Serena Williams must make changes to her game, strategy and goals if she is to achieve her ambition of breaking the all-time grand slam singles record, says her coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

A shock third-round Australian Open defeat to Wang Qiang ended the 38-year-old's most recent attempt to equal Margaret Court's mark of 24 major singles titles in the open era.

Williams has lost four grand slam finals, two at Wimbledon and another two at the US Open, since her return to the WTA Tour after giving birth to her daughter in 2017.

After the American called her performance "unprofessional" in the loss to Wang in Melbourne, Mouratoglou outlined the state of play, with the French Open her next opportunity in May.

"We have to accept the fact that it is not working," Mouratoglou said to BBC Sport.

"Maybe come back with a different angle, a different strategy and different goals so she can make it.

"She does feel positive, she feels negative too because it is a failure when she doesn't win a grand slam. We didn't expect at all to be losing so early, or to be losing at all.

"We have to face reality, but she is positive that she can make it otherwise she probably wouldn't be on a tennis court anymore.

"She's not that far away, but we have to change a few things. Her level is good enough, but we have to understand what is going on. 

"There is a big difference between reaching a final and winning one."

Williams went into the Australian Open as many people's favourite to win the tournament but, despite another setback, Mouratoglou insisted her fire was still there, though was reluctant to put a timescale on how long she will keep pursuing the record.

He added: "It's difficult to know how many chances she will have. I don't know how long she is going to be able to play but being able to reach four grand slam finals says a lot about her level.

"She had everything to retire, 23 grand slam titles. But she decided to make all the efforts, the physical efforts, the mental efforts, to come back to the game, with the goal to score more grand slams and beat the all-time record."

Williams, who won her first WTA title for three years in Auckland last month, is in the United States' Fed Cup team to face Latvia this week as part of a star-studded line-up that also contains Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and teenage sensation Coco Gauff.

Colombia's Wimbledon and US Open doubles champion Robert Farah was formally placed on provisional suspension on Tuesday following his positive test for a banned steroid.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said the top-ranked men's doubles player had not exercised his right to contend why he should not be temporarily prevented from competing.

Farah and the ITF had confirmed the positive out-of-competition test on January 14, when it was revealed the sample was taken on October 17, 2019, and contained the steroid Bolderone.

He is not entered in the ongoing Australian Open and has blamed the positive test on contaminated meat, with Boldenone frequently used by Colombian farmers to boost growth in cows.

As a matter of procedure, Farah has now been put under the mandatory suspension pending a hearing to resolve the case.

The ITF issued a statement that said: "Robert Farah has been provisionally suspended under article 8.3.1(c) of the 2019 Tennis Anti-Doping Programme, pending determination of the charge against him at a full hearing..."

It added: "Mr Farah had (and retains) the right to apply to the chair of the independent tribunal convened to hear his case why the provisional suspension should not be imposed, but has chosen not to exercise that right to date."

Farah, who turned 33 on Monday, partnered his fellow Colombian Juan Sebastian Cabal to last year's two grand slam wins.

As bushfires continue to rage in Australia, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and three grand slams have pledged a combined $400,000 (579,542 Australian dollars) to the relief effort.

The fires have ravaged large swathes of land, killing at least 28 people and millions of animals in the country where the first slam of the year begins next week.

Various fundraising initiatives have been launched and now the ITF has joined with Wimbledon, the US Open and the French Open to boost the cash total.

"The worldwide tennis community has come together in support of all those affected by the bushfires across many parts of Australia," said ITF president David Haggerty.

"This donation will support the Red Cross teams who are working hard on the ground providing essential emergency assistance including relief centres, aid and practical support for victims, evacuated families and those who have lost their homes.

"We would like to commend all members of the tennis community who are currently raising funds and awareness."

Among the other activities taking place is the AO Rally for Relief at Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday January 15, which will see Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Roger Federer take part.

It was a decade dominated by the 'Big Three' and they delivered on multiple occasions on the biggest stages.

