Life is full of disappointments. But if we all dealt with them the same way Novak Djokovic reacts to his, the world would probably be a much happier place.
Barely five weeks ago, Djokovic was standing on Court Philippe Chatrier in Paris, fighting tears after a heart-wrenching defeat to Stan Wawrinka, who dashed his hopes of completing a career grand slam.
On Sunday, he was taking a bite of the grass on Wimbledon Centre Court, celebrating a third triumph at the All England Club and a ninth grand slam title victory.
The Serbian world No 1 has made an art out of bouncing back and his 7-6 (1), 6-7 (10), 6-4, 6-3 win over Roger Federer in the final was the perfect exhibition of mental strength.
“This sport makes you recover very fast. Within a couple weeks you really need to get your things together and motivate yourself to be able to play on a high level in another grand slam,” said Djokovic after his win.
“It’s actually good that we have Wimbledon just a few weeks after Roland Garros because I had pretty much two years with the same situation, where I lost in four sets, in a tough match, in the finals of Roland Garros, against (Rafael) Nadal last year, against (Stan) Wawrinka this year. Obviously, disappointed and heartbroken.
“But if there is one thing that I learned in this sport, it is to recover fast and to leave things behind me and move on.”
He added: “As a team we tried to grasp everything that we have achieved, especially during this couple of weeks, being able to bounce back mentally after Roland Garros, a tough loss there, and to win this trophy which makes it even bigger.”
Centre Court was the place to be and with the host of actors in attendance – Clive Owen, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bradley Cooper, Kate Winslet, Jeremy Piven and Hugh Grant were all there – you’d think it was a movie premiere not a tennis final.
And halfway through, the match felt as dramatic as any film boasting one of those stars and Centre Court felt more and more like a theatre.
After trailing by a break, 2-4 in the opening set, Djokovic struck back immediately to level for 4-4 and after saving two set points in game 12, he took the set into a tiebreak.
Federer’s serve was not as impeccable as it had been against Andy Murray in the semi-finals, as he served at 59 per cent while Djokovic was flopping at the net, succeeding only twice in nine approaches.
The Serb played a flawless tie-break though to take a one-set lead. He had never lost a grand slam match to Federer after winning the first set and the Swiss knew what he was up against.
It was Federer who had the first chances to break in the second set but Djokovic was resolute and he got his first set point in the 10th game. Federer got his opponent on the move though to save it and hold for 5-5.
Djokovic was under pressure but held in a marathon 11th game but the real drama came in the tiebreak.
Federer miraculously saved six set points in the breaker to take it to 10-10 and he snatched the set with a well-struck volley winner at the net.
Looking back at the seven set points he squandered, Djokovic ripped his shirt in the changeover and roared in frustration.
But the way he responded to that setback was remarkable as he broke Federer to go up 3-1 in the third set.
The Swiss held for 2-3 before play was suspended for a brief shower. But the players returned to the court 15 minutes later with the roof still open as the rain subsided. Djokovic closed out the set comfortably, holding to love with a routine overhead.
He won 94 per cent of his first serve points in that set and was 9/10 at the net unlike his 4/14 in the first two sets.
A tentative half-volley by Federer fell way short and Djokovic broke for 3-2 in the fourth. A return winner gave Djokovic two championship points and he unleashed an inside out forehand winner to claim a third Wimbledon title to equal his coach Boris Becker’s tally.
“He continuously puts a lot of pressure on you,” explained Djokovic of the challenge of facing a seven-time Wimbledon champion like Federer. “Especially on the grass, he plays one, two games very quickly, chips and charges, just takes away the time, which Andy (Murray) and I need.”
“We are baseline players and we need a little bit more time. We are not as talented as Roger, who wins his service games in 30 seconds.
“In the end when I finished the last point, I took out everything that was in me. It’s a great achievement. Even though it’s the third title here, it feels like first.”
Djokovic’s ninth major title has taken him past legends like Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl, as he now has taken sole possession of eighth place in the all-time list of grand slam leaders.
The 28-year-old also became one of just seven players to win 200 or more grand slam matches as he entered that exclusive club in the most glorious style imaginable.
Roger Federer believes it’s too early to pass a verdict on Novak Djokovic’s place in the history of tennis but says the Serb is constantly moving up the ladder.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 12, 2015
Federer’s four-set defeat to Djokovic denied the Swiss a chance to become the first man in history to win eight Wimbledon titles and kept his record tally of grand slams won at 17.
