FORCED to wait five years for redemption since losing to Nick Kyrgios twice in straight sets back in 2017, Serbian world number three Novak Djokovic was able to deliver a Grand Slam return. One of the greatest ever claimed his 21st major to move to equal second on the all-time men’s winners, whilst equalling boyhood hero Pete Sampras on seven Wimbledon trophy. His Australian opponent was up for the fight in the opening set, winning 6-4, before Djokovic kept his composure to take out the match in four sets, including a final set tiebreaker, 4-6 6-3 6-4 7-6.
World number 40 Kyrgios was playing in his first Grand Slam final up against a man who notched up number 32. It was the Australian who started off strong however, breaking first in the fifth game with a convincing return game. Kyrgios won the service games either side of that to love, with the sixth game yielding three winners and an ace to put the challenge up to the Serbian. Djokovic pushed hard in the 10th game, but Kyrgios ended the set with an ace to lead 6-4 after 31 minutes.
Knowing his time would come, Djokovic kept a steady head and that chance came in the fourth game of the second set when Kyrgios went off the boil and the Serbian broke to love. He moved out to a 4-1 lead by holding serve the next game – though Kyrgios did push him – and eventually won the set 6-3 despite Kyrgios producing three break points in the ninth and final game of that set. Kyrgios was still serving strong throughout the third set, finishing the fifth and seventh games off with back-to-back aces when challenged by Djokovic.
When Kyrgios served two aces and hit a winner in the ninth game of the set to go 40-0 in order to make it 5-4, everything seemed set for an almost- certain tiebreaker, but then it all fell apart. Djokovic forced his way back into the contest from three game points against to hit a couple of winers and break, then served out the final game of that set in an epic 50-minute contest to go two sets to one up heading into a crucial fourth set.
Though clearly frustrated by letting the third set slip and a patron in the crowd who Kyrgios said “had about 700 drinks”, the Australian hit three winners in the opening game of the fourth set to go a game up. His next service game was two winner sand two aces, showing just how incredible his shotmaking could be against the best in the world. Both players were taking out their service games with ease and not really looking like breaking right up until the tiebreaker.
It was there that the experience stood out, with the Serbian breaking against both serves in the fourth and fifth points and suddenly it was a 6-1 lead with five championship points. Kyrgios did hit a winner and serve an ace to cut it back by two, but Djokovic forced the Australian into a backhand error with the next point to claim the Wimbledon Championship 7-3 in the tiebreaker, and 4-6 6-3 6-4 7-6 overall in three hours and one minute.
“I’ve lost words for what this tournament and what this trophy means to me. It always has been the most special tournament. It was the one that motivated me to play tennis. Every time this tournament gets more special and meaningful,” Djokovic said post-match.
Djokovic won in a rare fashion despite being outhit by his opponent, only producing 17 unforced errors (to Kyrgios’ 33), while serving 15 aces and 46 total winners. Kyrgios put down 30 aces and 62 winners, whilst both players served seven double faults. Though the Australian served at a higher clip (73 to 63 per cent), it was the Serbian who took full advantage of his serve, winning 83 and 61 per cent of his first and second serve and earned 34 per cent of his receiving points.
In defeat, Kyrgios said what only Kyrgios would say when asked if getting so close to victory had made him hungrier for more.
“Absolutely not; I’m so tired, honestly,” he said. “Maybe one day I’ll be here again but I don’t know about that. “Myself, my team, I think we are all exhausted, we’ve played so much tennis. “I definitely need a well-earned vacation after this one. “I’m just really happy with this result, it’s probably the best of my career. Maybe one day I’ll be here again.”
Djokovic paid tribute to the Australian post-match as he claimed his 21st Grand Slam trophy.
“Nick, you’ll be back,” Djokovic said. “Not just at Wimbledon, but in finals. I know it’s tough to find words of consolation after a tough loss like this, but you showed why you deserve to be one of the best players in the world, particularly on this surface. Congrats to you and your team for an amazing tournament, I wish you all the best.”