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August 12, 2007: Djokovic prevails against Federer in Montreal final

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by Jovica Ilic

10 years ago, Roger Federer made his 3rd Canada Open final but the first one in Montreal, and he faced world number 4 Novak Djokovic. It was their 5th meeting and 20-year-old Serb beat Roger for the very first time (Federer was victorious in Melbourne and Dubai earlier that year), prevailing by 7-6 2-6 7-6 in 2 hours and 13 minutes, winning his 5th ATP title and the second Masters 1000 crown. 2007 was the breakthrough year for Novak, he won 2 big titles and almost 70 ATP matches, with deep runs at Roland Garros, Wimbledon, and the US Open, and he established himself as the third best player on the ATP Tour behind Federer and Nadal.

Novak won Montreal in impressive style, beating world number 1, 2, and 3 en route to the title, as the first player who did so since Boris Becker in Stockholm 1994! In the quarters he beat Andy Roddick, then saved all 8 break points against Rafael Nadal in the semis and edged Roger in the title match as well, showing great clutch in both tie breaks.

Roger was more efficient on his first serve, firing 15 aces and winning 77% of the points, while Novak stood much better in the second serve department. Still, Roger had 9 break points, breaking serve 5 times, and he lost the match despite the fact Novak broke him just 3 times, unable to bring his best tennis in the tie breaks.

Thanks to that second set, Roger won 2 points more than Djokovic but obviously not the ones that mattered the most, wasting no less than 6 set points in the opener! Federer was the more aggressive player on the court, with 49 winners and 48 unforced errors and Novak also had good numbers, with 24 winners and 23 errors.

Djokovic gained the lead already in the second game, earning a break after few errors from the Swiss, who knew he has to take risky shots to pass amazing rival from the baseline. It was 3-0 soon, Novak found a great rhythm on his serve right from the start and he made the best possible start of this final.

Roger finally found his forehand after that and it made an impact, as he broke back at 15 in game 5. Both players served well after that, until game 11 when Roger broke for a 6-5 lead when Novak sent the backhand long. In no time at all, Federer raced towards the set, with a 40-0 advantage on serve in game 12, only to make 3 unforced errors and bring back Novak to deuce.

Federer had 3 more set points in that game but he just failed to bring the set over the finish line. Djokovic played some impressive points to hang in there and he eventually broke with a forehand down the line winner, setting up a tie break.

The momentum was now on his side and he raced through it, hitting a service winner to notch the breaker by 7-2, stealing the opening set despite facing so many set points. Roger had to leave the set behind him as soon as possible and he did exactly that, storming over Novak in set number 2, taking it 6-2 in just over 30 minutes.

He was the dominant figure on the court, firing winners from all over the court and Novak had nothing to stop that, with just 3 winners and 11 unforced errors. Djokovic somehow held in game 4 but his serve was broken 2 games later when he netted a forehand and again in game 8 when Roger sealed the set with a backhand down the line winner.

Everything worked well for the defending champion in this set, from serve to his forehand, and he certainly looked to build upon that in the decider as well, with the momentum on his side. Nonetheless, exactly the opposite happened at the start of the final set, with Novak breaking at 15 to grab an early lead, ending Roger's streak of 4 straight games.

Djokovic sailed through his service games in the next 20 minutes or so and he was 2 service games away from the win when Federer stole the break in game 8, leveling the score at 4-4 and setting the scene for a dramatic enclosure.

The last 4 games of the match saw 4 commanding holds, and the final was to be decided in the third set tie break. Novak earned 2 mini-breaks to jump into a 4-1 lead and he converted his second match point when Roger's tweener found the bottom of the net, starting a huge celebration of a well-deserved crown.

ALSO READ: August 11, 1923:West Side Tennis Club, Forest Hills, gets brand new stadium .

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