© Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic locked down in the tie-breaks against Roger Federer.

How Djokovic Dominated The Tie-breaks Against Federer

Brain Game shows how the Serbian played the big points on his terms

What happened in the three tie-breaks was the exact opposite of what happened all around them.

Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer 7-6(5), 1-6, 7-6(4), 4-6, 13-12(3) in Sunday’s Wimbledon final after saving two match points with Federer serving 8-7, 40/15 in the fifth set, and then Djokovic dramatically saved two break points on his own serve at 11-11, Ad Out, just a few games later.

The match statistics were overwhelmingly dominated by Federer, except for a handful of moments when Djokovic was able to reign supreme. In all three sets Djokovic won, he controlled the tie-breaks, making Federer significantly bend to his own intentions of playing the big points on the Serbian’s terms with both players trading blows from the back of the court.

At first glance, Federer’s overall net stats look extremely impressive. But when you break down when they occurred – and more importantly when they didn’t – the first real glimpse of this big win becomes clearer.

More From The Championships
Match Report: Djokovic Saves Two Match Points To Beat Federer
Djokovic Joins Nadal In Qualifying For #NittoATPFinals
Roger & Novak: Every Match Ever Played
How Djokovic Beat Federer To Win 2019 Title At SW19

Federer won 13/15 points serving and volleying and 51/65 points approaching the net from a baseline position. But in the 33 total points in all three tie-breaks combined, the Swiss won only one solitary point at net from just two forays forward.

Check mate.

Twenty of the 33 points (61%) in the three tie-breaks were contested with both players standing at the baseline, which played perfectly into Djokovic’s masterplan. Djokovic won 16 of the baseline exchanges, while Federer accumulated only four. Of the eight rallies that reached double digits, Djokovic won six.

In the big moments at the end of sets one, three and five, with an illustrious Wimbledon title up for grabs, Djokovic fought the fight on his terms – and ultimately on his turf. To rub salt into the wound, Djokovic won more points at net (three) than Federer did (one) in the three tie-breaks.

Three Tie-Breaks: Points Won By Strategy

(ND = Novak Djokovic / RF = Roger Federer)


Both At Baseline

Federer At Net

Djokovic At Net

Ace/ Return Error / Service Winner

Set 1 Tie-Break 7-5

ND 5 / RF 1

ND 0 / RF 0

ND 2 / RF 1

ND 0 / RF 3

Set 3 Tie-Break 7-4

ND 5 / RF 1

ND 0 / RF 1

ND 1 / RF 0

ND 1 / RF 2

Set 5 Tie- Break 7-3

ND 6 / RF 2

ND 1 / RF 0

ND 0 / RF 0

ND 0 / RF 1

W/L Totals

ND 16 / RF 4

ND 1 / RF 1

ND 3 / RF 1

ND 1 / RF 6

Percentage Played





The difference in rally length in sets one, three and five of all points played to the tie-break compared to what happened in the tie-beak illustrates how Djokovic extended the rallies in the clutch moments to suit his game style.

First Set: Average Rally Length
To the Tie-Break = 4.2 shots
Tie-Break = 6.4 shots

Third Set: Average Rally Length
To the Tie-Break = 4.0 shots
Tie-Break = 5.6 shots

Fifth Set: Average Rally Length
To The Tie-Break = 4.4 shots
Tie-Break = 5.6 shots

When Federer held two championship points serving at 8-7, 40/15 in the fifth set, he lost four consecutive points. Three of them were contested with both players standing at the back of the court.

The match contained 422 points, with almost half of them (46%) finishing with both players standing on their own baseline after the serve and return had successfully been hit in the court.

Throughout the match, when Djokovic kept Federer back and was able to go toe-to-toe from the trenches, he crafted a vastly superior advantage.

You May Also Like: Djokovic Matches Federer On 'Big Titles' Leaderboard

Baseline to Baseline Rallies: Total Points Won
Djokovic = 59% won (114/194)
Federer = 41% won (80/194)

First Serves To The Body
Serving right at the body with first serves is a forgotten tactic of yesteryear, rarely seen on the ATP Tour on any surface. Djokovic might have single-handedly revived it on Sunday at SW19. In an effort to jam up Federer’s forward-moving return strategy, Djokovic aimed right at Federer 10 times in the final, winning an impressive eight of those points.

Djokovic First Serves To The Body
Deuce Court = Won 4/4
Ad Court = Won 4/6
Total Won = 8/10

By contrast, Federer served only one first serve at Djokovic’s body in the final, winning the point. Djokovic also hit nine first serves at the body against Hubert Hurkacz in the third round, winning eight of nine. If we start seeing an uptick in body serves in the upcoming North-American hard-court swing, we might know why.

Djokovic’s fifth Wimbledon title is impressive on so many levels. Forcing Federer to play the majority of tie-break points in baseline-to-baseline exchanges is as close to the bullseye of why he won as you will get.

Editor's Note: Craig O'Shannessy is a member of Novak Djokovic's coaching team.