Both players looked out on their feet after almost five hours of compelling combat but, as he had done in the day's two other tiebreaks, Djokovic held his nerve to crush Federer's dream of claiming a ninth title and becoming the oldest man to win a Grand Slam in the professional era.
Novak Djokovic has won the fifth Wimbledon title of his career, defeating Roger Federer 7-6 1-6 7-6 4-6 13-12 in an incredible final on Monday morning that will go down as one of the most memorable deciders ever seen at the All England Club.
Roger Federer lost the longest Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic after engaging in an equally competitive battle for a little less than five hours. I had answers so did he and we played some great tennis.
World Number three, Roger Federer's 21st Grand Slam was just one shot away from him, but the Serb's mental stability was the linchpin to his courageous performance on the Centre Court on Sunday.
Djokovic won a lengthy first set via tiebreak before Federer stormed back with a dominant second set in which he broke Djokovic three times.
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He did not play singles, and lost his men's doubles match with teammate Pierre-Hugues Herbert (France) on Saturday. The discrepancy between Williams' achievements and those of Riske could not have been more stark.
When asked if he would have preferred to lose comfortably rather than becoming the first man to lose a Wimbledon final after being up championship point since 1948, Federer said: "It's hard to tell". I don't know what I feel right now.
Djokovic moved 6-3 ahead and, after the final point had to be replayed following a Hawkeye challenge, he could celebrate victory when a tired Federer framed a forehand.
"I thought I could have played better. You have that kind of electric atmosphere, that kind of noise, especially in some decisive moments where we're quite even", Djokovic said.
For now, Djokovic is content enough after emulating the five-time Wimbledon feats of legendary Swede Bjorn Borg (1976-80) and Englishman Laurie Doherty (1902-1906) in the most extraordinary fashion.
Djokovic also insisted he had pictured how the final would play out, appreciating that Federer was, as always, the sentimental favourite. He ended the five-set and nearly five-hour match having won 14 more points than his opponent, and hit 32 more winners than unforced errors compared to a ratio of just plus two for Djokovic. "I was hoping to get to the tie break", he said. Two missed match points are unbelievable. "You try to forget, try to take the good things out of this match". This victory meant he would become world No 1 again and he said afterwards: 'I don't know how I did it'.