x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Novak Djokovic’s perfect present for the past and the future

New world No 1 dedicates his second title at Wimbledon to late coach and family.

Novak Djokovic is thrilled to win his second Wimbledon title shortly before he is to become a father. Carl Court / AFP
Novak Djokovic is thrilled to win his second Wimbledon title shortly before he is to become a father. Carl Court / AFP

An emotional Novak Djokovic wept tears of joy as he dedicated a memorable Wimbledon triumph against Roger Federer to his former coach, who died last year.

Djokovic held his nerve to win one of the greatest Wimbledon finals in years with a 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 5-7, 6-4 victory over seven-time champion Federer in front of an enthralled Centre Court crowd on Sunday.

It was a cathartic victory for the Serbian world No 2, who had lost five of his last six grand slam finals, including his last three in a row.

Djokovic celebrated by getting down on his knees to eat a few blades of grass, just has he had done after winning Wimbledon for the first time, in 2011.

Thinking of the life-changing moments he has experienced over the last 12 months, he was unable to contain his emotions as tears flowed.

It marked Djokovic’s first slam title since his childhood coach, Jelena Gencic, a woman he described as a second mother, died at age 76 last June. He was also quick to dedicate the All England Club victory to fiancee Jelena Ristic, who is pregnant with the couple’s first child.

“I dedicate this to my future wife and our future baby. I’m going to be a father soon. It’s a great joy of life,” Djokovic said.

Djokovic’s outpouring of emotion was understandable after he went through a nerve-shredding afternoon in which he blew most of his momentum and a match point in the fourth set.

Faced with a majestic comeback by Federer, 32, Djokovic fought back in typically tenacious fashion to snatch the trophy, although it was hard to picture him winning after the Swiss great took the seemingly fateful fourth set. “I had to compose myself and find the energy to win,” said Djokovic, who will reclaim the world No 1 ranking on Monday.

“That is why Roger has 17 grand slams, because in the important moments, he comes up with his best shots.

“I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to win that fifth set.

“The first tennis match I ever saw was Wimbledon, when I was five, and that image always stuck in my mind. It is the best tournament in the world and the one I always dreamed of winning.”

Federer was frustrated in his bid to win a record eighth Wimbledon title and his first major crown since he triumphed at the All England Club two years ago.

“Roger I respect your career and everything you have done and thank you for letting me win today,” Djokovic said.

Federer, who had the majority of the crowd on his side, hardly seemed downcast after coming so close to pulling off a great comeback.

“I can’t believe I made it to five sets. It wasn’t looking good there for a while,” Federer said.


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