Meanwhile Djokovic won his ninth overall and third at Wimbledon.
Asked where he sees Djokovic’s position amongst the greats of the game, Federer said: “Moving up. We don’t know who is what, all these things.
“But he’s clearly making a big name for himself, you know, having won as many times now as he has in these different slams. But also his streak at world No 3, 2, 1, keeping it up, keeping it going, winning a lot of titles time and time again.
“Staying injury‑free now for him is crucial. Clearly he’s going to be one of the top guys. Where? We’ll still have to wait and see. I’m sure he still has many more great years ahead of him.”
Federer and Djokovic were taken off court straight after the final was over as the organisers chose to close the roof – which typically takes about 20 minutes – before ushering them back on for the trophy ceremony.
The world No2 found that bizarre but said in a way it helped him not think about the disappointment of defeat.
“Some matches tend to be easier to digest,” said the 33-year-old Federer.
“This one feels the case, just because the end of it. It was awkward having to shut the roof. You go take a shower. You come back for the ceremony. I was like ‘give it to Novak. It’s his moment. Okay, fine. Let’s go take a shower, come back’. So that was weird.
“I think that gave me a chance to also settle down and come back and have a much better idea of what actually happened out on court.
“I still think I had a great tournament. For me a finalist trophy is not the same. Everybody knows that.
“But thankfully I’ve won here in the past, so it does not feel like I’m chasing anything.”
Defending champion Novak Djokovic won a third Wimbledon title and a ninth Grand Slam crown on Sunday, ruthlessly shattering Roger Federer’s bid for a record eighth All England Club triumph.
World number one Djokovic won 7-6 (7/1), 6-7 (10/12), 6-4, 6-3 to add the Wimbledon title to the Australian Open he captured in January.
It was a cathartic moment for Djokovic just a month after his heartbreaking French Open final defeat against Stan Wawrinka — a loss that denied him the only major title he has yet to win.
For 33-year-old Federer, it was a bitterly disappointing end to his bid to become the oldest Wimbledon champion of the Open Era. The 17-time major winner has now gone three years since his last Grand Slam triumph. But he had his chances.
In a rollercoaster rematch of last year’s final, he was 4-2 up in the first set and had two set points.
Federer then had to save seven set points in the second set before bravely levelling the contest. However, Djokovic, five years Federer’s junior, stepped on the gas and raced away to the title.
This final was the pair’s 40th career meeting and 12th in the Grand Slams.
Djokovic was playing in his 17th major final compared to Federer’s 26th. But despite Federer’s majestic triumph over Andy Murray in the semi-finals, which suggested he was not ready for the retirement home just yet, the reality check looks certain to leave the Swiss thwarted in his quest to add to his record 17 Grand Slam title collection.
In front of a Royal Box crammed with tennis and Hollywood A-listers, including Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver, Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugh Grant and Bradley Cooper, Federer was in the early ascendancy.
He broke for a 4-2 lead but Djokovic hit straight back condemning the Swiss to just his second lost service game in 94 served up at the tournament.
Federer then saw two set points disappear in the 12th game, both saved courtesy of back-to-back 120mph serves.
Djokovic capitalised on his escape, racing through the tiebreaker with six consecutive points to claim the opener when Federer served up a double fault.
The Serb committed just three unforced errors in the first set, a key statistic in what would always be a tight encounter. By contrast, Federer hit 11, the same as he suffered throughout his semi-final win over Murray.
Federer wasted two break points in the fifth and 11th games of the second set having saved a first set point in the 10th. That paved the way for a titanic tiebreak where the 33-year-old saved six more set points before levelling the final on his second set point.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 12, 2015
At 12/10, it was the longest tiebreak in a Wimbledon final since 2000 when Pat Rafter faced Pete Sampras with the set taking 65 gripping minutes to complete.
To his credit, Djokovic swiftly recovered, breaking for a 2-1 lead in the third set which became 3-2 when rain forced them off for 20 minutes.
The world number one confidently wrapped up the set 6-4 with just two unforced errors even if the brief stoppage had dampened the fireworks of the second set. ‘
Djokovic was strangling the life out of Federer’s game and another break gave him a 3-2 lead in the fourth set.
The title was his on the stroke of the third hour with a sweeping forehand into an open court. As has become the Serb’s tradition, he celebrated by pulling out a piece of Centre Court grass and eating it.