LONDON – Novak Djokovic won his second Wimbledon title and denied Roger Federer his record eighth by outlasting the Swiss player in five sets Sunday.
Djokovic wasted a 5-2 lead, and a match point, in the fourth set but held on for a 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4 Centre Court victory that returned the Serbian player to the No. 1 ranking.
It was Djokovic’s seventh Grand Slam title and broke a streak of three consecutive losses in major finals and in five of his past six.
In the last set, Djokovic broke in the final game with the help of four mistakes by Federer to seal the win.
After the players met at the net, Djokovic went to the middle of the court, knelt down and plucked out a piece of grass and ate it, similar to what he did in 2011 when he won his first title here.
Trailing 5-4 in the fourth set, Federer double-faulted to make it 30-30. He then put a backhand into the net to set up a championship point for Djokovic.
The 32-year-old Federer then hit a serve that was ruled out, but he challenged it and the Hawk-Eye replay showed that it hit the line for an ace – one of his 29 in the match. Federer went on to break in the next game before forcing a fifth set.
“I was hoping that Roger was going to miss the first serve, but that didn’t happen,” Djokovic said. “It rarely happens. That’s why he has 17 Grand Slams and he’s been the most successful player ever, because in important moments, he comes up with his best shots and top game.”
Djokovic said it was difficult to stay focused heading into a deciding set.
“Of course, after dropping a fourth set, it wasn’t easy to regroup and compose myself and find that necessary energy to win the fifth,” Djokovic said. “I don’t know how I managed to do it.”
Federer said it was dramatic match.
“You know going into a match with Novak, it’s always going to be tough,” Federer said. “It had everything for fans to like, the swing of momentum in the first set, him coming back in the second and third, all the back and forth in the fourth set and all the dramas in the fifth.”
Djokovic returns to the top ranking for the first time since last September, taking over from Rafael Nadal, who lost in the fourth round.
Coach vs. coach
Just as he did so often during their playing days, Boris Becker came out on top against Stefan Edberg.
This time, though, they were not out there on the grass at Wimbledon, serving-and-volleying the way they did in the old days.
Instead, they were sitting up in the players’ guest boxes at Centre Court, filling their current roles as coaches: Becker works with champion Novak Djokovic, Edberg with runner-up Roger Federer.
After edging Federer, Djokovic climbed into the stands for a big embrace with his entourage, including Becker.
“It’s been a great ride, and I’m enjoying myself a lot. It’s very easy to work with Novak, because he’s so motivated. He wants to work every day. He plays to win. He’s not happy with a semifinal and final,” Becker said.
“It’s just a great honor for me to be part of his team.”
Djokovic and Federer have played each other 35 times, the same number of meetings Becker and Edberg had in the 1980s and 1990s when they were on tour.
Becker won 25 of those, including the 1989 Wimbledon final. Edberg did win their two other title matches at the All England Club, in 1988 and 1990.
Asked at the outset of Wimbledon how having Becker aboard helps him, Djokovic said: “This is his surface. This is his home. This is where he feels most comfortable.
“Of course, he’s very inspired to convey his messages, his advice to me, and try to point out the few objectives and few priorities on which I should focus.”
Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia and 2011 U.S. Open singles champion Samantha Stosur of Australia won the Wimbledon mixed doubles title with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Max Mirnyi of Belarus and Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching.
Zimonjic and Stosur broke their opponents’ service in the third game of the second set to put them on the way to their first Grand Slam title together.
Qualifier Noah Rubin beat sixth-seeded Stefan Kozlov 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to win the Wimbledon junior boys title in an all-American final.
Unseeded Jelena Ostepanko of Latvia won the junior girls title with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 win over eighth-seeded Kristina Schmiedlova of Slovakia.
Rubin had originally stopped playing junior tournaments after the 2013 U.S. Open. When he changed his mind, his junior ranking was so low – and his ATP ranking – that he had to play the qualifying tournaments at the French Open and Wimbledon.