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Djokovic wins Wimbledon, 20th grand slam

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11th July, 2021
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Novak Djokovic has declared he’s simply the best player in tennis – and the incredible Serbian champion took another step to demonstrating just why as he earned a milestone-equalling 20th grand slam at Wimbledon.

Djokovic made his assertion on Sunday after dousing Matteo Berrettini’s fire in typically indomitable and emphatic fashion to beat the “Italian Hammer” 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4 6-3 and equal the historic slam tally of his great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Making it clear on Centre Court as he held the gentlemen’s singles trophy aloft for the sixth time that he’s not content to keep this as a shared accolade for very long, Djokovic asserted that “an incredible journey is not stopping here”.

Asked if he considered himself the best male player of the Open era, Djokovic said: “I consider myself best and I believe that I am the best – otherwise I wouldn’t be talking confidently about winning slams and making history.

“But whether I’m the greatest of all-time or not, I leave that debate to other people.

“But I am extremely honoured to definitely be part of the conversation.”

He paid tribute to Federer and Nadal but sounded like a man ready to eclipse them by going on to complete the calendar grand slam only ever achieved by the great Australian Rod Laver in the Open era.

“Well, I can definitely envision that happening. I’m definitely going to give it a shot,” he said.

Beyond that, there’s also the Olympics in Japan and the possibility that he could match Steffi Graf’s 1988 achievement when she won all four grand slam singles titles and Games gold – the so-called ‘golden slam’.

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Yet Djokovic caused some surprise when he admitted he was having second thoughts about now competing in Tokyo after learning of the absence of crowds and the extensive restrictions players will face .

“I’ll have to think about it,” he said. “My plan was always to go to Olympic Games but right now I’m a little bit divided.” 

Yet the victory over Berrettini, carved out from a set down and even when not playing anywhere near his matchless best, showed why a clean sweep of the majors is more of a probability than a possibility.

“He’s unbeatable,” declared one of his coaches and former champion Goran Ivanisevic, reckoning Djokovic is about to put the GOAT debate to bed.

“For me, Novak is the best ever. I strongly believe he’s going to do it, win all four in one year at the US Open. Then I think story’s over.”

This was not a vintage final by any means, with Djokovic more inconsistent than usual, yet there was still a sense of inevitability about a duel between a grand slam final debutant with a massive game and a champion in his 30th final with all the answers.

The best returner the game’s ever seen took Berrettini’s 137mph deliveries and increasingly neutralised them, for the most part coming on strongest in the clutch points.

Indeed, he probably should have won the match quicker than he did, having blown a 5-2 lead and a set point in the first stanza which he reckoned, in some strange way, freed him up for the rest of the contest.

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“I did feel before the semis (against Denis Shapovalov) and also today slightly different emotion in terms of expectations, the tension build-up because I was aware history is on the line,” he admitted.

Yet though Berrettini, who admitted he’d been struggling a little with a heavily strapped left leg, ripped 16 aces and 57 winners past him, Djokovic played his best just when needed, raising his level significantly to break the Italian in his last two service games to win in three hours 24 minutes.

After his bizarre but now familiar post-match ritual of eating some of the Centre Court grass, Djokovic told the crowd: “From being a seven-year-old constructing a trophy out of raw materials to standing here with a sixth trophy. It’s incredible.”

© AAP

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