Comfortable Wimbledon men’s final win for Novak
Novak Djokovic booked his return ticket to the top 10 as he crushed Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(3) in a Wimbledon survival-of-the-fittest final on Sunday.
The Serb winner is rediscovering his game after over a year in the injury wilderness and recovered remarkably after a two-part semi-final victory against Rafael Nadal which was only completed a day before the title match and which took five and a quarter hours.
Djokovic now owns 13 Grand Slam titles, including four at Wimbledon.
In his go-to victory move at the All England club, he chomped on a few blades of Wimbledon grass in the moments after victory to celebrate.
“The grass tasted really good this year, I treated myself to a double portion,” the 31-year-old joked during the trophy ceremony.
“It is something different playing a Wimbledon final, this is a sacred place for the world of tennis. it’s very, very special.”
“I’ve been a part of this final five times and won four titles; I’m really proud of it.”
Even without the customary pre-match rest day due to his elongated semi, Djokovic put himself back in the conversation with his move into the tenth ranking spot after long service as world No. 1.
His Wimbledon success cemented his fitness fightback after dealing with a persistent elbow injury which required minor surgery earlier this season after missing the second half of 2017.
Djokovic gave a shout-out to his toddler son Stefan, one of his two children, who was brought into the player box for the post-match presentation at a venue where under-five kids are not allowed in the stadium during play.
“It’s an amazing feeling to have someone screaming ‘daddy,'” said the proud father who earned nearly $3 million in victory.
Djokovic also congratulated Anderson, who put in around 21 hours on court in his run-up matches prior to the final.
“He’s had an incredible run and spent quite a few hours on the court.
“Today was his first Wimbledon final, he was a much better player in the third set. I was lucky to get through.”
Anderson was playing his second final at a major out of the past three after finishing runner-up to Nadal at the US Open last September.
The US-based South African was obviously still feeling the effects of his six and a half hour struggle in the semis to put out John Isner on Friday.
But Anderson proved unable to repeat the comeback he staged against Roger Federer after upsetting the Swiss after trailing two sets in their quarter-final.
“Novak beat me up pretty bad in the first two sets,” the runner-up said. “I just tried to keep at it, working hard.
“I was a point or two away form taking it to a fourth set – he forced Djokvic to save five break points in the third. “But Novak is a true champion, playing him is not easy.
“I admit I was not feeling as fresh as I could have.”
The finalist called Wimbledon “the event we dedicate lives to as we fight for a spot on court – and only a few have made it out here.
“It meant a lot to me, hopefully I’ll give myself another opportunity here.”
The Djokovic victory in two hours, 19 minutes, gives the Serb a 6-1 lead in the Anderson series, with the Serb’s only loss coming in the pair’s first meeting in 2008.
The victory broke a two-year title drought at the majors for Djokovic, who won his last title after lifting his last at Roland Garros, in 2016.
“I had to trust the (comeback and recovery) process,” Djokovic said. “I had to trust in myself.”
“I owe great thanks to my team, everyone supporting me the last couple of years.” This was the first time I had faced a severe injury, I had many moments of doubt.
“I didn’t know if I could come back to the level to compete, but there is no better place in world to make this comeback.
It took Anderson 70 minutes (into the second set) for Anderson to reach his first break point on the Djokovic serve, saved by the Serb who eventually took a two-sets-to-love lead.
But Anderson picked up his game in the third set, playing level-pegging.
The Djokovic nerves began to show late in the set, with the Serb twice double-faulting to hand over set points to his opponent.
But scrambling from Djokovic saved them both as the scoreline reached 5-all.
Djokovic saved three more in the 12th game to set up a tiebreaker, taking a 5-1 lead in the decider.
Djokovic earned four match points, with Anderson saving the first with an overhead smash before hitting the net with a return on the second.
As a result of his success, Anderson will move to a career-high fifth in the world.