It was the Wimbledon final no-one saw coming. Granted, the presence of Novak Djokovic at a Grand Slam final has come to be expected these days, particularly given that he’s just about one most of them since ascending the player rankings and amassing a staggering 21 Grand Slam singles titles to his name. But his opponent on the other side of the net was a man unfamiliar to such competitive environments. Though Aussie fans and tennis greats have long known Nick Kyrgios to have talent that far outweighs his boisterous personality on the court, finally it seemed the two aligned and Kyrgios wasn’t just showing off for the crowd, but stunning his opponent in the process.
When Kyrgios took the first set, Djokovic appeared somewhat stunned and for many, the game was anyone’s to lose. But true to form, the Joker once again proved why he’s become one of the best to have ever played the game, showcasing the kind of defensive play that rattles opponents, with a dogged tenacity that sees him bounce back from defeat with a mere change of sides. While Djokovic won the match 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6, the performance from both players provided one of the greatest finals fans have witnessed, making news of another match-up between the pair a source of great delight.
As all attention now turns to the players set to compete at the Australian Open (and those that have unfortunately had to withdraw due to injury), it’s been announced that Kyrgios will play an exhibition match against Djokovic in the lead up to the event. Craig Tiley confirmed the news, calling it an “extravaganza”.
Tickets will be sold for the match, which could see Rod Laver Arena filled to capacity, and all proceeds will go to charity. The pair last squared off at Wimbledon, and Djokovic has continued to voice his support for Kyrgios, particularly after the Aussie was so vocal about his support for the Serbian during last year’s deportation saga.
For fans hoping Kyrgios might clinch his first Grand Slam title on Australian soil, the announcement is also good news after the tennis star previously pulled out of the United Cup at the last minute, citing an ankle injury. Now, Kyrgios says he’s ready to go. As for Djokovic, the match will be his first in Melbourne since last year’s drama surrounding his visa. Even so, he says he holds “no grudges” over the incident and has received nothing but love since his arrival in Australia, where he played and won the Adelaide International.
Tiley said he’s confident Djokovic will face no backlash in Melbourne. “He really enjoyed the experience in South Australia and he was welcomed…he loved it there,” said Tiley. “I love that our fans are sporting fans and are among the most educated and appreciate greatness. They appreciate players like Novak that have won this event nine times. Novak is back and I’m pretty confident that the Melbourne fans – similar to the experience he had in Adelaide – will be just as good.”