It was a victory that he should have been celebrating almost an
hour earlier, it was a victory that almost slipped through his
sweaty fingers, it was a victory he had been craving for three
At 6.07pm local time on Sunday, the Serb's agony finally turned into
ecstasy when Roger Federer whipped a backhand into the net to end
one of the greatest finals seen at the All England Club.
The 6-7(7) 6-4 7-6(4) 5-7 6-4 triumph elevated Djokovic to a double
Wimbledon champion, while denying Federer a record eighth title.
Fifty two minutes earlier the Serb had also stood one point away
from victory at 5-4 in the fourth set - only to watch Hawkeye
deliver the cruellest of blows.
The technology that had left Federer seething in the 2007 final,
when he yelled "God it's killing me", came to his rescue at match
point down by ruling the Swiss's serve had in fact kissed the line
after the line judge had called it out.
What should have led to a second serve from Federer had now turned
into an ace, producing another twist in the gripping drama that had
15,000 people sitting on the edge of their seats and Djokovic tied
up in knots.
"This win has a special importance to me mentally. Because I managed
to not just win against my opponent but win against myself as well
and find that inner strength that got me the trophy today," said an
emotional Djokovic, who had lost five of his previous six grand slam
"I could have easily lost my concentration in the fifth and just
handed him the win.
"It's the most special grand slam final I've played. At the time of
my career for this grand slam trophy to arrive is crucial,
especially after losing several grand slam finals in a row. Started
doubting a little bit.
"I needed this win a lot," added Djokovic, whose Wednesday wedding
with long-time girlfriend Jelena Ristic, has now turned into a
The triumph handed Djokovic a seventh grand slam title - surpassing
the total won by his coach Boris Becker - and halted Federer's bid
to become the oldest men's champion at the All England Club for more
than half a century.
"It was a great final. I can't believe I made it to five, it wasn't
looking good for a while," the 32-year-old Federer said after
missing out on an 18th grand slam title.
"I thought it had everything for fans to like.
"The swing of momentum in the first set, him coming back in the
second, staying even in the third, all the back and forth in the
fourth set ... when things got a bit crazy, and then the drama of
"I kept believing... and kept trying to play offensive tennis, I'm
very disappointed not being rewarded with victory. I was very sad
walking off the court not with the winner's trophy.
"I already have seven. It's not like I need another one. But it
would have been awfully nice to have it," added the Swiss, who was
consoled by Prince William and his wife the Duchess of Cambridge
after walking off court a beaten man.
It was a contest in which Federer fired down 29 screaming aces,
including four in one game, produced 75 winners, and won 180 points
in total - just six fewer than the champion.
While Federer was disappointed at coming off second best in another
five-set final thriller, six years after being beaten by Rafael
Nadal in what is dubbed the 'greatest match ever', losing was not
even an option for Djokovic.
It was therefore little surprise that the man whose tennis had been
rather wayward this past fortnight, brought out the heavy artillery
From the off, 20-shot rallies were followed by 22-stroke exchanges
as the two gladiators went toe-to-toe, both showing astonishing
levels of athleticism as they chased down anything the other threw
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Dropshots were turned into rasping angled winners, lobs were chased
down and flicked away for audacious winners, and volleys flowed off
racket strings like liquid gold.
"This has been the best quality grand slam final that I've ever been
part of. Quality-wise from the first to last point, this is
definitely the best match," Djokovic said following a performance
that also lifted him to the top of the world rankings.
During the presentation ceremony, he told the Swiss directly: "I
respect your career and everything you have done... thank you for
letting me win today."
The absence of break points in the first set led the battling duo
into a tiebreak, Djokovic carving out the first set point at 6-5
only to see it vanish seconds later when he hit a forehand wide.
Four points later Federer had his usually unflappable coach, Stefan
Edberg, leaping to his feet and shouting "Yes" and "C'mon" from the
front row of the player's box when his charge nabbed the first set
thanks to a Djokovic backhand error.
With the showdown also billed as the 'battle of the super-coaches',
Edberg having beaten Becker in two of the three Wimbledon finals
they had contested from 1988 to 1990, the clearly agitated German
slumped back into his seat.
The hollering crowd, however, were ecstatic. As they rose to salute
the man many call "a tennis god", the Serb looked up to the heavens,
holding his racket grip between pressed palms, praying for some
He did not need any help from outside forces when he broke Federer,
who had won 99 percent of his service games during his run to the
final, for a 2-1 second-set lead with a blazing crosscourt passing
That was enough to give the top seed the set and when he took the
third 7-4 in the tiebreak, it seemed there would be no way back for
the crowd favourite.
But Federer loves the feeling of ball on racket, he loves creating
magic - and that is exactly what his ageing limbs and battle-weary
mind produced in the fourth set when he stormed back from 5-2 down,
saved match point, thanked Hawkeye, and left Djokovic stunned and
The cheering crowd wanted more, Djokovic did not.
Holding his arms wide and he gestured skywards, perhaps questioning:
"What more do I have to do to beat this man?"
After Federer saved three nerve-jangling break points in the eighth
game, Djokovic's prayers were finally and thankfully answered two
games later, allowing him to enjoy "a nice bite" of grass for the
second time in four years.
"I thought that there was less grass today than it was a few years
ago, so I had a little bit of soil, as well. It tastes like the best
meal that I ever had in my life."
(Editing by Clare Lovell)
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