LONDON -- In addition to all the other inherent stress Novak Djokovic faced in playing for the Wimbledon singles title Sunday was something he could not combat, even as he ultimately prevailed over Roger Federer in five stirring sets.
There was almost nothing Djokovic could do to Federer that the seven-time champion had not seen before in the final.
There was little drama Federer had not experienced, both in victory and defeat.
This was one of the best Wimbledon finals in a long, proud history and six years to the day of another considered one of the best -- and another loss for Federer.
When Federer aced Djokovic on championship point trailing 5-4 in the fourth set, he needed to go back only to 2008 and remember his Wimbledon final against Rafael Nadal, when he saved two match points in the fourth-set tiebreak of his eventual defeat.
Or Federer could harken back to his 2009 victory over American Andy Roddick, when, serving at 8-8 in the final set and down 15-40, he came up with two big serves to get back to deuce and then held.
When Federer won five games in a row to force a fifth set against Djokovic on Sunday, he had in his arsenal the experience of fighting off Roddick in that second-set tiebreaker. Every jumping overhead by Federer brought back memories of his winner against Nadal in the 2007 final.
But Sunday, it would not be enough.
"I can't believe I made it to five [sets]," Federer said after Sunday's final. "It wasn't looking good there for a while. I was hoping, who knows, it would maybe be enough."
When Sunday's final match became the longest in his series with Djokovic at 3 hours, 56 minutes, Federer could shrug it off, appreciating the brevity compared to playing the longest Wimbledon men's final in history in 2008, a 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (8), 9-7 Nadal win that lasted 4 hours, 48 minutes.
Going into the match, Federer had previously played the longest set in a Wimbledon final (16-14 vs. Roddick in '09) and the most games (77 against Roddick that year).
Federer avoided comparing this to other Wimbledon finals, particularly victories against Roddick and Andy Murray, but called it "a great match."
"I thought it had everything for fans to like -- the swing of momentum in the first set, him coming back in the second, staying even in the third, all the back and fourth of the fourth set, then the drama of the fifth," he said. "From that standpoint, I thought it was an interesting match. The level I thought was good.
"I don't feel I necessarily played my absolute very best because I couldn't break for over three sets. For me that was disappointing. ... But I thought it was a great match and enjoyed being a part of it."
Federer could also appreciate the drama, but perhaps for a different reason than fans would think.
"It's just nice being in Wimbledon finals, No. 1," he said. "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.