Djokovic outplays Nadal to take Wimbledon title

Novak Djokovic crowned his rise to number one in the world in perfect fashion with a dramatic 6-4 6-1 1-6 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon final.

The Spaniard was looking to make it three titles in four years at the All England Club and win back-to-back French Open and Wimbledon titles for the third time, but it was the player in his first final in SW19 who held his nerve the best.

Having been sublime in the opening two sets, Djokovic, the Australian Open champion in January, dipped in the third but he was not to be denied.

Microphone problems added an unfortunate twist to the presentation ceremony, with Nadal eventually managing to made himself understood.

"Now I can say well done to Nole (Djokovic)," he said to a great cheer. "I tried my best but today one player played better than me."

Djokovic, who will overtake Nadal in the rankings tomorrow, said: "It's really difficult to describe except it's the best and most special day of my life. I think I'm still sleeping. I played probably my best match on grass ever."

The high profile spectators, part of the capacity 15,000 crowd, watched Nadal claw back a set in dramatic fashion.

But Djokovic became Serbia's first ever Wimbledon winner - to the delight of his president, Boris Tadic, who watched the 24-year-old make history with the other VIPs in the Royal Box.

Upon winning Djokovic fell to the ground before getting up to shake hands with Nadal - he then made the sign of the cross and looked up to the heavens before throwing his sweat bands into the crowd.

Jelena Ristic, his girlfriend was close to his tears along with his family.

Djokovic, whose home country has no grass courts, then delighted the crowd by throwing his rackets into the stands.

If Nadal had fought his way back, he would have been the first to do so in a Wimbledon final since France's Henri Jean Cochet, aged 26, in 1927.

His consolation prize was £550,000. Djokovic, who embraced the trophy unbelievingly during the courtside presentation, leaves Wimbledon £1,100,000 richer.

The Serbian has emphatically been the player of 2011, winning an astonishing 47 out of 48 matches before today's clash, with his only defeat coming against an inspired Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the French Open.

His 41 consecutive wins included four over Nadal in the finals of Masters Series events, two of them on the Spaniard's favoured clay, yet still Djokovic was not the favourite.

Nadal had not been beaten at Wimbledon since a five-set loss to Federer in the final of 2007, and his record against Djokovic in grand slams read: played five, won five.

The start showed what the second seed was up against, with Nadal piling on the pressure and drawing gasps from the crowd with two thumping forehand winners.

But a man does not win 41 straight matches without having complete confidence in himself and his game, and slowly he began to turn things around.

Playing Djokovic must be the closest Nadal comes to facing himself - superb athleticism in defence, but crucially the ability to turn defence into attack with the flash of a racquet.

The Serbian began to come out on top in the long, brutal rallies Nadal so loves, and two stunning forehand winners took him to 30-30 with his opponent serving to stay in the first set.

Rarely does Nadal crack, but this time he did, dumping a tame shot into the net to hand Djokovic the set point and then missing with his favourite forehand down the line.

A lucky net cord took Nadal to 0-30 in the opening game of the second set but Djokovic was like a rock, and it was Nadal who was making the errors - more of them than he had in four sets of his semi-final against Andy Murray.

It was an important moment. Djokovic promptly created two more break points in the next game and he took the first with a beautiful dinked backhand off a Nadal drop-volley, celebrating as if he had won the match.

Murray had let the Spaniard off the hook but Djokovic simply got better, breaking again in the sixth game and clinching the set with ease.

The question was whether the 24-year-old would be able to keep up his almost superhuman level, and the answer arrived in the second game of the third set when a forehand error was followed by a backhand one and Nadal had his first break from his first opening.

The crowd had been waiting for a fightback, and they erupted. Nadal began to slow things down, forcing Djokovic to apply the pace, and his error count soared.

He saved two break points in game six but a third brought the first double fault of the match, and Nadal served out another emphatic set to love.

The opening game of the fourth set was now vital for Djokovic and he held firm, just, saving a break point. The pressure swung back to Nadal but he could not follow suit, ending a rally where the ball seemed to touch every line by netting a forehand.

The clouds grew ever darker and thunder rumbled in the background, which must have matched Djokovic's mood when a Nadal return dribbled over the net to give him the immediate break back.

It was back to the tight, tense tennis of the first set, until the eighth game. Nadal started ominously with a double fault, and two more errors made it 0-40.

He saved one break point with a stunning forehand but on the second the coolest man in sport showed his nerves and blasted a forehand long.

Djokovic, the man who dreamed of lifting the Wimbledon title as a child, would serve for it. A brave serve and volley gave him a first match point and this time Nadal had no answer, drilling a backhand long.

Djokovic's box jumped up and down in celebration, the man himself knelt down, picked up a blade of grass and ate it before throwing his racquets into the crowd - the ultimate souvenir from a momentous day.

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In my grandfather's First World War footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during the war. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end