A year after winning his last Grand Slam title, Novak Djokovic is finally back on the top step of the podium. In a set of four match, Djokovic beat Australian Nick Kyrgios 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) to win Sunday at Wimbledon for his 21st career Grand Slam.
With his seventh Wimbledon crown, Djokovic has passed Roger Federer on the all-time Grand Slam list and is now one behind Rafael Nadal, who sits alone at the top with 22.
To secure the No.21 title, Djokovic received a huge challenge from Kyrgios. Known for his powerful serve, Kyrgios came out firing and won the first set, 6-4, putting the buzz of a potentially massive upset in the air.
But Djokovic quickly turned things around.
Djokovic won the second set decisively, 6-3, including coming back from a triple break point to level the match at one set apiece. Later, with the third set tied at 4-4, Djokovic overcame a 0-40 deficit to break Kyrgios’ serve and later take the set 6-4.
Throughout the match, Kyrgios’ controversial frustrations were clearly on display. On several occasions, he was concerned about a perceived lack of support from people in his box. He later alerted the referee to a seemingly chatty – and distracting – woman in the front row who “seems to have had about 700 drinks”.
Throughout, Djokovic remained calm and was able to take control of the game, taking advantage of any openings provided by Kyrgios, who was playing in his first Grand Slam final.
In the deciding fourth set, Kyrgios regained his focus and held his serve. Djokovic did the same and ultimately prevailed in a one-sided, 7-3 tiebreaker en route to another Wimbledon championship.
For Djokovic, this title is not a record because he remains one behind Nadal, who withdrew from the tournament before the semi-finals due to injury. He had his chance at the US Open in 2021, but was beaten by Daniil Medvedev (who was absent from Wimbledon due to the club banning Russian and Belarusian players). He would have had his chance in January at the Australian Open, but his decision not to get a COVID-19 shot led to him being expelled from Australia, which also carries a three-year ban from the country. .
Djokovic lost to eventual champion Rafael Nadal at the French Open in May, but nothing could stop him at the All England Club. He’s been through most of his competition, coming close to losing only to Jannik Sinner. Even Kyrgios playing the best tennis of his life couldn’t damage Djokovic’s armor.
As for Kyrgios, he worked his whole career to get where he is today, in a Grand Slam final. He silenced the histrionics for most of the tournament and focused on what mattered: tennis. It shows he’s capable of reducing his focus on tennis whenever he wants, but the Kyrgios we all know – angry, frustrated, out of control – bubbled up against Djokovic on Sunday.
And those frustrations didn’t arise because of a long-standing grudge with Djokovic. At least now. Once upon a time, they had one.
“Everyone knows there was no love lost for a while there”, “It was healthy for the sport. I think every time we played each other there was there was hype around it. It was interesting for the media, the people watching, all of that.
Things couldn’t be more different now. Djokovic says he and Kyrgios have a ‘better’ relationship now. Kyrgios supported Djokovic before he was kicked out of Australia, and he even admitted the two exchanged messages on Instagram. He said Djokovic hoped they would face each other in the final.
Djokovic got his wish and he won the trophy as well. He looks just as powerful as last year at his peak, which is why it’s a shame this is his last Grand Slam of the year. The United States does not allow unvaccinated people to enter the country. Unless that changes, Djokovic won’t be able to play at the US Open – which will actually award ranking points, unlike Wimbledon.
But for now, Djokovic is on top and one step closer to owning the record for most Grand Slam titles.