Novak Djokovic says winning his third Wimbledon title feels just as good as his first after the Serb dispatched Roger Federer in four sets to be crowned champion again at the All England Club.
Djokovic beat Federer in the final for the second year running, preventing the Swiss from clinching a record eighth Wimbledon title with a 7-6 (7/1) 6-7 (10/12) 6-4 6-3 victory.
It was a clinical and ruthlessly efficient display from the world number one, whose nine grand slam titles lifts him above Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi and Ivan Lendl in the all-time list of major champions.
“In the end when I finished the last point, I took out everything that was in me,” Djokovic said.
“I still obviously don’t realise what kind of achievement it is, and it’s a great achievement.
“Even though it’s the third title here, it feels like a first. Tomorrow is a new day. Now it’s a time to celebrate.
“There is no reason not to be satisfied with what I have achieved.
“I’m thrilled and very proud with all the success that I’ve had so far in the career, everything I’ve reached.
“If you had asked me as a 14-year-old back in Serbia trying to find my way, that this is how I’m going to end up at 28, of course I would sign the deal and take it right away.”
Djokovic was tested to his limits during two scintillating opening sets on Centre Court, the second of which saw him squander seven set points before Federer won the tie-break.
The Serbian, however, drew upon all his powers of resilience to come roaring back and in the third and fourth sets, he was simply too strong for his opponent.
Sealing victory in just under three hours, Djokovic soaked up the applauds before crouching down to perform his traditional celebration of eating the Wimbledon grass.
“I was assured that’s it’s gluten free, it’s not processed, completely organic and natural and I could eat it. So I had no reaction,” joked Djokovic, who adheres to a strict gluten-free diet.
“It was obviously nice to repeat this tradition and doing the thing I do after I win the title here in Wimbledon.
“As I said on the court, when I was a child, dreaming of winning Wimbledon, it was something I always wanted to do in my celebration.”
The triumph also means Djokovic now has the same number of Wimbledon titles as his coach Boris Becker, who joined his backroom team in December 2013.
Becker helped Djokovic recuperate after a bruising defeat in the French Open final five weeks ago, when the Serb had been expected to complete his set of major titles.
“We shared very joyful and positive happy moments in the locker room after the match where we hugged,” Djokovic said.
“As a team we tried to grasp on everything that we have achieved, especially during this couple weeks, being able to bounce back mentally after Roland Garros, a tough loss there, and to win this trophy which makes it even bigger.
“Whenever you’re winning, obviously everybody feels happy and it’s easy to say positive things but in the tough times, Boris was there, as was the entire team.”
Djokovic paid tribute to the “amazing tennis” Federer played over the fortnight, which had many believing the 17-time grand slam champion could add another major title to his already glittering record.
The Centre Court crowd were cheering the Swiss on from the outset and while Djokovic has many admirers, he is yet to feel the same adoration that Federer or even Rafael Nadal have enjoyed.
“It doesn’t bother me, I expected that coming into the match,” Djokovic said.
“I think it’s normal because Roger is a champion on and off the court.
“He’s a very likeable guy. He’s somebody that has played on this level for so many years, many more years than me.
“It’s not judging just by the results, but his character, personality. He’s done all the right things to get that support.
“More or less anywhere I play against Roger, it’s the same so I have to accept it. I have to work and earn the majority of the support. Maybe one day and that would be great.”