After almost four hours of mental torture, Novak Djokovic sank to his knees, crouched over the hallowed Wimbledon turf, plucked a blade of grass and put it in his mouth – never before had victory tasted so good.
It was a victory that he should have been celebrating almost an hour earlier, it was a victory that almost slipped through his sweaty fingers, it was a victory he had been craving for three years.
At 6.07pm local time on Sunday, the Serb’s agony finally turned into ecstasy when Roger Federer whipped a backhand into the net to end one of the greatest finals seen at the All England Club and to elevate Djokovic to a double Wimbledon champion with a 6-7(7) 6-4 7-6(4) 5-7 6-4 victory.
Fifty two minutes earlier the Serb had also stood one point away from victory at 5-4 in the fourth set – only to watch Hawkeye deliver the cruellest of blows.
The technology that had left Federer seething in the 2007 final, when he yelled “God it’s killing me”, came to his rescue at match point down by ruling the Swiss’s serve had in fact kissed the line after the line judge had called it out.
What should have led to a second serve from Federer had now turned into an ace, producing another twist in the gripping drama that had 15,000 people sitting on the edge of their seats and Djokovic tied up in knots.
“This win has a special importance to me mentally. Because I managed to not just win against my opponent but win against myself as well and find that inner strength that got me the trophy today,” said an emotional Djokovic, who had lost five of his previous six grand slam finals.