Novak Djokovic has never been afraid to express his ambitions for the world to hear. This was true when he was a novice on the tour and for many his self-confidence was misplaced, and it held up to 30 what he thought he could achieve.
In the past 13 and a half years since starting his marathon with his first major title, much of what Djokovic has meticulously planned has been and continues to be achieved. On Sunday, he took one of the biggest steps of his career, recovering from a loss to a valiant Matteo Berrettini to win 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 and clinch his male record. equaling the 20th Grand Slam title.
With his latest victory, Djokovic has now won the first three Grand Slam titles of this year and is one step away from finishing the Grand Slam. Above all, Djokovic finally caught up with his big rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, rising to join them in a three-way tie with 20 Grand Slam titles. But Djokovic went up to 20 with a ball and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.
This final also made history in a different sense as Marija Cicak, a highly regarded and consistent Croatian referee, became the first female referee to take charge of a men’s singles final at Wimbledon. Although she is only the sixth woman to referee a Grand Slam men’s singles final, she is the third of the last five Grand Slam tournaments.
In recent turf seasons, Berrettini’s marriage to devastating serve, crushing forehand, heavy forehand and delicate backhand slice had yielded 23 wins in his previous 25 games, including an 11-game winning streak. , but a defining facet of Djokovic’s dominance is that while he has no weaknesses and his opponents don’t have a safer part of the field to aim for, there is no one better to strike the blow. weaker of an opponent.
Despite struggling with his second serve, Djokovic established a 5-2 lead in the first set as he harassed Berrettini’s backhand. But the Italian slowly found his place in the game, saving a set point, hammering forehands and disturbing Djokovic with his backhand slice. After rallying to reach a tie-break, Berrettini closed the start with a 138 mph ace in the middle.
If this was the Italian’s supreme recovery, keeping his level high was a whole other task. He immediately struggled as Djokovic consolidated two breaks for a 4-0 lead in the second set, with the world No.1 making small positive adjustments as Berrettini’s level dwindled.
Although the Italian regained his level at the end, Djokovic held on. Djokovic took an early break in the third set after a loose serve play from Berrettini, then held on to take a two-set-to-one lead. But Berrettini continued to work hard, retaining his serve early in the fourth set before moving to 3-2. He was leading 0-30 then at 15-30 he buried a forehand in the corner, only for Djokovic to recover with a sublime defensive point.
He then went through four straight games to win his 20th Grand Slam title. With the win, Djokovic now holds six Wimbledon titles plus a second-place appearance over the past 10 editions, an unthinkable distinction at the start of his grass career when it was his worst surface. But he had always seen Wimbledon as the ultimate goal and, like so much of his career, he simply did whatever he could to win it.
As Djokovic held his trophy firmly, he reflected on this trip to make sure he didn’t take success for granted: “A seven-year-old boy in Serbia building a Wimbledon trophy from improvised materials that I could find in my room. he said. “And today with a sixth Wimbledon, it’s incredible. Astonishing. ”
Ten years ago, when Djokovic entered the 2011 season which would define the trajectory of his career, he only had one Grand Slam title while Federer held 16. The idea that any active player apart from Nadal was able to reach that number was illogical for the most part. The way he unabashedly asserted himself in the conversation, fighting them both en route to the majority of his titles, is a stunning accomplishment.
“It means none of us three will stop,” Djokovic said. “I think that’s what [No 20] means. I have to pay a big tribute to Rafa and Roger. They are legends of our sport and they are the two most important players I have faced in my career. They are the reason I am where I am today.
Once the brief celebrations are over, Djokovic will look to the Olympics, which he says he’s still not determined to participate in, and then grand slam pressure awaits him at the US Open. Djokovic is 34 years old now, the second oldest Wimbledon champion in history, and yet he would like to accomplish so much more. Yet it is a moment. He should take the time to reflect on how far he has come and how great he has managed to achieve, the type of which may never be seen again.