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Wimbledon 2019: Novak Djokovic puts victory over Roger Federer down to mind games after overcoming Swiss support

Jack Rathborn

Novak Djokovic has revealed he forced himself to play mind games with himself to triumph over Roger Federer and block out the overwhelming support for the Swiss at Wimbledon in a five-set epic.

The five-hour marathon on Centre Court was the longest singles final in the tournament’s 133-year history.

The Serb clinched the match 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 13-12 (7-3) for his fifth crown at SW19 and his 16th Grand Slam overall.

And he admitted afterwards that he forced his mind to interpret the adulation for Federer as support for himself.

“When the crowd is chanting ‘Roger’ I hear ‘Novak’,” Djokovic remarked.

“It sounds silly, but it is like that. I try to convince myself that it’s like that. It’s similar ‘Roger’ and ‘Novak’.

“It was probably the most demanding, mentally most demanding, match I was ever been part of.

“I mean, that was one thing that I promised myself coming on to the court today, that I need to stay calm and composed, because I knew that the atmosphere would be as it was.”

Djokovic, who hit 40 less winners than his rival (94-54), concedes he was forced into a defensive display throughout.

Djokovic won his fifth Wimbledon title (Getty Images)

“I thought most of the match I was on the back foot actually. I was defending. He was dictating the play. I just tried to fight and find a way when it mattered the most, which is what happened,” said the world No 1.

“I just told myself before the match, I’m going to try to switch off as much as I can from what is happening around us, and just be there, be present.

“I thought I could have played better. But at the same time one thing that probably allowed me to come back and save match points and win this match was the mental stability in those moments.

“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.”

The Serb was forced into a defensive game by Federer at times (AFP/Getty Images)

The goal of reeling in Federer on 20 Grand Slams is now realistic, Djokovic concedes, with the gap to the Swiss maestro now four, with Nadal only two ahead.

“It seems like I’m getting closer,” Djokovic said. “But also they’re winning slams. We’re kind of complementing each other. We’re making each other grow and evolve and still be in this game.

“The fact that they made history... motivates me as well, inspires me to try to do what they have done, what they’ve achieved, and even more.

“Whether I’m going to be able to do it or not, I don’t know. I’m not just a tennis player, I’m a father and a husband. You have to balance things out.”