'I am the best': Djokovic's Wimbledon defiance

1 year ago 145

By AP -- The Wimbledon final was locked up astatine a acceptable apiece aft astir 2 and a fractional hours, and Novak Djokovic's bid for a record-tying 20th Grand Slam rubric was astatine a captious juncture, erstwhile helium faced 2 interruption points portion thousands successful the full-capacity assemblage astatine Centre Court chanted his opponent's archetypal name.

Bothered, perhaps, by the situation helium was facing betwixt the lines Sunday, and, perhaps, by the enactment being thrown down Matteo Berrettini, and, perhaps, by the value of the milestone helium was pursuing, Djokovic shrugged each of that off and steeled himself, arsenic he's done truthful galore times astatine truthful galore moments connected truthful galore stages.

On each of the adjacent 2 points, Djokovic, known for his baseline supremacy, charged forward. On each, Berrettini's passing effort recovered the net. After the second, Djokovic stared into the stands and pointed to his ear, past waved his racket. He got what helium wanted; a chorus of his nickname broke out: "No-le! No-le!" Two points later, erstwhile helium grabbed the crippled with a 190km/h ace, Djokovic enactment his racquet down an ear, heard much noise, nodded and smiled.

Novak Djokovic celebrates a cardinal constituent during his Wimbledon last win. (Getty)

An hr later, the lucifer was finished — Djokovic won 6-7 (4) 6-4 6-4 6-3 — and so, too, was his stated tendency to adjacent the full of large championships collected by his biggest rivals, Roger Federer (who reached 20 successful 2018) and Rafael Nadal (who did it past year). No different antheral tennis subordinate has much than 14.

Djokovic, of course, wants more.

"I see myself best, and I judge that I americium the best, different I wouldn't beryllium talking confidently astir winning Slams and making history," said Djokovic, a 34-year-old from Serbia who is ranked No.1 and has spent much weeks successful that apical spot than immoderate different man. "But whether I'm the top of each clip oregon not, I permission that statement to different people."

Novak Djokovic plays a forehand volley against Matteo Berrettini successful the Wimbledon final. (Getty)

It is simply a fashionable topic, certainly. And each subordinate of the alleged Big Three has his supporters. This play mightiness tilt the equilibrium successful Djokovic's favour successful the minds of those yet to beryllium convinced.

Already the archetypal antheral since Rod Laver successful 1969 to triumph the archetypal 3 large tournaments successful a year, Djokovic volition instrumentality purpose astatine a existent calendar Grand Slam astatine the US Open, which starts August 30. Only 2 men — Don Budge successful the 1930s and Laver doubly successful the 1960s — person gone 4-for-4.

"I'm going to decidedly springiness it a shot," Djokovic told the Centre Court assemblage during the trophy presentation. "I'm successful a large signifier and evidently playing well. ... So let's support it going."

He earned a 3rd consecutive title astatine the All England Club and sixth overall. Those spell alongside 9 astatine the Australian Open, 3 astatine the US Open and 2 astatine the French Open.

"I person to wage a large tribute to Rafa and Roger. They are legends. Legends of our sport. They are the 2 astir important players that I ever faced successful my career," Djokovic said.

"They are, I think, the crushed that I americium wherever I americium today. They've helped maine realise what I request to bash successful bid to improve, to get stronger mentally, physically, tactically."

Federer tweeted his congratulations, writing, "Wonderful performance, good done!"

Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy aft winning Wimbledon for his 20th Grand Slam title. (Getty)

This was Djokovic's 30th large last — among men, lone Federer has played more, 31 — and the archetypal for Berrettini, a 25-year-old from Italy who was seeded No.7.

"Hopefully," Berrettini said, "it's not going beryllium my past one."

It was a large sporting time successful London for his country: Italy's shot squad faced England astatine Wembley Stadium successful the European Championship last astatine night.

With Marija Cicak officiating, the archetypal pistillate seat umpire for a men's last astatine a tourney that began successful 1877, play began arsenic the prima made a uncommon quality during the fortnight, the entity disposable successful betwixt the clouds.

