Roger Federer accepted his Wimbledon final loss in the same stylish fashion as he’s graced London’s hallowed courts for the past 16 years.
Federer paid tribute to Novak Djokovic’s class and resistance after the world No.1 ground out a spirited 7-6 (7-1) 6-7 (10-12) 6-4 6-3 over the seven-times champion on Sunday.
In a phenomenal display of counter-punching, Djokovic withstood 58 winners from the great Swiss and made just 16 unforced errors in four sets and almost three hours to reign supreme for a third time at the All England Club.
The defeat denied 33-year-old Federer another chapter in the record books as the oldest grand slam champion in professional tennis and also extended his barren run at the majors to three years since he last reigned at the All England Club in 2012.
But he will depart London with few regrets and feeling good about his game after difficult seasons in 2013 and 2014 battling injuries and not performing at his best.
“It would have been nicer to win some than to lose some,” Federer said.
“At the same time, I lost against the world No.1 at the moment. That’s the kind of guy you probably can lose against.
“But I’m not going to accept it and say it’s normal. It’s not. I’ve beaten him a few times. I’m one of the few guys that’s gotten a chance.
“Same with Stan (Wawrinka at the French Open) and a few guys that have given Novak a run for the money.
“Clearly I was always going to believe hard today that I was going to come through as the winner, but still always being humble knowing how tough it was going to be.
“I think I was able to show that on the court today, how close it really was. Even though at the end it might look routine, but I don’t think that was the case.
“So I’m right there. My game is good. I got broken very few times this tournament. I played on my terms. Things are all right.”
Federer’s second consecutive loss to Djokovic in the title match consolidated his position as the world No.2 and the free-rolling father of four says life is good.
“I still think I had a great tournament. You can have good tournaments without winning as well at the end,” Federer said.
“I still won six matches, lost one. The ratio still remains very good.
“But of course you sort of walk away empty-handed. For me a finalist trophy is not the same. Everybody knows that.
“Thankfully I’ve won here in the past, so it does not feel like I’m chasing anything.”
Djokovic’s victory propelled the Serb above some of the legends of tennis into outright eighth place on the all-time grand slam leaderboard with nine majors.
Federer says it’s not telling where the 28-year-old may end up by the time he finishes.
“He’s clearly making a big name for himself, having won as many times now as he has in these different slams,” he said.
“But also his streak at world No.3, 2, 1, keeping it up, keeping it going, winning a lot of titles time and time again.
“Staying injury-free now for him is crucial. Clearly he’s going to be one of the top guys.
“Where, we’ll still have to wait and see. I’m sure he still has many more great years ahead of him.”