by Kate Flory
Novak Djokovic captured the Wimbledon title for the first time on Sunday as he dethroned defending champion Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 in the final of The 125th Championships at the All England Club.
“It has been the best day of my life, most special day of my life,” declared Djokovic. “I always dreamed of winning this tournament. I think I’m still dreaming. When you are playing the best player in the world, Rafa Nadal, who has won two of last three Wimbledons, I had to be on top of my game and I think I played my best grass-court match ever.”
Not only has Djokovic taken Nadal’s Wimbledon crown, but the Serb will also unseat the Spaniard from his 56-week reign at the top of the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings when the new numbers are released on Monday. He will be the fourth player to debut at No. 1 after winning a major, and the first to do so following a Wimbledon victory.
Djokovic will be the 25th player to reach No. 1 and the first person other than Nadal or Roger Federer to hold down the top spot since Andy Roddick held the ranking for 13 weeks from 3 November 2003 to 2 February 2004. He is also the one to break the Nadal-Federer
eight-year stronghold at Wimbledon since Lleyton Hewitt claimed the 2002 title.
“I just want to congratulate Novak and his team for the victory today and his amazing season,” said Nadal. “Always Wimbledon for me was the most special tournament, just to be here is a dream. When I won here in 2008 the emotions was very high, so I can imagine how he is feeling. I will try another time next year.”
The 24-year-old Djokovic captured the second Grand Slam title of his phenomenal season. He has compiled a 48-1 record, taking in the Australian Open (d. Murray) crown and four ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophies among his eight tour-level titles.
It was the third Grand Slam title of his career, with his two triumphs this season adding to his victory at the 2008 Australian Open (d. Tsonga). He is also a two-time runner-up at the US Open, losing to Roger Federer in 2007 and Nadal in 2010, when the Spaniard completed the career Grand Slam.
Between them, Djokovic and Nadal have dominated the 2011 season, with Nadal claiming his 10th Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, the venue where Djokovic suffered his only defeat of the year in the semi-finals (l. to Federer). Consequently both are assured of their places at the year-end Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, an elite eight-player tournament held at The O2 in London.
In claiming victory, Djokovic extended his winning streak over Nadal to five straight matches, closing the gap in the Spaniard’s FedEx ATP Head2Head lead to 16-12. He also defeated the Mallorcan in the finals of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Rome. However, until today, Nadal had held a 5-0 record over Djokovic in their Grand Slam meetings.
The 25-year-old Nadal was bidding to win the Wimbledon trophy for the third time, having previously triumphed in 2008 (d. Federer) and 2010 (d. Berdych). He saw his 20-match winning streak at the All England Club come to an end as he suffered defeat in the title match for the third time, having also lost to Federer in the 2006-2007 finals. The left-hander also had the chance to join Bjorn Borg as the only two players in the Open Era to win the Roland Garros – Wimbledon double three times.