Novak Djokovic defeated Nick Kyrgios after four thrilling sets to claim his seventh Wimbledon title in what was a nail-biting showdown at the All England Club on Sunday.
The Serbian star dropped the first set but stormed back to win the next three, outpacing a spirited Kyrgios in the match’s final throes to win his 21st Grand Slam crown – and his first since he bested Matteo Berrettini in last year’s final.
The result when all was said and done saw Djokovic claim the trophy by a score of 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 – but the early exchanges suggested that there might be a seismic shock on the cards at SW19.
Kyrgios’ much-vaunted power serve game launched the Australian into an early lead, with Djokovic struggling to contain an array of aces which whistled by him. There was no respite on second serve either, with Kyrgios arguably showcasing the most powerful second serves seen on Center Court since the heady days of Pete Sampras’ dominance in the 1990s.
But it wasn’t long before Djokovic began to show off his own craft. By the early exchanges on the second set it appeared as though he had begun to get a grasp on Kyrgios’ service games, and the match fell into a rhythm to which he was more comfortable.
The fiery Kyrgios tried his best to keep pace but his occasional rants at the audience (and even his own support team) suggested that he felt that his first ever Grand Slam final was slipping through his fingers.
Ultimately, he was right – and one unfortunate (and apparently quite vocal) lady sitting in the crowd took the brunt of Kyrgios’ ire as the Aussie demanded to the umpire that she be ejected – the result, he said, of her decision to consume “about 700 drinks” .
Interjections such as these are common practice at a Nick Kyrgios match but this time it came in a package which also contained some breathtaking tennis, and even his now trademark between-the-legs shot.
The first set even had a Kyrgios underarm serve; a shot which drew an audible gasp from the packed Center Court. On another occasion, a sublime drop shot flummoxed Djokovic prompting the Serbian ace to clap in Kyrgios’ direction.
But the key to the match was Djokovic’s ability to read his opponent and take away his best weapon – that thunderous serve which is the centerpiece of his arsenal. Once that threat was addressed, Djokovic cooly placed his opponent into longer rallies, drawing him away from the baseline before aiming laser-sighted shots down the tramlines.
By the time the fourth set tiebreak came around, it appeared a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’, and Djokovic again triumphed on the sport’s biggest stage.
The victory puts him one behind Rafael Nadal in the all-time list of Grand Slam wins, and also places him alongside Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer as the only man to have won four Wimbledon titles in a row.
“Nick – you’ll be back, not just in Wimbledon but in finals,” Djokovic said of his opponent soon after collecting the trophy.
“I know it’s tough to find consolation words after a tough loss like this but you showed you deserve to be the best in the world especially on this surface, after this tournament, I wish you all the best.
“I really respect you a lot, you are an amazing talent and now everything is starting to come together for you. I never thought I would say so many nice things about you considering the relationship. OK it’s officially a bromance.
“The winner buys dinner – that’s why he lost. I don’t know if we’re going to make it happen tonight but this is the start of a wonderful relationship between us. I didn’t respond to the nightclub question because my wife was next to me but let’s start with dinner and drinks.
“I am lost words for what this tournament and this trophy means to me. It always has been and will be the most special one in my heart. It motivated me to play in my small mountain resort and I saw Pete Sampras win and I asked my mum and dad to buy me a racket.
“It was my first image of tennis – every single time it gets more meaningful and I’m blessed to be standing here with the trophy.
“It is the most special tennis court in the world and when you walk on the untouched grass and everything is so directed on the tennis, the players’ ball and racquet and it has the most recognition in the world.”
After a year which saw him expelled from Australia before having a chance to defend his Australian Open crown and suffer a quarter-final exit at the French Open, Djokovic’s dominance at Wimbledon shows no sign of slowing.
And who would bet against him extending his legacy again next year?
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