LONDON -- Call it a trial by fire, and every great Wimbledon champion goes through it a few times in his career: the long crawl back out of a deep hole against an opponent with a big serve.
Djokovic went on to win it, 6-7 (6), 6-7 (6), 6-1, 6-4, 7-5, in 3 hours, 47 minutes. He said immediately afterward: "It was one of the most difficult matches of my career. The way Kevin serves, at times I felt helpless out there."
Here are the takeaways from the match:
1. Self-service: Anderson will hold serve -- it's a given. But Djokovic's ability to force long sets by taking care of his own serve helped force Anderson to pay a high price in concentration and effort for each of the tiebreaker sets he won.
2. The iron-man factor: Djokovic improved his five-set record to an outstanding 25-8. It was his fourth comeback from two sets down, and his first since he edged Andreas Seppi at the 2012 French Open.
3. The soft underbelly: Anderson might have gotten over the hump had he capitalized on more break points. Each one reached against a player of Djokovic's caliber is a golden opportunity, yet Anderson was able to convert just one of eight.
4. Coming up clutch: Djokovic struggled early in the fifth set, but he survived a pair of break points to level the set at 2-all. Serving to stay in the match at 4-5, Djokovic played his best game of the final set, winning four straight points. He ended the game with an ace.
5. Falling on your own sword: Anderson pounded down 40 aces, which helped bring his total in the match to 71 winners. Yet Anderson hit his last of seven double faults at 5-5, 15-30 in the fifth set. On the next point, Djokovic fired a terrific crosscourt forehand service return that Anderson couldn't handle dig out. Djokovic then served it out.