Saturday, August 6, 2022

Novak Djokovic wins seventh Wimbledon title and 21st Grand Slam after beating Nick Kyrgios

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The Serb is now just one title behind Rafael Nadal in the all-time list

The top-seeker lost the first set for the third match in a row as the Australian’s serve, as he had predicted, proved difficult to read.

CENTER COURT – Novak Djokovic prevailed over a spirited challenge from Nick Kyrgios but couldn’t refuse his 21st Grand Slam title and seventh Wimbledon trophy, winning 4-6 6-3 6-4 7 -6 (3).

However, Djokovic broke Kyrgios in second for the first time in his career and never really looked back, edging away from 20-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer in a shadow of over three hours and closing in on Rafael Nadal.

Kyrgios had attempted to become only the fifth Australian of the Open era to win Wimbledon and the first in 20 years but fell short in the biggest match of his life.

Nervousness is always a topic of conversation in finals, although you’d think Djokovic put all that behind him in his 32nd Grand Slam showdown on Sunday.

However, it is testament to the pressure cooker of this elite sport and Center Court that Djokovic offered a double fault to give Kyrgios the very first point and that he did so again when he found himself losing the point four games later.

On the other hand, Kyrgios, playing in by far the biggest match of his life, seemed focused and maybe even relaxed: there were forearm serves and tweeners (although he lost the point both times), and indeed they were expressions of focus rather than the opposite.

It seemed like Kyrgios wanted to let out the outsider in him in small spurts and it worked – as did his serve. Djokovic had now gone five sets of tennis without breaking Kyrgios and he won just five points on his opponent’s serve in the entire first set.

In fact, it wasn’t until game 14 of the match, after 45 minutes, to really get a foothold in a service game. It was sealed with a ball touching the net and dying, meaning Djokovic celebrated by apologizing instead of yelling, but on the inside he must have jumped.

In contrast, the previously focused Kyrgios began to unravel. After failing to convert four break points when Djokovic served for the second set, he berated his box. “Say something!” he asked, a theme that would develop as the game progressed. At least the referee office will say he has stopped bullying linesmen.

Not that he avoided the ref’s wrath entirely and still has to forfeit part of his prize money to pay another fine after insisting that Renaud Lichtenstein’s decision not to return him a first serve after a fan broke his serve had interrupted, “damn joke”.

More outbursts were to follow – he identified a bystander who he claimed was 700 drinks deep – but just as Stefanos Tsitsipas was caught up in Kyrgios’ dramas on the other end, Djokovic wasn’t. He occasionally chided himself in the direction of coach Goran Ivanisevic and company, but just as the two playing styles contrasted, so did their temperaments.

As the afternoon heat began to reach 30 degrees Celsius, the energy from Kyrgios seemed to dwindle. Djokovic forces his opponent to run an extra meter per point, averaging about 10 percent more than he does, the kind of physical attrition the No. 1 seed enjoys and his speedy opponent rarely has to endure. However, both seemed largely content to let the other hold and take the fourth set into a tiebreak.

When that came, Kyrgios could no longer get his best performance. Djokovic was too solid, too unmoved, too cool.

Follow i sport on Facebook for more tennis news, interviews and features, or listen Love Tennis Podcast presented by I‘s James Gray on iTunes, Spotify or just search “Love Tennis” wherever you find your podcasts

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