Novak Djokovic Wins Wimbledon – The New York Times
Novak Djokovic won the men’s singles championship at Wimbledon on Sunday, beating Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.
The 6-7 (4) 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 win gave Djokovic, the world’s highest ranked tennis player, his 20th Grand Slam singles title, tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Equally important, it gave Djokovic his third Grand Slam title of the year and positioned him to become the first man in more than half a century to win the Grand Slam calendar when he competes in the ‘US Open later this summer.
Djokovic won the Australian Open in February, the French Open last month and won the Wimbledon title for the sixth time on Sunday, successfully defending the title he won in 2019, the last time Wimbledon has taken place.
Rod Laver was the last man to win the Grand Slam of the calendar year, in 1969. Since then, no male player has come to the US Open with three Grand Slam titles in the same year.
“Winning Wimbledon has always been the mind’s biggest dream as a kid,” said Djokovic, who built his own Wimbledon trophy as a kid. “To stay with a sixth Wimbledon is incredible.”
Djokovic even gave himself a chance to reach the so-called Golden Slam, which is the four major championships plus gold in singles at the Olympics. Djokovic is yet to decide whether he will compete in the Tokyo Olympics, which are expected to start in less than two weeks. He said he could skip the event if Japan does not allow any spectators, a decision made by Japanese officials last week. Steffi Graf is the only player to have completed a Golden Slam in 1988.
Berrettini, a powerful Italian with a booming serve and massive forehand, has been steaming in his first six games at Wimbledon. But he was in his first Grand Slam final against the last player one would want to face, especially with the sport’s most important championship at stake.
Djokovic was playing in his 30th Grand Slam singles final, and he looked quite the veteran champion. At 34, he continues to win championships at an age when champions of the previous generation had long ceased to compete for major titles.
More so, in each of the Grand Slam finals he has played this year, he has beaten a player in his twenties who has been heralded as being ready to start winning championships.
Djokovic destroyed Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final. In Paris last month, he came back from two sets to break the heart of Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece. Then Sunday against Berrettini, Djokovic took care of the business, splitting the 25-year-old’s 130 mph serves as if they were slow softballs.
It is absurd to think that three men have won 60 Grand Slam titles in the past 18 years.
“They are why I am who I am today,” Djokovic said of Federer and Nadal, players he lost to several times early in his career.
Unlike his rivals Federer and Nadal, Djokovic has made it clear that he desperately wants to end his career with the most Grand Slam singles championships.
“I play for history” has become a sort of mantra for him. The statement has become more apt now that he has his sights set on the calendar year of the Grand Slam.
Young players seem to be coming for Djokovic every few games in big tournaments these days. They are quick with big serves and other weapons which, combined with their youth and power, should be enough to topple the king of the sport in a Grand Slam every now and then. So far they have all come empty.
Over the past decade, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have devastated a generation of young challengers, who apparently had the games and the potential to match theirs. More recently, Djokovic has handled the task mostly on his own, crushing spirits and forcing newcomers to check their birth years and do the math. Someday, maybe, he won’t stand on the other side of the net, grabbing all of the sport’s biggest trophies.
At the moment, it’s impossible to guess when this will happen, or even if next-gen players will still be at their peak when it does. Djokovic, it seems, continues to improve.
One of the great grassroots fighters who isn’t known for his net play, Djokovic came to the net 48 times on Sunday and earned 34 of those points, a surprising conversion rate of 71%.
“He is writing the history of the sport,” said Berrettini.
It wasn’t the best version of Djokovic on display on Sunday. There were missed targets and chances to get the job done quickly.
He seemed to have full control of the game from the start. He did what hardly anyone had been able to do against Berrettini in the past two weeks – he took the great Italian out of his rhythm on his serve.
In the first seven games, Djokovic managed to remove just enough balls from Berrettini, sending them back to those two ugly half-circles of dirt and dead grass just in front of the baseline that make bad rebounds and missed shots. . Djokovic took a 5-2 lead and even held a set point, but Berrettini kept fighting, battling through a serve game that lasted almost 15 minutes.
Then Berrettini came to life. With Djokovic serving for the plateau, he started moving Djokovic around the field. On the breaking point, Berrettini shot Djokovic into the net, then connected on a passing shot to return to serve. Three games later, the set was heading for a tiebreaker, the importance of which cannot be overstated. When Djokovic won the first set of a Grand Slam match, he won the match around 97% of the time. When he lost it, he won about 50 percent.
Throughout his career, Djokovic has been as masterful as anyone in tiebreakers, but with Berrettini playing on his toes and crushing his serve, Djokovic quickly found himself with the double set point. With one more ace on the rise, Berrettini turned what looked like a crowning half an hour before into a real game.
And yet, if there’s one thing that has become clear over the past decade, it’s that beating Djokovic in a three-of-five set game is like climbing an extraordinarily high and rugged mountain. A lead of a set may seem like next to nothing.
Like clockwork, Djokovic was back on track, beating Berrettini in the first two service games as he sprinted to take a 4-0 lead in the second set. And even if he would lose three set points and allow Berrettini to put him to work for it, 43 minutes later Djokovic had tied the game to one set apiece.
When Berrettini opened the third game with a double fault, Djokovic stepped up the pressure, pushing Berrettini from side to side and pulling him towards the net. Berrettini posted a half volley to give Djokovic a breaking point, then sliced a backhand into the net to give Djokovic the lead he would never give up.
Leading 5-4 and serving on set point, Djokovic forced Berrettini to a wide forehand which made the end result virtually inevitable. Eleven times, Djokovic had led two sets to one in a Grand Slam final, and eleven times he had won the championship.
Berrettini would have one last breath, securing the first two points as Djokovic served 2-3 in the fourth set. But Djokovic even shot a wild rally that had him run from the back of the backhand corner to near the net on the forehand side to chase a drop shot. When Berrettini sent a long backhand two points later, Djokovic let out his first long roar of the afternoon.
With Berrettini serving in the next game, Djokovic started to moan with every shot. It’s a signal that he’s making that little extra effort to close a game, and in this case, a championship. A cross forehand gave him a shot at the break, and Berrettini did the rest of the job, double faulting to bring the finish line within reach.
When Berrettini sliced a final backhand in the net on Djokovic’s third league point, Djokovic collapsed onto his back and then did what he always does when he wins here – he grabbed a few blades of grass and brought them to his tongue.
It looked like it had a good taste.
“The past 10 years have been an incredible journey,” he said. “It doesn’t end there.”
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