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic dominated the decade in men's tennis, winning 33 of the 40 grand slams on offer.

Djokovic claimed 15 of those, while Nadal (13) and Federer (five) built on what they had started in the early-to-mid 2000s.

And, when they matched up in deciders, the trio of greats produced some epic finals.

The women's decade was far more varied despite Serena Williams' dominance – the American winning 12 majors since 2010 – as they too delivered some enthralling deciders.

We take a look at some of the best major finals of the decade.

 

2012 Australian Open: Novak Djokovic bt. Rafael Nadal 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5

In arguably the most gruelling grand slam final ever, Djokovic outlasted Nadal in a five-set thriller in Melbourne.

The all-time greats produced an epic battle that lasted five hours and 53 minutes – the longest slam final in history.

Nadal needed a comeback in the fourth-set tie-break just to stay alive in the decider, famously dropping to his knee in celebration after getting to a fifth.

But the Spaniard would cough up a break lead in the final set as Djokovic claimed an incredible win for his fifth grand slam crown.

2014 Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic bt. Roger Federer 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 6-4

A Federer-Djokovic final at the All England Club always delivers.

This one looked set to be a little more straightforward as Djokovic led two-sets-to-one and held a 5-2 advantage in the fourth.

However, Federer reeled off five straight games to force a decider.

Both players had their chances in the fifth set but Djokovic took his to clinch the title.

Federer finished with 75 winners and 29 unforced errors, while Djokovic had 68 and 27 respectively in a match he described as the "best quality grand slam final" he had played in.

 

2017 Australian Open: Roger Federer bt. Rafael Nadal 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3

This was quite the occasion as two of the best ever went head to head in a grand slam final for the first time since 2011.

Its importance was also highlighted by the fact Federer held 17 majors to Nadal's 14 heading into the match, and can be understood even more greatly at the end of 2019 now that the pair are on 20 and 19 respectively.

As expected, the pair produced in front of an adoring Melbourne crowd.

After a to-and-fro battle to begin the final, Federer came from 3-1 down in the deciding set, having taken a medical time-out after the fourth.

2017 French Open: Jelena Ostapenko bt. Simona Halep 4-6 6-4 6-3

A stunning run at Roland Garros was completed in fine fashion – with an incredible comeback.

The unseeded Ostapenko may have accepted her run to the final was an achievement enough after the Latvian fell a set and 3-0 down to the tournament favourite.

Ostapenko may have levelled the match, but she then found herself 3-1 behind in the decider.

But, she produced another response, her first WTA Tour title coming at the French Open.

 

2019 Australian Open: Naomi Osaka bt. Petra Kvitova 7-6 (7-2) 5-7 6-4

Ostapenko may have delivered a huge comeback, but Osaka's ability to keep her cool against Kvitova at Melbourne Park earlier this year was even more impressive.

The Japanese star's maiden major win had been overshadowed by Williams' outburst at Flushing Meadows just months earlier and it seemed a potential second major title had been thrown away.

Osaka took the first set and led 5-3 with three championship points in the second, only to somehow drop the set altogether.

That would be enough to break even the greatest, let alone a 21-year-old on one of the sport's grandest stages.

Instead, Osaka composed herself, closing out an amazing victory for her second major title.

2019 Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic bt. Roger Federer 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3)

A history-making decider lasted just under five hours and, once again, Federer was left to rue a missed chance against Djokovic at the All England Club.

Djokovic saved two championship points in the fifth set as the two greats went to a final-set tie-break – the first in singles at Wimbledon. 

The Serbian edged it to win a 16th grand slam title, as not even 94 winners from the Swiss superstar were enough

Federer won 14 more points, hit 40 more winners and created 13 break points to eight, but was beaten.

Roger Federer has planned his schedule up until next year's Wimbledon and within a month intends to make a decision on playing at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Olympic singles gold is the only major title to have evaded Federer during his illustrious career, having gone closest when he lost in the final to Andy Murray at London 2012.

