Novad Djokovic teased and tormented Rafael Nadal for a full two hours and 28 minutes on Centre Court as he won 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 to become the new king of grass at Wimbledon .
As Nadal slammed an uncharacteristic backhand error to lose The Championships point, Djokovic hit the deck in sheer joy on Sunday. Within minutes, the 24-year-old Serbian did what no champion had ever done before — plucked a few blades of the grass and chewed it.
Former claycourt champion Manuel Santana, who had during his playing days remarked “grass is for cows” was puzzled by this impromptu action from Djokovic as he ended the Roger Federer-Nadal duopoly at Wimbledon.
“This is the best day of my life, this is the tournament I always dreamt of winning,” said Djokovic following the presentation ceremony. He hugged the trophy the same way as a child would do with a prized new toy.
“When you are playing the best player in the world, Rafa Nadal, I had to play at the top of my game. I think I played my best match on grass,” said an emotional Djokovic as his entire family and support staff watched with moist eyes.
When the new weekly ATP rankings come out on Monday, Djokovic will officially be the No.1 men’s singles player. But the icing on the cake is the Wimbledon trophy, which has come in a year where his dominance has been supreme, having won the Australian Open title in January.
For his part, Nadal was emotional when he first addressed the centre court. “Wimbledon has always been special for me and I can imagine how Novak is feeling today. I wish to thank the crowds for making me feel like this and I will be back next year,” said Nadal, his voice almost choking.
This is the Wimbledon final which everyone had been hoping for – No.1 versus the No. 2. Statistical records in this season were in favour of Djokovic, though given Nadal’s unbeaten 20-match winning streak at The Championships, it would have required something special for the Serbian to pull it off.
And what a start Djokovic made, going full throttle and playing sublime tennis where the timings of his shots mixed with the angles and superb court coverage caught the eye.
The high first serve percentage worked well for the six feet and two inches tall Djokovic as the defending champion was befuddled in the contest.
Djokovic was on cruise mode in the second set and his game was a combination of technical acumen, consistency and immense athleticism. His court coverage and speed made him look even more destructive against a man who had won two finals before this here.
There was a huge slump in Djokovic’s form in the third set and it had to do with his first serve percentage dropping. All of a sudden, the “Come on Rafa” chants grew, and the Spaniard forced the contest into the fourth set.
The longer the match grew, it would have been better for Nadal, as he usually wears down the opponent with his termagant approach. But Djokovic had other ideas as he once again started playing in the zone. His production of groundstrokes was amazing and the backhand absolutely world class.
Yet, the way the new champion asserted himself in the eighth game of the fourth set and forced Nadal to make errors was something unusual.
Serving for the title, Djokovic was composed. Referred to as a player who can hit winners from any part of the court he set up match point with an immaculate high backhand volley. Nadal needed to do something special to hang in and failed.
Each era of Wimbledon has seen special champions. After Pete Sampras won his seventh title here in 2000, wild card Goran Ivanisevic won The Championships in 2001. A year later, when the entire field fell apart, Lleyton Hewitt emerged champion.
From 2003 to 2010, it has been a Federer vs Nadal show. Djokovic has signaled the dawn of a new era and more rivalries will take shape from here on.
As the 125th edition of the Wimbledon came to a close, it is nice to have two new champions — Petra Kvitova from the Czech Republic and Novad Djokovic from Belgrade, Serbia.
other winners photos
Wimbledon silverware Girls’ Doubles Champions
Jurgen Melzer and Iveta Benesova Sharon Walraven and Esther Vergeer
mixed doubles trophies wheelchair women’s doubles trophy