Novak Djokovic claimed a second Wimbledon title after coming out on top in an extraordinary battle of wills against seven-times winner Roger Federer, eventually triumphing 6-7(7) 6-4 7-6(4) 5-7 6-4 in a gripping encounter on Sunday.
The Serb, who has now won seven grand slam titles, denied Federer the opportunity to win a record eighth All England Club trophy but was pushed all the way by the Swiss who faced a match point in the fourth set before forcing a decider.
Djokovic eventually wrapped up the contest that will go down as one of the greatest Wimbledon finals in three hours and 56 minutes, falling to the ground in celebration before climbing to the players’ box to greet his camp with an emotional embrace.
“I don’t know how I managed to do it,” said a teary Djokovic, who had lost his last three grand slam finals.
“I want to dedicate this win to a few people, first of all to my future wife and our future baby. I am going to become a father soon and I am still preparing for that.
“To my family and my team for sacrifice a lot of their lives to allow me to live the dream and to my first coach Jelena Gencic, who taught me everything about playing tennis and how to behave. Unfortunately she passed away last year but this is for her.”
Federer was magnanimous in defeat and even slightly disbelieving of his own resolve having forced a decider after looking down and out at 5-2 down in the fourth set.
“It was a great final. I can’t believe I made it to five, it wasn’t looking good for a while,” he said.
“Going into a match with Novak, you know it’s going to be tough. I can only say congratulations to him. It was an amazing match and an amazing tournament. It’s well-deserved.”
The Djokovic serve had seemed impregnable in the early games of the match. He held three times for the loss of a single point, while he was also able to apply gentle pressure on his opponent with some stinging returns.
The Stefan Edberg effect on Federer’s game seemed to be in evidence as the Swiss made frequent forays to the net, with limited success, but both players held their nerve to take it to the tiebreak.
Federer, chasing a record eighth title, raced into an early 3-0 lead but was then pegged back and saved two set points before coming out on 9-7 when Djokovic netted a backhand after 51 minutes of scintillating play.
If Djokovic was simmering with a sense of injustice at losing a set in which he lost only four points on his first serve, he hid it continued…