Novak Djokovic beats Roger Federer in Wimbledon men's final
WIMBLEDON, England -- It wasn't Novak Djokovic's first hurrah, his victory Sunday in the Wimbledon men's final, but it might have been Roger Federer's last.
A month from his 33rd birthday, Federer was out to get his eighth All-England title. Djokovic had that in mind and also hoped to rid himself of the doubts about his play in championship matches.
So Djokovic's 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4 victory, his second at Wimbledon, "has a special importance to me mentally. 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."
That's a rare comment from athletes at the top -- and Djokovic has regained the lead in the ATP rankings -- but in five of his previous six Grand Slam finals, including the French Open last month and the U.S. Open and Wimbledon last year, he lost.
But in this one -- which fell four minutes short of four hours -- after wobbling and blowing the fourth set after taking a 5-2 lead, the 27-year-old from Serbia steadied. He now has seven Slams, not bad but a distance from Federer's 17.
"I was just overwhelmed by the emotions," said Djokovic, who duplicated his reaction after the 2011 victory by picking some blades of grass and chewing on them.
Federer served well -- he had 29 aces to Djokovic's 13 -- but had trouble breaking Djokovic's serve.
"I just couldn't figure out why I wasn't breaking his serve or actually creating opportunities," Federer said. "That can happen if the other guy plays well in the big moments."
The usual packed crowd of about 15,000 at Centre Court, the majority cheering for Federer because of his longtime success, included the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Kate) and David Beckham.
"It's the first tournament I watched on TV when I was 5 years old," Djokovic said to the crowd. "It's the biggest in the world."
Then he said, "I'd like to thank Roger for letting me win."
Federer came to the net more than Djokovic, hoping to reduce Djokovic's advantage in mobility.
"I'm not surprised," Djokovic said. "He's coming down the line with backhands more often than in previous years. Those were particular changes in his game that I noticed before coming into this match. I paid attention to it and I was ready for it."
Federer also was prepared, but the years are gaining on him. However, before he left the court, he told the crowd, "I love you. See you next year."
For sure, so will Djokovic.
"The future you can't predict," he said. "You can only be in the present moment. That's what I tried to do against Roger."