Image: Wikimedia Commons / Peter Menzel
Image: Wikimedia Commons / Peter Menzel

Novak Djokovic wins his sixth Wimbledon and 20th Grand Slam

World number one Novak Djokovic has won his sixth Wimbledon title and his 20th Grand Slam, putting him level with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. He demonstrated that he is the best in a battle with the first-time Italian finalist Matteo Berrettini, the Serbian player fighting for every point as he won in four sets, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3. He entered the tournament the favourite, and has now won the first three Grand Slam men’s titles in 2021 – he’ll be looking to the US Open, and the chance to win the Calendar Slam (and maybe even an Olympic medal or two).

Berrettini entered this match the underdog, and it was clear the crowd was behind him as a result. The Italian boasted a big weapon – a powerful serve, at points as fast as 139mph – and he’d hoped that it would shake his opponent. At the start of the match, however, nerves seemed to overcome him. The score line was 5-2 to Djokovic, but a hold on a set point (which took more than 11 minutes to achieve) seemed to kickstart Berrettini.

He fought his way back, taking the next three games – Djokovic won one, and then a Berrettini forehand forced a tie-break, an incredible turnaround after the Serb wasted a set-point chance. And it was Berrettini who drew first blood, winning the tie-break 4-7 and taking the first set.

Djokovic came out into the second set with a steely look in his eyes, and he very quickly built up a 4-0 lead. Berrettini secured a hold with an ace to get on the board, Djokovic won next before his opponent moved the score line to 5-2. Berrettini saved three set points to hold on 5-4, but on a second break, Djokovic took the set.

Berrettini wasn’t going away, and he blasted through the opener with a hold to love, firing off an impressive tenth ace in the process. This hold was immediately followed by one from Djokovic, who then won the next two games. A number of unforced errors were creeping into the Italian’s game, but he took the next game with a great ace. Berrettini netting the ball moved the score line to 5-3 but, on his serve, a combination of strong shots and a winning volley won him the next game. It was Djokovic’s serve for the set, and some good shots forced Berrettini into a position where he couldn’t return the ball. Djokovic won the third set.

The Italian made the opening hold in the fourth set, and he kept working, pushing the score line to 3-3. However, these were Berrettini’s last victorious games of the match, and Djokovic took the lead after an impressive break-point that was the beginning of the end for his opponent. Everything was turning towards Djovokic with an air of inevitability – it appeared that the Italian’s energy levels were down, and the Serb’s response in the crucial moments was essentially perfect.

Winning Wimbledon was always the big dream of mine when I was a kid … it’s a huge honour and privilege

– Novak Djokovic

It was soon championship point – Berrettini saved the first attempt with a volley, and the second with an impressive forehand, but the third was too much. A backhand error ended it all, and Djokovic was the champion.

After the match, Djokovic said: “It was more than a battle. First of all, huge congratulations to Matteo for his team on a great tournament and a tough match today. It’s not the best feeling losing in the final but there’s a great career ahead of you and as he says, it’s just the beginning. Winning Wimbledon was always the big dream of mine when I was a kid and I have to remind myself how special this is and to not take this for granted. It’s a huge honour and a privilege.”

Asked about equalling the 20 Grand Slams won by Nadal and Federer, he said: “I have to make a great tribute to Rafa and Roger, they are legends of our sport and the two most important players I ever faced in my career. They are the reason why I am where I am today. They showed me what I needed to do to get stronger, physically, tactically and mentally. Over the last 10 years it has been an incredible journey that’s not stopping here.”

A question was also floated about completing the Calendar Slam – Djokovic’s thoughts: “I could definitely envisage that happening and I hope I will give it a shot. I’m in great form and played well and having my best form at Grand Slams is my number one priority.”

Berrettini said: “It’s just been unbelievable feelings, maybe too many to handle. For sure, he was better than me. Well done to him, he is writing the history of the sport and he deserves all the credit. I’m really happy with the final and hopefully it will not be my last one here or my last one in a slam so honoured to be here and it’s been a really great run for two weeks. Also with [winning] Queen’s, I could not ask for more – well, maybe a bit more. Congratulations to Novak’s team, they are doing something unbelievable every slam, every tournament.”

After this match, the conversation about the GOAT of the men’s game has restarted, and you just have to make the case for Djokovic. He has now equalled Federer and Nadal’s record, and he’s already the favourite for the US Open later this year – he’s taking tennis to another level, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him surpass Margaret Court’s all-time record in the next few years. He exemplifies how hard work, talent and the hunger to win can manifest in one of the sport’s greatest athletes – he’s a very worthy winner after an incredible tournament.

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