In the end, neither Novak Djokovic nor Roger Federer won Wimbledon this year. The three-time – and two-time defending – champion crashed out in the third round to an inspired Sam Querrey, while Federer, lost to Milos Raonic in the semi-final.
Both Djokovic and Federer, before their losses, equalled –or in Federer’s case, broke – records that had stood for decades, if not the test of time. Incidentally, each lost his match right after their respective performance highs.
Djokovic, after becoming the only third man after Rod Laver (31) and Don Budge (37) to have won 30 consecutive Grand Slam matches after his win over Adrian Mannarino in the second round; and Federer, who surpassed Martina Navratilova’s total of 306 Grand Slam matches in his comeback win in the quarter-final against Marin Cilic, before losing in another five-setter to Milos Raonic in the semi-final.
Shocking as the two upsets were, Djokovic’s slightly keener than Federer’s; in a way, it was the latter result that brought out the perfection – or its nearness – of the former’s achievement.
Federer lost out on an opportunity, perhaps his biggest over the course of the last two years, to get to his 18th Slam, but Djokovic’s defeat pinpointed how difficult living up to the expectation of completing the career Grand Slam , and fulfilling it, was.
Even for him, despite having just completed the non-career Slam, less than a month ago, at Roland Garros. There’s also the aspect about how close the Serb came towards rivalling, or even going past, Federer’s record of 36 straight Grand Slam quarter-finals that lasted for almost a decade, from 2004 to 2013.
The world no. 1 fell short by eight Slams at 28. In terms of years though, it’s no less staggering, spread across almost eight years dating back to the 2009 French Open fourth round, when he was upset by Philipp Kohlschreiber, until at the Wimbledon, a couple of weeks ago.