He holds a 21-10 record over Nadal in the past nine seasons. When last they played in a Grand Slam final, at the Australian Open in January, Djokovic painted a masterpiece, winning, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, in just over two hours.
Including this match, his record against Federer in that span is just as imposing: 20-9.
Still, the records don’t count when it comes to public sentiment. Nadal and Federer are beloved. Djokovic, before this match and even after it, is simply respected, albeit deeply so.
His head-to-head record against Federer now includes three wins in the Wimbledon final, where Federer has claimed a record eight men’s titles. It also include three memorable wins at the United States Open, saving match points in the 2010 and 2011 semifinals and winning the 2015 final.
Unlike the atmosphere at that final in New York, where the fevered, pro-Federer audience verged on boorish, the crowd here did not seethe with nastiness.
The spectators were polite to him, granting him applause throughout, though it was often muted, restrained and grudging. When he made an error, there was applause. When Federer made an error, there were groans.
“Of course, if you have the majority of the crowd on your side, it helps, it gives you motivation, it gives you strength, it gives you energy,” Djokovic said. “When you don’t, then you have to find it within.”
In the final set, Federer seemed weary. But with the crowd urging him on he edged ahead, breaking Djokovic with a crosscourt forehand pass.