Unbeatable Djokovic Wins Seventh Wimbledon Title

Novak Djokovic (photo: Wimbledon video)

WIMBLEDON/WASHINGTON, July 10, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Novak Djokovic proved that having a strong mental game is as important in tennis as possessing a good forehand and backhand. On Sunday afternoon, in the men’s singles final of the Wimbledon Championships, the top-seeded Serbian showed all three qualities and more. He endured and persevered through the verbal tirades of Australia’s Nick Kyrgios to win his fourth consecutive Wimbledon crown. With his seventh Wimbledon title overall, it put Djokovic level with his boyhood idol Pete Sampras.

The final score line showed that Djokovic won 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3) in three hours and one minute. He won his 21st career major singles title in front of tennis royalty – including Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Chris Evert and Stan Smith – and members of the royal family, too. Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge, watched the history-making final from the Royal Box.

Although his 28th straight grass-court victory – third most in the Open Era – won’t be fondly remembered as a classic, it had its classic and brilliant moments. For certain, Djokovic’s hard work and patience rewarded him handsomely. He received the champion’s trophy from the Duchess of Cambridge, the All England Club patron.

While the World No. 3 and top seed Djokovic was appearing in his 32nd Grand Slam final – and eighth at Wimbledon – under 35-degree Celsius wall-to-wall sunshine on Centre Court at the All England Club, his opponent, No. 40 Kyrgios, was playing in his first. Regardless of Djokovic’s major experience versus Kyrgios’ inexperience, this was one of the most anticipated finals in years, thanks no less to the controversy that has followed both players during this season and throughout their respective careers. While Djokovic admirably played a pretty clean match despite the many distractions, the same couldn’t be said of Kyrgios.

Regardless, everything pointed to this year’s Wimbledon gentlemen’s singles final as a must-watch event. After all, if it couldn’t be a No. 1 seed versus No. 2 in the final – between Djokovic and Rafael Nadal – why not Kyrgios, who benefited from Nadal’s injury withdrawal.

From the outset, Kyrgios wasted little time in opening up his bag of tricks – a 125-mile-an-hour second-serve ace, volley winners from both wings, and even an underarm serve – during his opening service game. He broke Djokovic to go ahead 3-2 and backed it up with a love hold to stretch his lead to 4-2. Soon, Kyrgios closed out the 31-minute set with his sixth ace and 12th winner. Serving hard and playing with poise but without the histrionics, he dropped just four points on his first serve through the opening set. His serving effectiveness certainly held up well against Djokovic’s returns.

Next, Djokovic recovered in the second set and broke Kyrgios to go ahead 3-1, then saved four break points to serve out the 39-minute stanza. It was the first set that Djokovic has ever won against Kyrgios in their career head-to-head.

Then, in the third set, Djokovic took Kyrgios to deuce in four of the Australian’s service games. He broke Kyrgios from 0-40 down in the ninth game and capitalized on his opportunity as the mercurial Aussie began to implode with his own self-destructive behavior toward his box and even threw a water bottle during the changeover. Djokovic, remaining focused on the prize of winning, closed out the 50-minute set 6-4 after Kyrgios hit a backhand unforced error as the final reached the two-hour mark.

As the fourth set developed, both players steadied themselves. However, neither was able to break the other. So, it would be up to a tie-break to decide the set and, ultimately, it decided the match. Djokovic raced out to a 6-1 advantage by handling the pressure of the moment the best. Although Kyrgios would hit a winner and his final ace, it was too little too late. Soon, Djokovic wrapped up the tie-break and 61-minute set as well as the match and championship after Kyrgios netted a backhand return that killed a final 10-shot rally.

Djokovic finished with 46 winners – including 15 aces – to 17 unforced errors, won 83 percent (62 of 75) and converted two of four break-point chances against Kyrgios. He outpointed his opponent 132-112. Kyrgios ended with 30 aces and 62 winners but also made 33 unforced errors.

“He’s a bit of a god, I’m not gonna lie,” Kyrgios said of Djokovic during the trophy presentation. “I thought I played well. … It’s been an amazing couple of weeks for me personally.

“Myself, my team, I think we are all exhausted, we’ve played so much tennis. I definitely need a well-earned vacation after this one. I’m just really happy with this result, it’s probably the best of my career. Maybe one day I’ll be here again.”

Then, it was Djokovic’s turn to accept the champion’s trophy for the seventh time.

“I lost words for what this tournament, this trophy means to me, my team, my family,” Djokovic said in conversation with the BBC’s Sue Barker during the trophy presentation. “I’ve said this many times. It always has been and always will be the most special tournament in my heart, the one that motivated me, inspired me to start playing tennis in a small mountain resort in Serbia where my parents used to run a restaurant.

