For a man who has made a career out of overturning deficits, Novak Djokovic losing the first set in big games is perhaps a sign of order in this fragmented world. On the centre court in Wimbledon, the plot unfolded on expected lines as Nick Kyrgios put up a clinical show to go 1-0 up. Djokovic, however, hardly blinked in the rest of the game, wrapping it up in four sets to clinch his 7th Wimbledon title.
“I’m obviously over the moon with joy and happiness of experiencing this moment once again,” Djokovic said in the post-match conference.
Wimbledon is not even his most successful major, and yet he has won the whole thing now four times in a row, joining the illustrious list of Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras, and Roger Federer. Djokovic also became the first men’s tennis player to win at least seven titles in two of the grand slams: the other being the Australian Open where he has a record nine titles to show for.
“I’ve said it many times, this tournament is extra special for me because it has been the first tournament that I’ve ever watched as a kid that got me to start playing tennis,” added Djokovic. “It’s not a coincidence that this place has such relevance in my life and career. It’s a relief, as well, considering what I’ve been through of course this year. It adds more value and more significance and more emotions, of course.”
After being deported from Australia earlier this year, and getting outclassed in French Open, Djokovic needed a win here to stay close to his arch-rival Rafael Nadal in terms of grand slam count. If there’s no change in the visa protocol in the near future, the US Open now seems like a distant dream for Djokovic, who has refused to be vaccinated. Thus the stakes were high for the Serb, and he was against an opponent who hadn’t yet conceded a set to him.
Kyrgios, for all his failings, has a unique ability to raise his game when he is up against big opponents. On Sunday, he started on a brilliant note, sweeping up the first set cleanly, with the help of his big serves and varied strokes. He made his first serve count, but even better was his drop shot execution, which had so far helped him prevent his opponents from settling into the game. He earned a major break after Djokovic double-faulted on the break point, and then just held on to his lead to go 1-0 up.
But things turned around quickly in the second set, where Djokovic won 43% of the points while receiving. Djokovic was on the verge of conceding a break, after going down 0-40 in the ninth game. But he managed to hang by the skin of the teeth, and level the game at 6-3. Similarly, in the third set, Djokovic’s first break of the game came from a position of 0-40. He then held on to his serve to overturn the deficit. It was a clinical set from the Serb, who recorded a mere two unforced errors and 14 winners.
Kyrgios played some of his best tennis and yet he was staring at an inevitable defeat. This is exactly where a mental disintegration starts for Djokovic’s opponent. However, the feisty Australian showed great composure – a quality we never associate with him – and made the eventual champion work hard for every single point. By the end of the third set, Djokovic’s serve started coming well, and he was now earning easy points just by the placement of his serve. If his impeccable return was not already a tough nut, Djokovic’s service game made things harder for Kyrgios, who could only manage to stretch the game to the tie-break.
“He [Djokovic] is a bit of a god, I’m not going to lie,” Kyrgios said in his post-match speech. “I thought I played well, but first of all, congratulations to Novak and your team. I don’t know how many times now.”
Featured Image Credit: @NovakDjokovic/ Instagram