WIMBLEDON, England (CNN) -

Roger Federer and Eugenie Bouchard, one experienced and the other almost a rookie, started as clear crowd favorites in the men's and women's finals at Wimbledon this weekend.

They went 0-for-2 -- but in contrasting fashion.

After Bouchard was crushed by Petra Kvitova on Saturday, Federer was only just denied a record eighth title at the All England Club by Novak Djokovic in a classic Sunday that saw the duo combine for 143 winners and a smallish 56 unforced errors.

The Serb prevailed 6-7 6-4 7-6 5-7 6-4, disappointing most on Centre Court who backed Federer on every shot -- especially when he fell behind 2-1 in sets.

The higher-profile guests in tennis' grandest arena included David Beckham and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The partisans almost got their way too since Federer had the advantage in the fifth after he rallied from 5-2 down in the fourth, saving a match point with an ace originally called long.

He was thus on the verge of becoming the first man since 1948 to win a Wimbledon final after fending off a match point.

"I kept believing and trying to play offensive tennis," Federer, watched by his young twin daughters, told reporters. "I'm happy it paid off in some instances.

"As you can imagine, I'm very disappointed not being rewarded with victory."

Had Djokovic lost -- and don't forget he entered the record books for the wrong reason last year when he was on the other side of the net as Andy Murray ended a 77-year British drought -- it would have gone down as one of the biggest chokes in grand slam history.

Ultimately, Djokovic also prevented Federer -- a month away from his 33rd birthday -- from becoming the oldest men's Wimbledon champion in the Open Era and claiming a record-extending 18th major.

"I could have easily lost my concentration in the fifth and handed him the win, but I didn't and that's why the win has special importance to me," Djokovic told reporters.

It might have been the Swiss' last realistic opportunity to capture a grand slam, though he has been brushed aside before only to rebound.

As for Djokovic, with the boost of confidence he's sure to receive by bagging a seventh grand slam crown, he'll be hard to stop at the US Open and beyond.

Perhaps he can replicate his 2011 form, when he won Wimbledon, the US Open and Australian Open.

"When Novak was No. 1 in 2011, there was no No. 2 or No. 3," Mats Wilander, one of those tied with Djokovic on seven majors, told CNN. "I think Djokovic has the game to not only be No. 1 in the world but remove the challengers that are behind him.

"He has a chance to do that again, especially as the next six, eight, nine months are on his favorite (hard-court) surface. I think he can just run away with things now for the next nine months until we get back to the clay-court season."

Djokovic badly needed this title, as he acknowledged, given he had lost his last five grand slam finals outside Australia. As a bonus, he replaces Nadal as the world No. 1.

The pressure on his coach, Boris Becker, will dip now, if only slightly.

Judging by his shoddy semifinal performance against Grigor Dimitrov, not many would have picked Djokovic to win a second Wimbledon title.

He led by a set then allowed the Bulgarian to find his way into the encounter. It turned into a four-set struggle. Slips on Friday rendered Djokovic frustrated and he took two bad falls Sunday, one necessitating a medical timeout in the fifth.

When Federer broke back early in the fourth set, Djokovic was dragged into another dogfight.

Instead of winning in five sets, Djokovic could have won in three in the pair's 35th meeting and first in a grand slam final since the 2007 US Open.

"I felt like all the sets were very close for me to take," said Djokovic.

Consistently in Federer's service games in the first, Djokovic nonetheless fell behind 3-0 in the tiebreak. He surged, holding a set point on his own serve, but was pegged back to 6-6 with a Federer forehand down the line.