Wimbledon: Dazzling Djokovic savors victory over Federer
After almost four hours of mental torture, Novak Djokovic sank to his knees, crouched over the hallowed Wimbledon turf, plucked a blade of grass and put it in his mouth - never before had victory tasted so good.
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 years.
At 6.07pm local time on Sunday, Djokovic'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 and to elevate Djokovic to a double Wimbledon champion with a 6-7(7) 6-4 7-6(4) 5-7 6-4 victory.
The four-hour matchhad 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 finals.
"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 double celebration.
Serbia's Novak Djokovic (L) falls down as he was reaching for the ball during his men's singles final match against Switzerland's Roger Federer on day thirteen of the 2014 Wimbledon Championships on July 6, 2014. Photo: AFP
Switzerland's Roger Federer reacts during his men's singles final match against Serbia's Novak Djokovic on day thirteen of the 2014 Wimbledon Championships on July 6, 2014. Photo: AFP
Novak Djokovic of Serbia speaks with Roger Federer of Switzerland after defeating him in their men's singles finals tennis match on Centre Court at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London July 6, 2014. Photo: Reuters
Serbia's Novak Djokovic eats the grass as he celebrates winning his men's singles final match against Switzerland's Roger Federer on day thirteen of the 2014 Wimbledon Championships on July 6, 2014. Photo: AFP
Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates with his coach Boris Becker (L) after winning his men's singles final match against Switzerland's Roger Federer on day thirteen of the 2014 Wimbledon Championships on July 6, 2014. Photo: AFP
Serbia's Novak Djokovic holds the winner's trophy after beating Switzerland's Roger Federer in the men's singles final match during the presentation on day thirteen of the 2014 Wimbledon Championships on July 6, 2014. Photo: AFP
"I already have seven. It's not like I need another one. But it would have been awfully nice to have it," said Federer, 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.
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 at them.
"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," said Djokovic.