The 20-time major champion triumphed in the men's doubles alongside Stan Wawrinka four years prior in Beijing, but he was forced to sit out Rio 2016 due to a knee injury.

Federer is hopeful of having another shot at Olympic singles success but for now is only looking as far ahead as next year's Wimbledon.

"I'm very excited about the prospect of maybe playing the Olympic Games, but I'm not quite sure yet," said Federer, who is in Geneva ahead of the Laver Cup.

"My planning goes until Wimbledon next year which is a couple of weeks before the Olympics, so I guess I'm going to be deciding on the Olympic Games in the next few weeks, hopefully the next month or so.

"It's been such a special event for me over the years. Me and my wife in 2000 carrying the flag in Athens and Beijing for the Swiss Olympic delegation which was a huge dream for me come true.

"Winning doubles gold with Stan Wawrinka in Beijing then getting the silver in London, at Wimbledon.

"So for me, maybe to be part of it again would be great, especially after missing the last edition in Rio because of a knee injury, but I'll just have to see how my family is doing, how my body is doing, and then if everything is green and I really feel it's the right thing to do, I'll play it, otherwise I'll skip it but it would definitely be a nice challenge, I admit."

Federer played the clay-court season for the first time since 2016 this year and reached the semi-finals of the French Open, where he lost to eventual champion Rafael Nadal.

Asked if he will return to the red dirt in 2020, Federer said: "I have decided for myself, but must think about when I announce it."

On September 11 1999, a rising star of tennis clinched her first grand slam title and, 20 years later, Serena Williams is still going strong.

Williams, aged 17, beat Martina Hingis 6-3 7-6 (7-4) in the US Open final at Flushing Meadows to make a major breakthrough.

Two decades and 23 grand slam titles have passed since then, yet Williams - one triumph shy of equalling Margaret Court's overall major record hall - is still at the pinnacle of the sport.

The American reached her second slam final of 2019 at Flushing Meadows last week, though it ended in defeat to new kid on the block Bianca Andreescu, who also beat Williams in the Rogers Cup final in August – albeit with her opponent retiring at 3-1 down.

It means Williams has lost her last four appearances in grand slam finals since winning the Australian Open in January 2017, but her ever enduring talent means a record-equalling success should never be discounted.

Here are some of the astonishing numbers of Williams' career to date.

72 - Williams has won 72 WTA singles titles so far. Her first was in Paris in 1999, with her most recent coming in Melbourne in 2017.

33 - The 37-year-old has reached an incredible 33 grand slam singles finals, losing just 10 of those.

5 - Williams has finished the year ranked as world number one five times, in 2002, 2009, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

39 - Including 14 in doubles and two in mixed doubles, Williams has won 39 major titles - that is a joint-third total since the Open Era began.

1 - Williams is the only player, male or female, to have completed a Golden Slam in both singles and doubles competitions. As well as triumphing at every slam and the Olympics as a singles competitor, Serena has achieved the same feat alongside sister Venus in doubles.

7 - Williams has seven titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, with six more at the US Open, and three at Roland Garros.

319 - Having spent 319 weeks as world number one, Williams is third behind Martina Navratilova (332) and Steffi Graf (377).

2 - She has held all four grand slam trophies on two occasions - in 2002-03 and 2014-15.

97 - In total, Williams has appeared in 97 singles finals on the WTA circuit.

186 - Williams spent 186 weeks as world number one between February 2013 and September 2016, equal with Graf's record from August 1987 to March 1991.

Serena Williams lost the US Open final to Bianca Andreescu on Saturday, her fourth final in the last two years without a win. A win would make Williams the most winningest woman in the Open era of Grand Slams, surpassing Margaret Court's 23 titles. But her latest loss brings into question whether or not she still has what it takes to win a major. The Zone Blitz team answers the question.

Serena Williams' quest for a 24th grand slam title continues after she succumbed to an inspired performance by teenage sensation Bianca Andreescu in the US Open final.

The 19-year-old Canadian capped an extraordinary rise in 2019 by clinching the final slam of the season at Flushing Meadows with a 6-3 7-5 victory, maintaining her incredible run of having never lost to a top-10 player.

