Some tears at the end
Djokovic is now level with his idol Pete Sampras in terms of Grand Slam titles won, claiming a share of the third-largest trophy haul in the men’s game behind Roger Federer on 20 majors, and Rafael Nadal on 17. “There is a lot of significance of me being now shoulder to shoulder in terms of Grand Slam wins with him,” he said. “It’s truly incredible when you think about it. I watched him win one of his first Wimbledon championships, and I grew up playing and thinking that one day I’ll be able to do what he does. To actually be here, it’s a dream come true.”
Back in 2002, Sampras claimed the most unlikely of his 14 major triumphs on that same court, at the same age; it proved to be the American’s last ever match. But don’t expect Djokovic to follow suit; if anything, the events of the past four months must surely encourage him to redouble his efforts to stay in the game as long as possible.
The same is true of Del Potro, whose tears at the end of the 6-3 7-6(4) 6-3 defeat continued long after the trophy ceremony. “To be honest, I was crying till now,” he revealed during his press conference. But these were not tears borne out of the record nine-year gap between his two Grand Slam final appearances, or in recognition of how far he’d come since those days he contemplated calling time on his career on account of his battered wrists.
"I'm very sad for being a loser today"
Instead, they were the tears of a player who not only knows how rare such opportunities are, but just how close he had come to a second title. It was the result that stung, not the lost years leading up to this stellar 2018 season. In his heart, he knows he is a contender once more, and for that, the sport should be truly grateful.
“I’m very sad for being a loser today,” Del Potro said. “But Novak deserved to take the trophy. He played a great match, very smart game. I had my opportunities during second and third set, but I was playing almost at the limit all the time, looking for winners with my forehands, backhands, and I couldn’t make it because Novak was there every time. He’s a great champion, so I’m glad for him.”