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Djokovic beats Berrettini at Wimbledon to close in on h...

Sport

TENNIS

Djokovic beats Berrettini at Wimbledon to close in on history and destiny

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after winning the men’s final against Matteo Berrettini of Italy at the Wimbledon Championships on 11 July 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Neil Hall)
By Reuters
11 Jul 2021 0

Having also won the Australian and French Open titles in 2021, Djokovic only needs to win the US Open to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete the calendar slam.

World number one Novak Djokovic beat Italian seventh seed Matteo Berrettini 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday to win his sixth title at Wimbledon.

His third straight triumph at the All England Club also earned the Serbian a 20th Grand Slam title, equalling the men’s record haul held by Switzerland’s Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal of Spain.

“It means none of us three will stop,” Djokovic said during the presentation ceremony when asked what the milestone meant to him.

“I have to pay great tribute to Rafa and Roger. They are legends of our sport and they are the two most important players that I ever faced in my career. They are the reason that I’m where I am today.

“They’ve helped me realise what I need to do in order to improve and get stronger mentally, physically and tactically.

“The last 10 years have been an incredible journey. It’s not stopping here.”

Having also won the Australian and French Open titles in 2021, Djokovic only needs to win the US Open to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete the calendar slam.

“I could definitely envisage that happening. I’m gonna definitely give it a shot,” Djokovic added.

“I’m in great form and obviously playing well and playing my best tennis at Grand Slams. It is the highest priority that I have right now at this stage of my career. So let’s keep it going.”

He also completed the third leg towards achieving the Golden Slam. No man has ever won the four slams and Olympic gold in the same year.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia gestures after winning the men’s final against Matteo Berrettini of Italy at the Wimbledon Championships on Sunday. Having also won the Australian and French Open titles in 2021, Djokovic only needs to win the US Open to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete the calendar slam. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Neil Hall)

The 34-year-old, who came into the title clash having beaten Berrettini in both of their previous meetings, opened a 5-2 lead in the first set with an early break, but the Italian fought back to force a tiebreak which he clinched to draw first blood.

It was only the second set the Serbian had lost in this year’s championships. He reacted by racing to a 4-0 lead in the second set before going on to level the match.

A single break of serve in the third and two more breaks in the fourth were enough for Djokovic to close out the contest in front of a raucous Centre Court crowd, who kept on chanting the Italian underdog’s name.

Djokovic sealed his place in the record books on his third match point when Berrettini’s backhand slice landed in the net.

“That was more than a battle,” Djokovic said. “Winning Wimbledon was always a biggest dream of mine when I was a kid. I have to remind myself how special this is, and not take this for granted.”

Not sure about Olympics

Olympic organisers said on Thursday that the Olympic Games would take place without spectators in Tokyo as a surge in Covid-19 cases forced Japan to declare a State of Emergency in the capital city that will last throughout the multi-sport event which starts on July 23.

“I’ll have to think about it,” Djokovic told reporters at the All England Club in London after winning his sixth Wimbledon title. “My plan was always to go to (the) Olympic Games.

“But right now I’m a little bit divided. It’s kind of 50-50 because of what I heard in the last couple days.”

Djokovic fact box:

  • Age: 34
  • Country: Serbia
  • ATP ranking: 1
  • Seeding: 1

Grand Slam titles: 20 (Australian Open 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020, 2021; French Open 2016, 2021; Wimbledon 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021; US Open 2011, 2015, 2018)

Early life

  • Began playing tennis aged four.
  • His father was a professional skier and wanted his son to follow in his footsteps or play professional soccer but changed his mind when Djokovic excelled at tennis from an early age.

Career to date

  • Made Grand Slam debut as a qualifier at the 2005 Australian Open. Finished as the youngest player (18 years, five months) inside the top 100.
  • In 2006, he won his first ATP tour title at Amersfoort.
  • Reached his first Grand Slam final at the US Open in 2007, losing to Roger Federer.
  • Won his maiden Grand Slam title at the 2008 Australian Open — becoming the first Serbian man to win a singles major.
  • Led Serbia to their first Davis Cup title in December 2010.
  • Began 2011 by winning seven successive tournaments and did not lose until June, when Federer ended his 41-match winning streak in the French Open semi-finals.
  • Secured the number one ranking in July 2011 by reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals, then beat Nadal to clinch his first Wimbledon crown, his first title on grass.
  • Defeated Federer in the semis of the 2011 US Open then defeated Nadal in the final to become the seventh man to win three Grand Slam titles in a year since tennis turned professional in 1968.
  • Won his third Australian Open title in 2012 by beating Nadal in five hours and 53 minutes and began 2013 by beating Andy Murray to become the first man in the professional era to win three successive Australian Open titles.
  • Beat Federer in a five-set Wimbledon final in 2014.
  • Reached all four Grand Slam finals in 2015. Began the year by capturing a fifth Australian Open title.
  • Won third Wimbledon title by defeating Federer in the final. Beat Federer in US Open final, earning three Grand Slam titles in a year for a second time. Beat Murray in the 2016 Australian Open final to win his 11th Grand Slam title.
  • Beat Murray again in the French Open final that year to finally win the clay court major in his 12th attempt. The win not only completed his Grand Slam collection but he also became only the third man — after Don Budge and Rod Laver — to hold all four majors at the same time.
  • Retired in the 2017 Wimbledon quarter-finals and ended his season in July with a right elbow injury. Returned from a six-month injury absence at the 2018 Australian Open. Had elbow surgery following a last-16 exit.
  • Beat Kevin Anderson in the 2018 Wimbledon final to seal his 13th Grand Slam. Capped off the year by winning the US Open crown for the third time.
  • Defeated Nadal to claim his 15th major and seventh Australian Open title in 2019.
  • His 26-match winning streak in Grand Slams ended with a loss to Dominic Thiem in the French Open semis.
  • Came from two match points down to defeat Federer in the final and claim his fifth Wimbledon title. It was the first time a Wimbledon singles title had been decided in the final-set tiebreak that had been introduced if the scores reached 12-12 in the set.
  • Failed to defend his title at the US Open after retiring due to injury in the fourth round.
  • Helped Serbia win the inaugural ATP Cup in 2020 before triumphing at Melbourne Park for the eighth time.
  • With 2019 champion Nadal and Federer opting to miss the 2020 US Open, Djokovic had been favourite to win the title but the Serb was defaulted in the fourth round after he accidentally hit a line judge in the throat with a ball. The disqualification ended his 26-0 winning run in 2020.
  • Lost to Nadal in straight sets in the final of the rescheduled 2020 French Open.
  • Beat Daniil Medvedev for a record-extending ninth Australian Open title in 2021.
  • Beat Stefanos Tsitsipas for his second French Open title and 19th Grand Slam crown, thus becoming the first man since tennis turned professional in 1968 to win all four majors at least twice.
  • Beat Matteo Berrettini in the Wimbledon final to win a record-equalling 20th singles Grand Slam title and take one step closer towards a calendar-year sweep of all four majors. DM
Gallery

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