Two years after his last Grand Slam title, Novak Djokovic is a major champion once again, sweeping Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (3) on Sunday to win his fourth Wimbledon championship.
Both players were coming off grueling five-set semifinals, but this matchup was a tidy affair, with No. 12 Djokovic wrapping up the title in just over 2 hours, 15 minutes.
"There is no better place in the world to really be making a comeback," Djokovic said. "This is a sacred place for the world of tennis."
The first set lasted 29 minutes, as Djokovic opened the match with a break of the No. 8-seeded Anderson. Djokovic broke again for a 4-1 lead and lost just three points on his own serve in the opening set.
Anderson called for the trainer and began receiving treatment on his right arm at the conclusion of the first set.
The second set was equally smooth sailing for Djokovic, but both players held serve in the third. Anderson nearly managed to extend the match, holding five set points to force a fourth set. Djokovic held steady, saving all five of those, then was as superior in the tiebreaker as he was for most of the sun-drenched afternoon.
Djokovic and Anderson won the two longest semifinals in Wimbledon history to get to the title match. Anderson played for more than 6½ hours before edging John Isner 26-24 in the fifth set Friday. Djokovic needed 5 hours, 15 minutes to get past Rafael Nadal in a match that ended Saturday.
"I'm definitely not feeling as fresh now as I was coming into the week," Anderson said.
Djokovic hadn't won a major since the 2016 French Open, which had completed a stretch in which he won all four Slams in succession. He dealt with an injured right elbow that needed surgery and forced him off the tour for the last half of 2017. As his losses accumulated, his ranking fell out of the top 20 for the first time in more than a decade. He grew so frustrated with his form that he spoke about skipping the grass-court circuit.
Fortunately for him, he changed his mind.
"There were several moments where I was frustrated and questioning whether I can get back on desired level or not," Djokovic said. "But that makes this whole journey even more special for me."
Djokovic had an extra person join his player box to celebrate. The Serb's 3-year-old son, Stefan -- who is too young to be allowed to watch the match from inside Centre Court -- arrived in time to see his father lift the trophy.
"It feels amazing because the first time in my life I have someone screaming, 'Daddy, Daddy,'" Djokovic said.
He improved to 6-1 all time against Anderson, including a 3-0 record at the All England Club.
It is Djokovic's 13th major trophy, the fourth-highest total in the history of men's tennis, trailing only Roger Federer's 20, Nadal's 17 and Pete Sampras' 14.
Anderson continues to seek his first major title. Sunday's was only his second Grand Slam final; he was the runner-up to Nadal at last year's US Open.
He was so out of sorts, his strokes so off-the-mark, that Djokovic gathered eight of the first 10 games even though he conjured up only two winners. No need for more, because Anderson gifted him 15 unforced errors in that span.
"The first two sets,'' said Anderson, "Novak beat up on me pretty bad."
By the conclusion of a third consecutive dud of a straight-sets men's singles final at the All England Club, Anderson had made 32 unforced errors, the steady Djokovic merely 13.
Another key: Djokovic was able to handle Anderson's big serves much better than previous opponents. Widely considered the top returner in the game today, Djokovic broke Anderson four times. Consider that Anderson held in each of his final 27 service games against Isner.
And one more: Djokovic saved all seven break points he faced, including five that would have given Anderson the third set.
As much as Djokovic is known for his body-bending defense and unerring reads on opponents' serves, he's also someone who fills his matches with histrionics and exaggerated reactions, whether violently smacking the side of his shoe with his racket -- as he did against Nadal -- or tearing off his shirt to celebrate a victory.
This day was no different. Angered by fans making noise during points, he told the chair umpire to tell them to shut up, adding a colorful word in there. He pointed to his ear after winning one point, as if to say: "Who are you cheering for now?!" He blew a kiss toward the stands after another.
But when he broke Anderson for the second time in three service games at the outset, Djokovic simply shook a clenched fist while calmly looking at his guest box above the scoreboard.
It was so lopsided for the first hour-plus that spectators began pulling for Anderson, likely in the hopes of getting more tennis for the price of their tickets, which carry a face value of 210 pounds (about $275).
When Anderson pushed a forehand return into the net to end it, Djokovic exhaled. After they shook hands, Djokovic performed his ritual of bending down to grab a couple of blades of grass and putting them in his mouth, savoring the triumph.
"The grass tasted really well," joked Djokovic, who did the same after his Wimbledon titles in 2011, 2014 and 2015. "I had a double portion this year, to treat myself."