While it was Andreescu this time around, it was Naomi Osaka who beat Williams at Arthur Ashe Stadium in 2018, with the 37-year-old having been stuck on 23 victories – one shy of Margaret Court's record – since January 2017.

For a spell in a dramatic second set, it looked as though Williams had the upper hand, but Andreescu held firm to condemn her opponent to a fourth successive grand slam final defeat.

KERBER PROVES TOO MUCH AT WIMBLEDON

Williams was around eight weeks pregnant when she won the Australian Open against her sister Venus in January 2017 and, after pulling out of the Indian Wells and Miami Opens, the then world number one confirmed she was expecting her first child.

She returned to tennis in 2018, making her grand slam comeback at Roland Garros. However, it was at Wimbledon that Williams got back into her grand slam stride, until she met Angelique Kerber, who was in no mood to give up on a chance to clinch a maiden Wimbledon crown and won 6-3 6-3. 

"To all the moms out there, I was playing for you today. And I tried," said an emotional Williams, just 10 months after giving birth.  

CONTROVERSY OVERSHADOWS OSAKA'S TRIUMPH

Osaka's sensational triumph should have been the main story from the 2018 US Open final, but unfortunately Williams stole the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Williams' tournament ended in controversy, as she received a game penalty in the second set after she had reacted badly to a code violation issued by the chair umpire Carlos Ramos.

She demanded an apology from Ramos, who Williams accused of being a "liar" and a "thief" after she received a further two violations for smashing her racket and abusing the umpire.

HALEP SHOWS NO MERCY

After a quarter-final defeat in Melbourne and a round-of-32 exit in Paris, Williams returned to grand slam contention as she charged to the final at Wimbledon earlier this year.   But former world number one Simona Halep put in one of the best – if not the best – performances of her career to brush her opponent aside 6-2 6-2, taking just 56 minutes to do so.   "I don't think it's a surprise for anyone to play great against me," Williams said. "When someone plays lights out, there's really not much you can do. You just have to understand that that was their day today."

NO FAIRYTALE IN NEW YORK

A chance at Flushing Meadows redemption came in Saturday's final. Osaka had been reduced to tears at the end of the 2018 final, in part it seemed due to the partisan crowd in Williams' favour that day, with the youngster apologising for beating the fan favourite.

However, despite equally vociferous support at Arthur Ashe, Williams could not muster enough to beat the exceptional Andreescu.

A stunning recovery seemed on when Williams fought back from 5-1 down to draw level in the second set, but Andreescu – who was not born when Williams won the 1999 title – regained her composure to seal a memorable victory on her major final debut.

Bernard Tomic has failed to recoup the prize money he was docked at Wimbledon and the Australian was also hit with a verbal volley from the Grand Slam board.

Tomic had to hand back the £45,000 he was given for a 6-2 6-1 6-4 first-round thumping by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the All England Club this month due to a perceived lack of effort.

The world number 103 was dispatched by Tsonga in just 58 minutes - the shortest men's singles match at SW19 in 15 years - but Tomic stressed afterwards he was trying.

Tomic challenged the decision to take his prize purse off him, but not only was he unsuccessful with that appeal, he was also given a ticking off. 

Two years ago, the 26-year-old was also fined $15,000 (£11,581) after admitting he was "bored" in an opening-round loss to Mischa Zverev in the grass-court major.

Grand slam board director Bill Babcock wrote in a verdict letter that was published by the New York Times: "A review of your historical record of misconduct at grand slams, never mind elsewhere, provides little justification for an adjustment.

"In your case, Bernard, I am sure you would agree there is no historical evidence to give comfort to the theory that you can reform your behaviour."

Babcock added that Tomic will be refunded 25 per cent of his fine should he avoid a sanction in his next eight grand slam events.

However, Tomic intends to appeal the decision further, telling the New York Times: "I don't care about this 25 percent; I care about the right thing for players in the future."

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.

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