On Centre Court in 2008, Rafael Nadal dethroned Roger Federer as the world's best player. On Sunday, Novak Djokovic did the same to Nadal in winning his first Wimbledon title, consolidating his new No. 1 ranking and leaving little doubt as to who's the tennis player of the moment.
Two days after becoming the No. 1 player in the world, Djokovic defeated Nadal 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 in Sunday's men's final to win his first Wimbledon title and the third Grand Slam of his career. It was a thorough clinic of tennis that saw Djokovic out-Nadal Nadal with brilliant defense and an ability to turn around rallies in a single stroke. Nadal, the defending champion, played poorly but that was dictated by Djokovic rather than an indictment of Nadal's abilities in the match.
Barring injury or a disastrous U.S. Open, Djokovic is almost assured of finishing the year at No. 1. He's 48-1 in 2011, has won two Grand Slams and carries a 5-0 record against his biggest rival during this calendar year. If not for Roger Federer playing the greatest clay court match of his life in the French Open semifinal, it's not unreasonable to think that Djokovic could be three-quarters of the way to a Grand Slam right now. That's how mind-boggling his season has been.
The loss was Nadal's first ever in a Grand Slam final to anyone other than Roger Federer and his first in his last 21 matches at Wimbledon. Djokovic moves to 3-2 in major finals and will enter the U.S. hard court season as a favorite to extend his No. 1 ranking and enter the U.S. Open as the prohibitive favorite.
After the match, Djokovic said this was the biggest day of his life. "It makes me believe all the hard work I put in these past 20 years has paid off," he told John McEnroe on NBC.
Nadal told McEnroe that he missed some opportunities to take the match to a fifth set and made mistakes he hadn't been making in previous rounds. But, he said, it may not have mattered.
"I played against the best player of the moment," he said.