Record breaker Djokovic too strong for Federer
Published 12/07/2015 | 18:22
Novak Djokovic spoiled the party for the second year in a row - and now the big celebration may never come.
Djokovic outmuscled, outhustled and outran Roger Federer in a repeat of last year's Wimbledon final, to retain his title and match his coach Boris Becker's All England Club record.
Djokovic deserves huge acclaim for equalling Becker's three Wimbledon triumphs, especially 30 years after the ever-popular German's south west London breakthrough.
This of course, ought to be the focus: the symmetry of mentee matching mentor.
Instead the Serb's ninth major victory merely raised the very real fear that Federer may now never claim his record eighth Wimbledon crown.
All Centre Court marvelled at Djokovic's miraculous staying powers, so often finding that one extra shot required to silence his sublime Swiss opponent.
So too, though, did the aficionados bemoan the cruel fallout for Federer.
Were Federer simply past it and unable even to consider the very notion of an eighth title, the unruffled Swiss would offer a "so be it" shoulder shrug.
But twice in succession to fall at the last; therein lies sport's malicious core.
The ghosts of champions past always encircle Wimbledon's famous arena, but none more so than with two former fierce foes as competitors now locking horns under coaching remit.
Becker got the better of old adversary Stefan Edberg, now Federer's super coach, this time last year, as Djokovic claimed the 2014 title.
Cool Swede Edberg pipped Becker to the 1988 Wimbledon title, before the German, with the famous shock of ginger hair gained revenge - and his third triumph in SW19 - a year on.
Becker got one up on Edberg in 2014, and this time there was to be no levelling out in that rivalry.
Djokovic revealed this week that Becker battles sleepless nights to inspire his charge to grand slam success.
Insomnia paid the greatest dividend as Djokovic was able to pat the grass and pick out a couple of blades to chew, in his now-customary celebration.
Pete Sampras will be forgiven a wry smile.
The notoriously competitive American has hailed Federer as the game's all-time greatest more than once, with the two still level on seven Wimbledon titles apiece.
Publicly he has backed Federer's legacy hunting, but surely some part of him will relish continuing to share that Wimbledon record.
Sampras built a trophy walkway from his Los Angeles home to his private tennis court, so in retirement he could invite the top players out for a hit - and lead them past all that silverware and into battle.
Seasoned winners masters know all the intimidation tactics, even with their feet up.
Sampras was said to be moved to tears by one description of him attaining Zen state in his imperial pomp.
Federer has always boasted a chess grand master edge to his approach, always composing victorious points and thinking five moves ahead of his opponent.
All that ingenuity brimmed to the surface as Federer dispatched Britain's Andy Murray in an ageless semi-final triumph.
Federer's legs weighed ever so slightly heavy against Djokovic though, who prevailed through his niggling ability to grind his way into position time after time.
Djokovic let out a primal roar on victory, venting all the frustrations of losing his third French Open final to Stan Wawrinka in June.
The 28-year-old was magnanimity personified in Roland Garros defeat, but failing at the third attempt to complete the career grand slam burned deep inside.
Demons exorcised in one exclamation, Djokovic has reclaimed his perch atop the world. Remain there consistently and he can yet go down as an all-time great.