to a tie-break this time, Djokovic punched the air at 5-1, an action of hostility he had the chops to back up.

Centre Court has become a Church of Federer to which his disciples - celebrity, royalty, and civilian - flock with unflinching faith. Prince William was watching on. Movie stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston were at courtside too, along with Federer favourites Stefan Edberg and Rod Laver.

Into the fifth set they went after Federer hit back again, his wife Mirka on her feet, whispering a wish to the gods.

John Bercow, the speaker of the United Kingdom's House of Commons, was toadying up his role of chief Federer fan boy.

Before the match began, Nick Kyrgios tweeted: "Federer please win", a snippy reminder of the Australian's disdain of Djokovic.

Djokovic would never court the affection of Kyrgios, nor give a Castlemaine XXXX for his opinion, and the man from Belgrade feels worthy of greater admiration from the Wimbledon crowds.

They rose to acclaim his success, which perversely might not help him in the popularity stakes.

At Wimbledon, they hold a unique place for Federer, this greatest of men's champions.

It is high time they showed a similar deference to Djokovic.

Novak Djokovic described a "quite unreal" victory as he sympathised with opponent Roger Federer following Wimbledon's longest ever final.

An epic clash that last four hours and 57 minutes concluded with Djokovic edging a historic fifth-set tie-break to defend his All England Club title, denying Federer the honour of becoming the oldest grand slam champion in history.

Unsurprisingly, after an exhausting effort, the triumphant world number one, who saved two match points, was keen to commiserate with Federer.

"I think that was if not the most exciting, thrilling final I've ever been in, then [in the] top two or three in my career," he said. "And against one of the greatest players of all time, Roger, who I respect a lot.

"Unfortunately, in these kind of matches, one of these players has to lose. We both had our chances and it's quite unreal to be two match points down and to come back.

"It's a bit strange to play a tie-break from 12-12, as well. I was hoping I could get to the tie-break [after winning two earlier]."

Federer may have fallen short of making history, but Djokovic, who now has 16 grand slams to his rival's 20, says he can still only hope to match his rival's achievements.

"Roger hopes that he can give other people belief they can do it at 37 - I'm one of them," said the Serbian. "He inspires me, for sure."

Roger Federer said he would "try to forget" his Wimbledon final defeat to Novak Djokovic after failing to take two match points.

The eight-time champion fell agonisingly short of a ninth title, losing 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) on Centre Court on Sunday in the longest final in history at the All England Club.

At 8-7 in the deciding set, Federer led 40-15 on his own serve but could not see out victory.

The match became the first Wimbledon final to go to a tie-break at 12-12 in the decider before Djokovic claimed his fifth championship after four hours and 57 minutes.

Federer said: "I will try to forget, but it was a great match.

"It was long, it had everything. I had my chances; so did he. I thought we played some great tennis.

"I'm very happy with my performance. But Novak, that was great, congratulations man, that was crazy."

Federer, 37, will regret that 16th game of the final set for a long time, but his longevity continues to amaze.

He suggested this will not be his final challenge for a 21st grand slam triumph, even though he turns 38 next month.

"I hope I give some other people a chance to believe that at 37 it's not over yet," said the Swiss.

"I feel great. It's going to take some time to recover, physically too. But I gave it my all, I'm still standing, and I wish the same for all the other 37-year-olds."

His family came out to see the presentations, and Federer said: "They won't be excited with the plate [the prize for finishing runner-up]. They'd rather take that golden thing. I love them. It's back to being Dad and husband, it's all good."

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