Novak Djokovic broke the resolve of Roger Federer and the hearts of the Centre Court crowd as he battled his way to a fifth Wimbledon title in the most dramatic fashion.
This was a curiosity that turned into a classic, and it ended with a 122-minute deciding set that culminated in a first singles tie break at Wimbledon that came at 12-12.
That concluded with Djokovic taking it 7-3 when the 37-year-old Swiss skied a return out of court after four hours and 57 minutes of battling, the longest men’s final ever.
Djokovic now has 16 Grand Slam titles, while Federer stays on 20. In the fullness of time he will wonder how he did not win it because he had the chances, not least when he served for it at 8-7 in the fifth.
Arms stiffening with tension, it was Djokovic who held the more steady at the start of the tiebreak to get ahead to 4-1 and from there Federer could not get back.
It had been in many ways a match of contradictions, with the figures being in favour of Federer during the sets but his level dropping a crucial points in the tiebreak, which saw him make damaging unforced errors.
Federer had what chances there were in the first set before unravelling at the very end. He forced a first break point at 2-2, only to hit a wild inside out forehand that went into the tramlines.