Serbia's Novak Djokovic embraces the trophy after beating South Africa's Kevin Anderson 6-2 6-2 7-6 in their men's singles final match at Wimbledon. Picture: Glyn Kirk
Serbia's Novak Djokovic embraces the trophy after beating South Africa's Kevin Anderson 6-2 6-2 7-6 in their men's singles final match at Wimbledon. Picture: Glyn Kirk

‘I melted’: Djokovic’s emotional statement

NOVAK Djokovic has revealed the moment he got to embrace wife Jelena and son Stefan after his Wimbledon triumph was the happiest moment of his career.

In an emotional post on his Instagram page, the former world No. 1 revealed his 13th grand slam crown was the most special of his life.

Written off as a spent force - and even doubting his own famed powers of recovery after seeing his world ranking slump to its lowest in 12 years -  Djokovic swept past a weary Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) in the final, adding the 2018 title to his wins in 2011, 2014 and 2015.

His crowning moment, however, was seeing three-year-old son Stefan watch the trophy ceremony from up in the players' box in the arms of his mother Jelena.

Djokovic admitted in the post that he couldn't handle the perfect moment after his turbulent previous 24 months, which included reports of personal issues within his family.

"First of all, let me start by writing that the feeling of having my son in my wife's arms at the trophy ceremony in the players' box was the most wonderful sensation I have had at any tournament that I have ever won in my career," Djokovic wrote on Instagram.

"When I became a father, one of my biggest dreams was to have my children present at the stands while I am playing. Let alone winning trophies. That dream came true several days ago. Everyone keeps on asking me to describe the feeling.

"I have said it is unforgettable, special, fulfilling, wonderful, joyful. But most of all, it is magical! When I thought that moment could not get any better, he shouted "Daddy, Daddy!". That's when I completely melted. Overwhelmed with emotions. Happy and joyful beyond belief. I am so GRATEFUL to have experienced that.

"I have imagined and prayed that one day I would win a Grand Slam trophy in front of my child. Luckily for me, Tara is growing up and I can't wait for her to see me do the same as I did in front of Stefan. My whole (more or less) was about tennis until I became a father and husband. Everything I did was aimed at tennis success."

He said after his triumph that having his son with him at Wimbledon was the biggest motivational boost his career had received.

"Actually, I didn't talk about it, but it was the biggest motivation I've had for this Wimbledon this year," said the 31-year-old Serb, whose win will return to the top 10 in the world.

"I was imagining this moment of him coming to the stands, cherishing this moment with my wife and me and everyone.

"I never had him in the box watching the tennis match. I was hoping that Wimbledon can be that tournament because he's big enough now I think to stay quiet maybe for 30 minutes or so."

Stefan was not allowed to watch the match itself from courtside as All England Club rules ban under-fives.

But Djokovic had already introduced the toddler around the grounds, even hitting with him in practice.

"He was by far the best sparring partner I had in the last couple of weeks," joked the champion.

Last Sunday's triumph was Djokovic's first at the majors since the French Open in 2016 when he secured the career Grand Slam.

It was his first Slam final since finishing runner-up at the 2016 US Open.

Twelve months ago, his Wimbledon ended in the quarter-finals when an elbow injury forced him to retire against Tomas Berdych.

Djokovic didn't play again in 2017 and underwent surgery, and he admitted last Sunday that he had probably returned to action too soon.

His struggles on the court led to a fourth-round exit at the Australian Open at the hands of Hyeon Chung, then ranked 58th.

Jelena Djokovic and their son applaud after the men's singles final at Wimbledon.
Picture: Ben Curtis/AP
Jelena Djokovic and their son applaud after the men's singles final at Wimbledon. Picture: Ben Curtis/AP

Taro Daniel, the 109-ranked Japanese player, stunned in him in Indian Wells, before Benoit Paire, at 47 in the rankings, knocked him out in Miami.

In what was becoming a familiar tale, Martin Klizan, at 140, ousted Djokovic in Barcelona before a shocking quarter-final loss to world No.72 Marco Cecchinato at Roland Garros even prompted a threat not to play Wimbledon.

 "It was a long journey, especially considering that the elbow injury took me out from the tour for six months," Djokovic said.

"But I got back to the court too fast. I wasn't ready to compete. I did not expect to be back in the top shape at Wimbledon so quickly.

"If you asked me after Roland Garros, I would probably maybe doubt that."

Djokovic said his five-set semi-final victory over old rival Rafael Nadal, a match that lasted five hours and 15 minutes and was the fifth longest ever at Wimbledon, gave him the belief that this could be his year.

It took his record over the Spaniard to 27-25 in their 12-year rivalry.

"I proved something to myself," said Djokovic, the lowest-ranked champion at Wimbledon since Goran Ivanisevic in 2001.

"Playing against Nadal in the semi-finals here was the biggest test that I could have specifically for that, just to see whether I can prevail.

"That's why I spend a lot of energy and I put a lot of effort to win that match."

Djokovic also admitted that Sunday's victory was on a par with his first Wimbledon crown in 2011, which paved the way for him to become world No.1 for the first time.

"I dreamed of winning it when I was a seven-year-old boy. I made a lot of improvised Wimbledon trophies from different materials," he said.

"If I can pick one, that would be probably the first one and this year's winning because my son was at the trophy ceremony, which made it extra special."

- with AP



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