As the tennis broadcaster Mary Carillo put it this week, there are comebacks, and then there are come-all-the-way-backs. By seizing Sunday’s Wimbledon final in straight sets, Novak Djokovic put himself firmly in the second camp.
Two years and five weeks ago, Djokovic completed arguably the greatest feat of Open era tennis by landing a fourth straight major title in Paris. In the era of the Big Four, this was such an absurd achievement that it literally boggled our minds, as if Djokovic had just eaten a car.
But he paid a price for his supremacy. Twelve months of absolute rule took so much out of Djokovic that he has been recovering ever since, both mentally and physically. Oddly, it turns out to be the grass – once his weakest surface – that has brought him back to himself.
Djokovic has played only three finals on the world tour in the last 14 months. He won Eastbourne last year, finished as runner-up at Queen’s three weeks ago and on Sunday lifted a fourth title on Centre Court.
As he ascends the ladder of Open-era Wimbledon champions, now standing behind only Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg, anyone would think that he came from Sussex rather than Serbia.