Novak Djokovic dominates Rafael Nadal, wins first Wimbledon
And without worrying about anything but winning, Djokovic reeled off a giant serve and feasted off of Rafael Nadal's helpless, desperate service return. Djokovic cracked a cross-court forehand and all that was left for the defending Wimbledon champion to do was hit a backhand wide.
With court calm, with quickness afoot and with dominance from the backcourt, Djokovic won his first Wimbledon title Sunday, beating Nadal 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 on Centre Court in 2 hours, 28 minutes.
It was Djokovic's third major tennis title, and after the final point Djokovic, a 24-year-old from Serbia, made the sign of the cross twice and kissed the grass.
This was the fifth straight time Djokovic has beaten Nadal this year but no victory mattered as much. Djokovic's win ended a 20-match Wimbledon winning streak for Nadal. Djokovic, who was seeded second in the tournament, officially becomes the No. 1-ranked player in the world Monday, moving ahead of Nadal on the computer.
"It's really hard to describe this with any words except to say it is the best day of my life," said Djokovic, who was cheered on by Serbian President Boris Tadic in the Royal Box. "This is the most special day of my life, it is the tournament I always dreamed of winning, it is the first tennis tournament I ever watched on television in my life. I think I'm still sleeping and still having my dream."
It seemed the match was going to settle into an even battle early, with both players holding serve in the first set until a sudden and emphatic strike by Djokovic.
Nadal was serving when Djokovic's constant pressure forced Nadal to plunk a forehand into the net. A big service return off a second serve on the first break point of the match helped Djokovic suddenly take the first set, 6-4, in 42 minutes.
Djokovic dominated the second set. He broke Nadal at 15 and Djokovic yelled, "Come on, come on!" He all but guaranteed himself the second set when he broke again on a point that included volleys and lobs and forceful backhand winners.
The Centre Court crowd got roused when Nadal finally got his break points in the second game of the third set and he immediately converted. It was as if Djokovic took a deep breath, down 2-0, and decided to rest a little. That set lasted little more than 25 minutes and if it seemed Nadal had been given massive momentum, it didn't last long.
Djokovic jumped to a 2-0 lead in the fourth set. When Nadal broke back immediately with the help of a lucky net cord service winner, instead of putting his head down, Djokovic just shrugged.
The final break of the match came in the eighth game of the final set. Nadal double faulted on the first point, hit a backhand wide on the second and a forehand into the net to go down 0-40. Nadal, 25, saved one break point but on the second Nadal sent a backhand long. With a 5-3 lead, Djokovic served out the match.
-- Diane Pucin, reporting from Wimbledon, England
Top Photo: Novak Djokovic celebrates after defeating Rafael Nadal in the men’s final at Wimbledon on Sunday. Bottom photo: Djokovic celebrates immediately after defeating Nadal. Credit: Alastair Grant / Associated Press