The opening crippled featured signs of edginess from both, but particularly Djokovic, whose brace of double-faults contributed to the half-dozen combined unforced errors. He faced a interruption constituent but staved it off.

"Definitely," Djokovic acknowledged, "felt somewhat much tense than I usually feel."

Djokovic speaks after Wimbledon triumph

Matteo Berrettini plays a forehand during the Wimbledon last against Novak Djokovic. (Getty)

The 6-foot-5, barrel-chested Berrettini's almighty serves sent enactment judges contorting to get their caput retired of harm's way. Djokovic occasionally took screen himself, crouching and raising his racquet arsenic if it were a shield to artifact backmost serves aimed astatine his body.

Not galore opponents negociate to instrumentality serves astatine 137 mph and extremity up winning the point, but Djokovic did that astatine slightest twice. And the large forehands Berrettini drives past astir different players kept coming backmost disconnected Djokovic's racket.

"I didn't play severely due to the fact that I didn't consciousness well," Berrettini said. "He made maine play badly."

That's what Djokovic does: He forces foes to enactment truthful hard to triumph each point, fto unsocial a game, a set, a match.

Indeed, this 1 could person been implicit overmuch sooner: Djokovic led 4-1 successful the archetypal set, 4-0 successful the 2nd and 3-1 successful the third. But successful the first, helium faltered, wasting a acceptable constituent astatine 5-2, getting breached erstwhile helium served for it astatine 5-3, past dropping 4 of the tiebreaker's past 5 points.

When Berrettini closed it retired with a 138 mph ace, helium shouted — but said aboriginal helium couldn't perceive his ain roar due to the fact that of the however large galore of the 15,000 spectators were.

But Djokovic is thing if not a fighter. He blunted Berrettini's champion efforts and won the fans over, too. When it was over, Djokovic dropped to his backmost connected the turf, arms and legs splayed, showered by cheers. Moments later, helium rose, threw his caput back, dispersed his arms and basked successful the associated appreciation of his accomplishment.

As Berrettini enactment it: "He's penning the past of this sport, truthful helium deserves each the credit."

Berrettini gracious in defeat

Novak Djokovic celebrates winning Wimbledon for a 3rd consecutive clip and sixth overall. (Getty)

It was an entertaining final, with immoderate magical points. On one, Berrettini conjured up a 'tweener lob that Djokovic tracked down with his own-back-to-the-court flick that coiled up successful the net. On another, Djokovic slid into a keep-the-point-going antiaircraft backhand and, aft Berrettini replied with a driblet shot, sprinted guardant for a winner. Djokovic raised his scale digit — arsenic if to punctual everyone, "I'm No.1!" — and Berrettini flipped his racquet extremity implicit end, caught it and smiled.

What much could helium do?

Not overmuch anyone tin bash against Djokovic, it seems.

He has won 8 of the past 12 majors — each since turning 30. And for each of the questions astir erstwhile the younger procreation would measurement forward, Djokovic is singlehandedly holding disconnected the kids.

In this year's 3 majors, helium is 21-0, with victories successful finals implicit Daniil Medvedev, 25, successful Australia, Stefanos Tsitsipas, 22, successful France, and present Berrettini, 25.

On Sunday, Djokovic made simply 21 unforced errors, portion accumulating 31 winners.

Novak Djokovic celebrates by picking and eating writer from the tribunal aft winning Wimbledon. (Getty)

Djokovic's returns are arsenic bully arsenic anyone's, ever. His two-handed backhand is simply a changeless threat. His quality to expect and scope shots is remarkable. And helium does immoderate it takes: Djokovic won 34 of 48 points erstwhile helium went to the net, 7 of 9 erstwhile helium serve-and-volleyed.

What sets him isolated supra each is simply a prime stats can't trace: "The quality to header with pressure," helium called it.

When the hostility and bosom complaint ratchet up, Djokovic is either impervious to that benignant of happening — oregon plays arsenic if helium is.

It's the experience. The grit and guts. The endowment and hard work.

This has been a twelvemonth of dominance by Djokovic, connected apical of a decennary of success.

"The past 10 years has been an unthinkable journey," helium said, "that is not stopping here."

Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy successful beforehand of the honours committee astatine Wimbledon. (Getty)

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