'Laughable and unfair': Wimbledon finals ignite ugly $4 million controversy

The startling disparity in the length of the men’s and women’s finals at Wimbledon has once again re-ignited the debate around equal pay and prize money.

Simona Halep took just 58 minutes to crush Serena Williams in the ladies final on Saturday, winning 6-2, 6-2.

In complete contrast, Novak Djokovic needed an extraordinary four hours and 57 minutes to see off Roger Federer, prevailing 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) in the longest final in Wimbledon history.

Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep won their Wimbledon finals in wildly contrasting fashion. Image: Getty
Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep prevailed in wildly contrasting fashion. Image: Getty

Playing best of five sets, Djokovic spent 18 hours and 1 minute on court across the whole tournament, while Halep’s total time playing best of three was less than the entire men’s final.

However as is the norm at tennis’ grand slams, both winners receive equal prize money - in the case of this year’s Wimbledon £2.35m (AU$4.2m).

Inevitably, that’s reignited the debate about gender equality, led by Austrian player Julian Knowle.

Djokovic’s great escape

Djokovic is savouring the greatest grand slam Houdini act of his celebrated career after fighting off two match points to capture a fifth Wimbledon singles crown.

In a captivating, history-making final of wildly fluctuating fortunes, Djokovic denied Federer to retain the title he won last year and add to the trophies he also landed at the All England Club in 2011, 2014 and 2015.

The epic encounter was the longest title decider in the championships' 152-year history, surpassing Rafael Nadal's similarly dramatic four-hour, 46-minute win over Federer in 2008.

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Following a rule change introduced only this year, Sunday's tension-filled final set - which stretched more than two hours alone - was the first ever decided in a tiebreaker after games were locked at 12-all.

"Congratulations, man, that was crazy," Federer said after Djokovic became the first player to win a Wimbledon men's singles final after saving championship points since Bob Falkenburg in 1948.

"I'll try to forget," Federer added after dropping his serve from 40-15 up at 8-7 in the tension-filled final set.

Djokovic's 16th grand slam title vaulted the Serbian superstar to within four of Federer's record 20 and two behind Rafael Nadal's 18.

After winning four of the past five slams, few would back against the 32-year-old from reeling in Federer's benchmark haul as the battle for greatest of all time (GOAT) status intensifies.

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer after their epic Wimbledon final. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer after their epic final. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

For now, Djokovic is content enough after emulating the five-time Wimbledon feats of legendary Swede Bjorn Borg (1976-80) and Englishman Laurie Doherty (1902-1906) in the most extraordinary fashion.

"This was if not the most exciting and most thrilling final I was ever part of, then definitely top two or three against one of the greatest of all time," said the jubilant world No.1.

"He inspires me for sure. Unfortunately in these kind of matches one of the players have to lose.

"It's quite unreal to be down two match points and come back and win. It was a huge relief in the end, honestly.

It was probably the most mentally demanding match I was ever part of.

"I had the most physically demanding match against Nadal in the finals of Australia that went almost six hours, but mentally this was different level, because of everything.

"I'm just obviously thrilled and overjoyed with emotions to be sitting here in front of you as a winner. It was one shot away from losing the match.

"It could have gone easily his way."

with AAP