Ben Curtis/Associated Press
2014 Wimbledon Expectations
Novak Djokovic entered Wimbledon ranked No. 2 in the world with a chance to regain the No. 1 spot if several things worked out in his favor. His consistent excellence as well as his six Grand Slam singles titles, including a 2011 victory at Wimbledon, made him one of the favorites this year at Wimbledon.
He had reached at least the semifinals in 15 of the last 16 Grand Slam events, making it almost a forgone conclusion that he would advance deep into the 2014 Wimbledon.
However, Djokovic had not won a major since the 2013 Australian Open, going five straight Grand Slam events without a crown and winning just one of the last nine.
Since his disappointing quarterfinal loss to Stanislas Wawrinka in the Australian Open, Djokovic had won three tournaments and lost just three matches: two to Roger Federer and one to Rafael Nadal.
The Serb did not play any grass-court events leading up to Wimbledon, his last match being the four-set loss to Nadal in the French Open finals. Djokovic has not played any grass-court warmup tournaments the past several years, and that includes 2011, when he won Wimbledon.
2014 Wimbledon Performance
Djokovic's performance while winning his second Wimbledon title was admirable more for his grit and resilience than for the quality of his play.
In truth, the 27-year-old did not play his best tennis through the first six rounds, and he benefited from the fact that he did not have to face a top-10 player to get to the finals. Nonetheless, he found a way to get through in some difficult circumstances.
He got past Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals after being down two sets to one, scratching out a 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-2 victory.
“You're fighting on the court as much as your opponent, and you try to just mentally be strong and find that inner strength that can help you in those particular moments,” Djokovic told the BBC as reported on the ATP website. "That's what helped me.”
Djokovic was erratic in his semifinal match against No. 11-seeded Grigor Dimitrov and was down a triple-set point in the fourth set when the Bulgarian had a 6-3 lead in the tiebreaker. Djokovic again survived 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6, rallying to win the fourth-set tiebreaker 9-7.
Djokovic played his best tennis in the riveting finals against Federer, who had beaten Djokovic twice this year. But again it was Djokovic's resilience that saved him. He let a match-point opportunity get away in the fourth set when Federer aced him, and he squandered three break-point opportunities in the eighth game of the final set after staking himself to a 15-40 lead.
Despite those disappointments and a leg injury that limited his mobility early in the final set, Djokovic persevered for a 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 5-7, 6-4 victory that ended his streak of five straight Grand Slam appearances without a title.
"After losing the fourth set it wasn't easy to go on and win the fifth set, I don't know how I did it," Djokovic said, according to an ABC report.
Djokovic had lost his last three Grand Slam finals and five of his past six, and this victory answered questions about his toughness in pressure moments.
Although the quality of Djokovic's play throughout the tournament was not good enough to award him an A+, the fact that his victory returned him to the No. 1 spot in the rankings earns him the highest grade of the tournament, a few more percentage points than Kvitova on the final grade.
Final Grade: A