Novak Djokovic ended his Grand Slam drought and Roger Federer’s hopes of a record eighth Wimbledon title with a thrilling five-set victory.
The Serb, 27, came through 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 6-4 to win his second Wimbledon and seventh Grand Slam title.
After letting a championship point slip in the fourth set, he won Wimbledon’s first five-set final since 2009.
Djokovic had lost his previous three major finals, and will now reclaim the number one ranking from Rafael Nadal.
“After losing the fourth set it wasn’t easy to go on and win the fifth set, I don’t know how I did it,” Djokovic told BBC Sport.
“This is the best tournament in the world and the one I always wanted to win so to be able to compete at such a high level I am so grateful.”
Federer, 32, had hoped to surpass Pete Sampras with an eighth title and become the oldest winner in modern times.
The Swiss was willed on by much of the 15,000-strong crowd throughout the final, with chants of “Roger! Roger!” ringing around Centre Court when he reeled off five successive games from 5-2 down in the fourth set.
But Djokovic recovered his nerve to fend off break points in the decider and clinch a dramatic win after three hours and 56 minutes, before kneeling on the turf and eating some grass – just as he had done after winning in 2011.
He then headed into the stands to celebrate with his team, including three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker, brought in by Djokovic at the start of the year to help end his run of 18 months without a major win.
With seven Grand Slam titles to his name now, Djokovic moves alongside the likes of John McEnroe and Mats Wilander – 10 behind Federer at the top of the all-time list.
The Swiss took a desperately tight first set on the tie-break after saving two set points but, after a heavy tumble early in the second, Djokovic finally broke the fourth seed with a backhand pass to lead 2-1 – only the second time in the tournament the Swiss had dropped serve.
A huge fist pump in the direction of his player box followed when he saw out the set, and despite Federer landing 83% of first serves and hitting 13 aces in the third set, the Serb took the tie-break when Federer’s forehand let him down.
Victory was within sight when Djokovic twice moved ahead in the fourth, but Federer recovered the first break with a magnificent forehand winner, and then launched an astonishing comeback from 5-2 down.
A nervous Djokovic slipped to 0-30 when serving for the title and could only watch while sprawled on the turf as Federer guided a forehand into the open court on break point.
The Serb’s mind might now have been racing but his return game remained potent enough to earn a championship point at 5-4, only for Hawk-Eye to confirm that Federer’s serve had kept the contest alive.
In under 10 minutes, the Serb would go from the brink of victory to an unwelcome fifth set as another edgy, error-strewn service game allowed Federer to go on and close out the fourth.
Riding a wave of adrenaline and overwhelming support in the decider, the Swiss had his chance at 3-3 but failed to convert a break point.
Federer brilliantly played his way out of three break points in the following game but Djokovic’s mind had now cleared and he was in the ascendancy again.
With the advantage of serving first in the decider, Djokovic made it to 5-4 and was able to hit freely, earning another two championship points and raising his arms in triumph when Federer netted a backhand on the second.