The world No 1 went on to claim his sixth title and a record-equalling 20 Slams overall but admitted the pressure of the opening games with history beckoning had affected his game.
“Definitely I felt more nervous than would usually be the case in that first set,” he said. “So when it ended there was relief. Obviously it wasn’t great that I’d lost it but I just needed to get it over.
“After that I could start to swing through the ball and play the way I wanted. That happened very quickly, four-love up in the second set. The momentum shifted and I felt more comfortable.” Matteo Berrettini presented a “big challenge” but Djokovic felt in control for the rest of the final, even though he sometimes played “too defensive”, which was due to what was at stake for him - “History on the line.”
So does he now rate himself the greatest male player of the Open era? “I consider myself best and believe that I am the best, otherwise I wouldn't be talking confidently about making history. But whether I'm the greatest of all time or not, I leave that debate to other people.
“It's very difficult to compare eras. We have different rackets, technology, balls, courts - completely different conditions. But I am extremely honoured to definitely be part of the conversation.”
Berrettini said: “I’m pissed because I lost, because I don’t think I played my best. But I’ve had an unbelievable time on grass, winning Queen’s and getting to the final here. I know I can win this title so that’s what I’m going to do in the next weeks, months, years - try to lift this trophy.”
Would he want that triumph to come against Djokovic? “I would take the win against anyone but yeah, beating the No 1 would mean more. In Paris I lost to him and he won that title. I lost to him in the final here. My level is growing. My weapons are growing.”