WIMBLEDON, England — Serve after booming serve, game after nerve-racking game, Roger Federer and Andy Roddick went at each other with everything they had in the fifth set of the Wimbledon final.
When it finally ended, with Federer claiming a record-breaking 15th Grand Slam title and a sixth Wimbledon trophy, the fifth-set score of 16-14 stood apart from any other even seen after a final on the All England Club’s Centre Court.
"It’s frustrating at times because I couldn’t break Andy till the very, very end," said Federer, who won the match 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14 in his third straight five-set Wimbledon final. "So satisfaction is maybe bigger this time around to come through, because I couldn’t control the match at all."
Last year, Federer lost to Rafael Nadal 9-7 in the fifth. That 16-game set tied the previous record for games in a fifth set in a Wimbledon final. The overall Grand Slam record was an 11-9 fifth set at the 1927 French championships.
In 2007, Federer beat Nadal in five sets to win his fifth straight Wimbledon title.
"I went through some five setters in Grand Slam finals, too, and ended up losing," said Federer, who also lost to Nadal in five at this year’s Australian Open final. "I think it’s one of the best matches we played against each other."
Roddick came into the match a big underdog. Besides losing to Federer in both the 2004 and ’05 Wimbledon finals, Roddick also entered the day with a 2-18 career record against Federer.
But the 26-year-old American didn’t appear to be weighed down by numbers Sunday.
"You just keep going," Roddick said of the four-hour 16-minute match. "Looking back it seems like a lot, but each time it was just a point, and then another one and then another one. I guess it added up after a while."
The longest set in a men’s final at the All England Club had been 13-11, which happened twice in the annals of Wimbledon, once in 1958 and once in 1954, when there were no tiebreakers.
Besides the 30-game final set, the match also set a record for most games in a Grand Slam final with 77. The previous record of 71 games was set at the 1927 Australian championships when Gerald Patterson defeated John Hawkes 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 18-16, 6-3.
Last year’s Wimbledon final — Nadal’s 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (8), 9-7 win over Federer in 62 games — had been the previous record at the All England Club.