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A Wimbledon wunderkind – Djokovic rallies to defeat Kyrgios for 21st major title

Novak Djokovic battled past Nick Kyrgios in four sets to claim his seventh Wimbledon title and his fourth in succession.

Novak Djokovic 2022 Wimbledon Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the second set during the men’s singles final against Australia’s Nick Kyrgios || AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Novak Djokovic was tested early and often this Wimbledon, dropping five sets across the championships and falling behind by a set in each of his final three contests. 

He was in trouble again on Sunday in the final, as Nick Kyrgios bolted out to a one-set lead and threatened to pull an upset for the ages on Centre Court. In the end, the Serb passed all tests and emerged as a 21-time Grand Slam and seven-time Wimbledon champion with his 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(3) triumph over Australia’s Kyrgios on Centre Court. 

“He’s a bit of a god,” Kyrgios said of Djokovic on court after the final. “I’m not gonna lie – I thought I played well.”

By winning his 21st major title, Djokovic moves past Roger Federer on the all-time men’s singles Grand Slam titles list for the first time, and climbs within one of Rafael Nadal, who won his 22nd major last month at Roland-Garros.

Djokovic: “I didn’t think that I would win it seven times”

Djokovic becomes also the first player in the Open Era to win the title in Wimbledon after dropping the first set in his quarter-final, semi-final and final, and the first overall to achieve that feat since Ted Schroeder in 1949.

His startling success at Wimbledon over the years has even Djokovic feeling surprised. “I didn’t think that I would win it seven times, even though I always believed that anything is possible,” he said.

Second oldest champion

35-year-old Djokovic becomes the second-oldest men’s singles champion in Wimbledon history, and the fourth man to win four consecutive titles at SW19, along with Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer. 

Djokovic, who owns a lifetime record of 86-10 at Wimbledon, has now won 28 consecutive matches at SW19, the fourth-longest men’s singles streak of all-time. 

Novak Djokovic 2022 Wimbledon
Tennis – Wimbledon – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain – July 10, 2022 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the second set during the men’s singles final against Australia’s Nick Kyrgios || AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Additionally, Djokovic stretches his domination at Wimbledon, where he has tied Pete Sampras and William Renshaw on the all-time men’s singles title list – after rising the trophy at seven of the last 11 stagings of Wimbledon, the Serb is just one title shy of matching Roger Federer at the top of the list. 

“Realizing the childhood dream and winning this trophy, every single time it gets more and more meaningful and special, and so I’m very blessed and very thankful to be standing here with it with the trophy,” Djokovic said.

Djokovic has not lost at Wimbledon since retiring in the quarter-finals against Tomas Berdych in 2017, when he retired. 

Another turnaround for Djokovic

As he had done in his previous two matches against Jannik Sinner and Cameron Norrie, Djokovic rebounded from an early deficit to win convincingly.

After dropping the opening set to Kyrgios the Serb did not surrender another break of serve. He dropped just nine first-serve points in the final three sets and won all 16 of his service games in sets two, three and four.

Meanwhile he was able to use his mental edge to convert a break of serve in the second and third sets against the volatile Aussie, who spent much of those two sets verbally shouting at his box.

In the final set neither player yielded on serve but it was Djokovic who dominated the tiebreak, reeling off six of the first seven points before finally converting his third championship point to earn his first win in three tries over the Aussie.

Djokovic on the Kyrgios serve – “It’s so difficult”

In his two previous meetings with Kyrgios in 2017, Djokovic never managed a break of serve against the Aussie, and he spoke about just how difficult it was to turn things around against the Aussie’s vaunted serve on Sunday.

“He’s such a good server, it’s so difficult,” he said.

“It was just constant pressure,” Djokovic said. “I was really living on the edge in the first two sets. I think the crucial few games were end of the end of the second set, then it was really anybody’s game and I just hung in there. I just stayed solid, mentally, I think, and with with my game from the back of the the court I have done what I had to do.”

The Serb says he got a break when Kyrgios went temporarily off the rails in the ninth game of the third set. The 27-year-old was serving at 40-0 but promptly lost the next five points, including one via double-fault at deuce.

“He lost that game – I didn’t earn it, he lost it,” Djokovic said. “So I mean, look, at this stage, at this level, very few points, details, margins, decide the win and I knew that the experience of playing in the finals a few times before today could help me in some decisive moments, just to stay mentally tough, even though it was extremely challenging for me, particularly because of his service.”

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