Serb caps rise to world No1 by claiming first Wimbledon title with dazzling triumph
NEW world No1 Novak Djokovic toasted a double celebration last night after crowning his dazzling ascent to the apex of the men’s game by beating the man he replaces, Rafael Nadal, to win his first Wimbledon title.
Djokovic thrilled Centre Court by sweeping aside defending champion Nadal 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 to claim his second grand slam of a breathtaking season and extend his record to just a single defeat in his last 51 matches.
Incredibly, it was already the Serb’s fifth victory over Nadal this year – all of which have come in finals – and came just hours before today’s official pronouncement of Djokovic as the highest ranked man on the tour.
“I managed to achieve a lifetime goal and I managed to make my dream come true, all in three days. It’s just an incredible feeling that I’m never going to forget. This is the best day of my tennis career,” he said.
“For these kind of days, I was practising every day, being dedicated, being a tennis professional. Any athlete in the world dreams of being No1. So finally when you really do it and when you know that you’re the best, it’s just an amazing achievement.
“Winning two sets in just over an hour against the defending champion on the court that he hasn’t lost on for four years was incredible. It was the best tennis match on grass courts that I’ve played ever. It came at the right moment.”
Djokovic edged a desperately tight first set, capitalising on his first break point of the afternoon at 5-4 when Nadal uncharacteristically netted a forehand, but breezed through the second. Nadal, unbeaten in 20 matches at Wimbledon and usually so resilient, could not get close to the Belgrade native, who put on a masterclass in aggressive tennis studded with 13 winners.
The Spaniard desperately needed a foothold and he found one early in the third when Djokovic suddenly dipped, and Nadal took advantage.
But it proved a mere blip, and Djokovic’s third career grand slam looked increasingly inevitable as he hurtled towards championship point, which he took first time. Two-time winner Nadal, 25, admitted his series of defeats to the same opponent had played on his mind as he fought to cling on to his title.
“To change things I probably have to be a little bit less nervous, play more aggressive, and all the time be confident with myself,” he said. “That’s what I’m going to try next time. If not, I’m going to be here explaining the sixth.”
Djokovic, who has now won eight titles this year, cites Serbia’s Davis Cup triumph in December as the catalyst for his superb form.
“After the Davis Cup win I was full of life, full of energy, eager to come back to the tennis court, eager to play more, win some other tournaments,” said the Australian Open champion. “I lost my fear. I believed in my abilities more than ever.”
On winning, Djokovic dropped to the turf and picked up a blade of grass, before eating it. “I wanted to see how it tastes,” he said. “It tastes good. I didn’t know what to do for my excitement and joy.”
KEY MOMENTS | DJOK AND AWE
Djokovic snatches the upper hand by edging a tight opening set and dazzles in the second, reeling off 13 winners and some of his finest tennis yet on grass to go two sets up against Nadal, a man unbeaten in 20 at Wimbledon
Two-time champion Nadal showed his trademark resilience just as the trophy threatened to slip from his grasp, breaking early in the third to dent Djokovic’s soaring confidence and put himself back in the match
It was to be Djokovic’s day, however, and the Serb rediscovered his ruthlessness in the fourth set to despatch defending champion Nadal – before celebrating by eating a few blades of Centre Court turf