Novak Djokovic beats Matteo Berrettini to win sixth Wimbledon title and match Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

·4-min read
Novak Djokovic beats Matteo Berrettini to win sixth Wimbledon title and match Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic won a sixth Wimbledon title and 20th Grand Slam in all to edge closer to ending the debate on the greatest men’s tennis player of all time.

It put him on a par with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the record books and kept alive the prospect of a clean sweep of all four slams in a given season having won the previous Australian and French Opens.

This wasn’t necessarily vintage Djokovic. There were moments his wall-like defence looked human and times when his serve crumbled. And yet his performance was still peppered with brilliance, not least of all his on-court and in-head obduracy meaning he still managed to find a way to win.

To suggest Djokovic was out of sorts at times is not to denigrate from the result. He was a deserving winner as Matteo Berretini, playing in his first Grand Slam final, tried to throw everything at his opponent in an entertaining final. In contrast, it was a 30th final for the world No1 at a major.

The 6-7 6-4 6-4 6-3 result means he will be the overwhelming favourite to win both the US Open and, before that, the Olympic title should he choose to participate.

On a big day for Italian sport, Berrettini arrived on court as likely the only Italian sportsman with the crowd on his side in London on the day. He was bidding to become the first Italian Wimbledon champion and only the third of his countrymen in history to win a Slam.

Wearing strapping on his left thigh, he had a look-in on both Djokovic’s opening service games but failed to make them count and suddenly the Serbian, also not quite into his rhythm, was somehow 5-2 up, the first set in danger of being over in the blink of an eye.

But his younger opponent managed to somehow turn the tide in winning three games in a row, breaking Djokovic in the process and edging a 10-minute ninth game which brought both the Italian and the crowd to life.

Djokovic had won the two tiebreaks he played in the last Wimbledon final but Berrettini played the more aggressively in the shoot-out, a monster 138mph ace sealing an unlikely first set win after 70 minutes of captivating tennis.

The world No1 looked with disdain at the lack of crowd support but has a way of using the negativity to such good effect. Within minutes he was 4-0 up in the second set, nullifying the Berrettini momentum in the process.

The Italian avoided a bagel and also boasted the moment of that set, a lob through his legs pegging the deficit back to 5-2. Both men had chances to break serve in the subsequent games, Djokovic’s box shaking their heads in bafflement at him not playing his clinical best.

 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

And yet when it mattered he produced the goods, four straight points on serve to take the set 6-4.

Djokovic suggested he had mentally broken his opponent, as he tapped on his temple while looking at his coaching team following another early break to go 2-1 clear in the third set.

That mental fortitude was tested when two break points down in game six but he held firm with an ace, whipping up the crowd in the process. From there, he did enough to keep ahead throughout the set to gain the stranglehold in the match.

Watched by Tom Cruise, among others, it left Berrettini with a mission impossible of his own to claw his way back into the match.

From there, Djokovic was always just marginally a step ahead for a third straight Wimbledon title and with his sights on pulling clear of Federer and Nadal in terms of Slams while also edging closer to Margaret Court’s outright record of 24.

For Berrettini, it ended a stunning grasscourt run, which included the Queen’s title, and mirrored the result of the pair’s last meeting at the quarter-final stage of the preceding French Open.

But his performance - not least of all in saving a series of set points at the death - suggested he is in the conversation among the next generation to topple the likes of Djokovic when that day final comes. That wasn’t this particular Sunday.

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