WIMBLEDON, England — Novak Djokovic clutched the most coveted award in his sport, the silver, two-handled trophy presented to the winner of the Wimbledon men’s singles title.
“The All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Championship of the World,’’ the inscription on it reads. The name of every winner is etched on the urn or, since 2009, on a detachable base added when the trophy ran out of room.
No name appears more than Roger Federer’s, which had been etched seven times. Djokovic nearly let it happen again Sunday by blowing a huge fourth-set lead before he captured a taut fifth set to snare the trophy for himself.
Shortly after his 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4 victory for his second Wimbledon title, Djokovic carried the trophy through the hallways of the club. He was greeted by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, known worldwide as William and Kate.
“Thank you for staying all the way through it,’’ Djokovic said to the royal couple.
“It was amazing,’’ the duke said. “Incredible tennis.’’
“Many congratulations,’’ the duchess added.
Pleasantries complete, Djokovic, a 27-year-old from Serbia, took the trophy to a balcony, and a huge throng cheered at the sight of the man and his prize. For the tournament’s top-seeded player, it was a celebration of elation and relief.
The victory was Djokovic’s seventh Grand Slam title, drawing him even with John McEnroe and Mats Wilander in eighth place on the career list. More important, it upended Djokovic’s recent struggles in finals of majors: He had lost three in a row and five of his past six.
Last year at Wimbledon, Djokovic lost in the final to Andy Murray, who was buoyed by hopes he would become the first British men’s winner in 77 years. Djokovic went on to lose to Rafael Nadal at both last year’s U.S. Open and this spring’s French Open.
“The most special Grand Slam final I’ve played,’’ Djokovic said. “At the time in my career, for this Grand Slam trophy to arrive is crucial, especially after losing several Grand Slam finals in a row. I started doubting, of course, a little bit. I needed this win a lot.’’
No loss would have stung the way one here would have. Djokovic won two of the first three sets and was cruising through the fourth when a metronomic match turned into crowd-pleasing chaos.
The elegant Federer, of Switzerland, does not cede titles easily, especially at Wimbledon, where he was 7-1 in the final. There had been just one service break in the first three sets, but there were five in the fourth. Federer, 32 and seeded fourth, rallied from a 5-2 deficit by winning five games in a row to send the match to an all-or-nothing decider.
Along the way, serving at 4-5 and trailing 30-40, Federer staved off match point with an ace. The ball was originally called out, but Federer challenged. The video screens at Centre Court displayed an animated replay, and both players and fans learned simultaneously that the match would continue.
“It’s really only until the fourth set when I was down a break that I started to understand more how to return him, which was a surprise for me because I’ve played him that many times,’’ Federer said.
Increasingly, Federer tried to shorten points by approaching the net, a serve-and-volley style that evoked memories of Federer’s first Wimbledon title, 11 years ago to the day.
After the upheaval of the fourth set, the fifth returned to form. The men held serve, sometimes precariously, through the first nine games.
It was Federer, serving at 4-5, who could not do it again. He flubbed one backhand into the net to trail, 0-30. At 15-40, another backhand splashed weakly into the net. Djokovic’s arms raised to the sky, lifting the fans from their seats for a standing ovation.
Djokovic plucked grass from the court and ate it, as he did when he won in 2011.
“It tastes like the best meal I ever had in my life,’’ he said.
During the trophy presentation, Djokovic dedicated the victory to his fiancée, Jelena Ristic, and their first child, due in the fall.
Federer stood nearby, subdued and unaccustomed to losing at Centre Court. Before Sunday, only Nadal, in 2008, had beaten Federer in a Wimbledon final.
But merely reaching the final was a success of sorts. Federer lost last year in the second round, his earliest Grand Slam exit in more than a decade. His ranking fell precipitously, from No. 2 in May 2013 to No. 8 in January.
There was speculation that the end of his career was at hand, but Federer never seriously considered retirement. He and his wife, Mirka, welcomed a second set of twins to the family this spring, coinciding with Federer’s rejuvenated play.
A bit more than a month from his 33rd birthday, Federer nearly became the oldest man to win Wimbledon in the Open era, nearly a year older than Arthur Ashe was when he won in 1975.
Federer will rise to No. 3. Djokovic will move past Nadal and into the No. 1 ranking that he last held in September.
“Winning or losing, it’s always something special and something you’ll remember, even more so when the match was as dramatic as it was today,’’ Federer said. “It’s even more memorable when I see my kids there with my wife and everything. That’s what touched me the most, to be quite honest. The disappointment of the match itself went pretty quickly.’’
Federer and Djokovic were familiar foes, playing for the 35th time in their careers and the 12th in a Grand Slam tournament. But the match represented only the second time they had played in the final of a major, the other a Federer victory at the 2007 U.S. Open.
Djokovic and Federer spent the first set trading mirror-image shots and long rallies, and it felt for a time that they were holding something back, as if not wanting to fully reveal their strategies.
Federer escaped two set points in the first-set tiebreak. He dismissed the second with a 122 mph ace and then followed with a 123 mph one. Djokovic gave away the set with a backhand into the net. The crowd, behind Federer, cheered his resilience.
But Djokovic soon had a bead on Federer’s serve. Djokovic broke his opponent with his dependable two-handed backhand aimed crosscourt, the same shot that foiled Federer on many of his early serve-and-volley attacks.
The players continued to hold serve through all 12 games of the third set leading to another tiebreak. This time, Djokovic was the stronger, steadier performer. Federer ended the final rally with an unconvincing backhand that floated wide, giving Djokovic control of a match about to spin toward uncertainty.
When it finally ended, Federer was the one walking away without the winner’s trophy.
It is uncertain, of course, whether either man will have his name etched on it again. But one thing about that trophy: No matter how unsettled the final match might be, how many leads are kept or lost, the end result cannot be erased.