Novak Djokovic dispatched Australian Nick Kyrgios to win a fourth consecutive Wimbledon, his seventh career title at the All England Club and his 21st overall major, moving one shy of Rafael Nadal‘s men’s singled record.
“He’s a bit of a god,” Kyrgios said.
The top-seeded Djokovic overcame the powerful and polarizing Kyrgios 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3) in a final that he correctly predicted would include fireworks.
Kyrgios provided them, as he often does. It began with an underhand serve and between-the-legs baseline shot in an otherwise sublime first set (points both won by Djokovic) where the 40th-ranked Aussie won 15 consecutive points on his serve and hit 14 winners to four unforced errors.
“I played a Slam final against one of the greatest of all time, and I was right there,” said Kyrgios, who barely slept the previous two nights with anxiety after getting a semifinal walkover due to Nadal’s abdominal tear. “I thought I dealt with the pressure pretty well.”
Kyrgios, who had never been to a major semifinal before this tournament, did not keep up the torrid pace. As Djokovic turned the momentum, Kyrgios began chirping at the umpire (receiving an audible obscenity warning) and his player box and grew frustrated that a female fan made noise during one service game.
Djokovic also lived up to his reputation, weathering Kyrgios’ early power and seizing the opportunities when the Aussie let up. He rallied from love-40 and 40-love deficits to win a game late in the second and third sets. In the deciding tiebreak, Kyrgios squandered his first three service points.
“I knew that [composure] probably was one of the key elements today in order to win against him,” Djokovic said. “Not that he’s not composed, but he has never played in a Wimbledon finals. We know that also he kind of has his ups and downs in the match.”
Centre Court rises again for one of its great champions
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 10, 2022
Djokovic tied childhood idol Pete Sampras at seven Wimbledon titles, one shy of Roger Federer‘s male record.
“I saw Pete Sampras win his first Wimbledon in ’92 [editor’s note: 1993], and I asked my dad and mom to buy me a racket,” Djokovic said. “It always has been and will be the most special tournament in my heart.”
Federer, 40, hasn’t played a match since last year’s Wimbledon quarterfinals but is expected to return this fall, after the U.S. Open. Federer said last Sunday at a Centre Court ceremony, in a suit and tie, that he hopes to return to Wimbledon “one more time.”
Nadal is the man in Djokovic’s sights now, though. A year ago, Djokovic won Wimbledon to tie his two longtime rivals for the men’s record 20 majors. Since, Nadal came back from thoughts of retirement due to chronic foot pain to win the Australian Open and French Open.
Djokovic closed the gap Sunday, but he might miss the next two majors because of his decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Foreign national air travelers to the U.S. are required to be fully vaccinated. The U.S. Open starts in late August. He’s currently barred from entering Australia until 2025 due to his deportation fiasco at January’s Australian Open.
If Djokovic isn’t cleared for either event, his next Slam will be at Nadal’s house, the French Open, when Djokovic will be nearly the same age (36 years and a handful of days) that Nadal was when he won his 22nd major.
“I’ll wait, hopefully, for some good news from USA,” Djokovic said, “because I would really love to go there.”
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