The past year has been something of a tumultuous one for Novak Djokovic. Where it used to be the case that his was a name you could expect on the scoreboard for every Grand Slam final, it came to be replaced instead by Rafael Nadal’s, whose impressive season was sadly cut short due to an abdominal injury sustained during his quarter-final match at Wimbledon. But for Djokovic, who has come to dominate the sport in recent years with his incredible athleticism, defensive shots, and the kind of coverage on the court that leaves his opponents breathless, his stance on Covid-19 vaccination left him off a number of tournaments, including that of the Australian Open.
For some, such an absence at some of the sport’s biggest tournaments left them doubting the champion. And, given that he came up against Nick Kyrgios who, despite his court antics, maintained the fighting spirit of the underdog throughout his Wimbledon campaign, a final between two titans of the men’s game was only ever going to be an exhilarating affair – and that it was.
While Djokovic can only be commended for an incredible performance, praise must also fall on Kyrgios who came running out of the gate with a faultless start. But, with experience on his side, Djokovic knew he only needed to raise his own level to come back strong and that he did, recovering from a set down to go on to defeat Kyrgios 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3). In doing so, he went on to hoist his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title above his head.
In the grand slam race that never ends, Djokovic now inches forward from Roger Federer’s 20 Grand Slam men’s singles wins with 21, while Rafael Nadal continues to lead now with 22. Wimbledon is quickly becoming one of Djokovic’s best tournaments, proving to be his second most successful grand slam as he has now won an impressive seven singles titles, equalling Pete Sampras’ count. He now sits at joint second on the men’s all-time list, behind Federer who has eight titles. In another astonishing feat, Djokovic’s win means he is just the fourth man in history, after Bjorn Borg, Sampras and Federer, to win four consecutive Wimbledon titles.
Speaking about Djokovic’s dominance on the court and impressive success throughout his tennis career, Kyrgios said after the match: “He is a bit of a god. I am not going to lie, I thought I played well.”
For those who watched the tense game between Djokovic and Kyrgios, there was no shortage of entertainment. From the incredible rallies between the pair to Kyrgios’ well known antics, crowds and audiences alike found themselves on the edge of their seats. Though Djokovic – who in the past has been known to at times let his frustration be known – was largely composed throughout the game, Kyrgios grew more and more flustered and by the third set, tensions boiled over.
Still, at the trophy presentation following the match, Australia’s rising star seemed only in good spirits, and it seems clear that the relationship between the two players has come a long way in recent years, particularly since Kyrgios publicly stood up for Djokovic during the saga of the Australian Open. Lavishing praise on the young Aussie, Djokovic said: “I never thought I would say many nice things about you considering the relationship. Okay, officially it is a bromance.”
Asked by Sue Barker of the BBC whether his result at Wimbledon made him hungry to return, Kyrgios could only express his trademark humour and bluntness. Shaking his head vigorously he replied, “Absolutely not. I am so tired, honestly. Myself, my team we are so exhausted, we have played so much tennis. I definitely need a well-earned vacation after this one.”