“I was four or five years old and I saw Pete Sampras win his first Wimbledon in 1992. I asked my Dad and Mum to buy me a racquet, and my first image of tennis was grass and Wimbledon. I always dreamed of coming here, just playing in this court, and then realising the childhood dream of winning this trophy. Every single time it gets more meaningful and more special, so I’m very blessed and very thankful to be standing here with the trophy.”

In what may very well have been Djokovic’s final Grand Slam match of the season, moving one ahead of Roger Federer’s 20 career major titles and now trailing Nadal by one, the Serbian great won with quiet brilliance and fortitude. His professional attitude was in stark contrast to Kyrgios, who in the final outcome expelled way too much energy chattering to himself during changeovers and berating his box instead of focusing on beating his opponent.

Now, only Federer with eight Wimbledon titles has won more than Djokovic. Same time next year, Novak?

Krejcikova and Siniakova win second Wimbledon women’s doubles title

No. 2 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, both from the Czech Republic, won their second Wimbledon women’s doubles title and fifth major crown overall with their 66-minute 6-2, 6-4 victory over top seeds Elise Mertens of Belgium and Zhang Shuai of China on Centre Court.

The Czechs, who won the 2018 Wimbledon title, won all but three of their first-serve points (22 of 25, 85 percent), converted both of their break-point opportunities and outpointed Mertens and Zhang 45-36.

During the trophy ceremony, Krejcikova noted that her parents, Karel and Pavla, traveled to London in time to watch the final. “I have a lot of emotions right now, flowing inside of me. I was really just looking forward to playing such a big match on Centre Court and in front of the Royal Box,” she said.

Added Siniakova: “There’s a lot of emotions, a lot of feelings. The atmosphere here on the Centre Court –it’s a privilege to play here.”

The triumph was the second major title this season for Krejcikova and Siniakova, who won the Australian Open crown in January. Mertens, ranked World No. 1 in doubles, was attempting to defend the Wimbledon title she won last year with Hsieh Su-Wei of Taiwan. Zhang was seeking her third major doubles title.

Around the All England Club

Mili Poljicak became the first Croatian player to win a Wimbledon junior singles title in the boys’ singles final. On No. 1 Court, the 17-year-old from Split defeated American Michael Zheng, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3), in one hour and 56 minutes.

Zheng was looking to make it back-to-back victories for the United States, after Samir Banerjee‘s title victory last year. However, Poljicak had other ideas. He won 80 percent (33 of 41) of his first-serve points, hit 23 winners and outponted Zheng 91-83.

Poljicak is the third Croatian player to win a Grand Slam boys’ singles title, after Marin Cilic, who won the boys’ singles title at Roland Garros in 2005, and Borna Coric, who won the boys’ singles title at the 2013 US Open.

• In the men’s wheelchair singles final, No. 1 seed Shingo Kunieda of Japan completed a career Grand Slam – the first in this discipline – by winning his first Wimbledon title. He defeated No. 2 seed Alfie Hewett of Great Britain, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5), who aimed to become the second British player to win a Wimbledon wheelchair singles title after 2016 champion Gordon Reid.

Hewett served for the match four times and led 4-1 in the final-set tie-break before Kunieda rallied for the victory on No. 3 Court in three hours and 20 minutes. The 38-year-old Tokyo native hit 61 winners, converted 13 of 24 break points against Hewett and outpointed him 124-118.

The victory was Kunieda’s 50th Grand Slam title across both singles and doubles – record among wheelchair players – and it was his 28th major singles title.Kunieda became the first player to hold the men’s wheelchair singles title at all four Grand Slams simultaneously.

Kunieda’s triumph also completed a career Golden Slam: he’s a three-time Paralympic singles gold medalist and is the current holder of the Paralympic singles title, having won the final at Tokyo last year.

• The quad wheelchair singles final was an all-Dutch clash that was won by No. 2 seed Sam Schroder over No. 1 seed Niels Vink, 7-6 (5), 6-1, in an hour and 41 minutes on Court 12.

Schroder, who hit 34 winners and outpointed Vink 84-71, becomes the second player to win the quad title at Wimbledon following the retirement of two-time champion Dylan Alcott this year.

Yui Kamiji of Japan and Dana Mathewson of the United States became first-time Grand Slam champions as they won the women’s wheelchair doubles title. Kamiji and Mathewson defeated No. 1 seeds Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot, both of the Netherlands, 6-1, 7-5, in an hour and 29 minutes on No. 3 Court. Kamiji and Mathewson outpointed their opponents 70-54.

• Top seeds Sam Schroder and Niels Vink, both from the Netherlands, who competed earlier in the day in the quad wheelchair singles final, teamed to win the quad wheelchair doubles title. The Dutchmen defeated No. 2 seeds David Wagner of the United States and Andy Lapthorne of Great Britain, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-3, in two hours and 22 minutes on No. 1 Court.

Sunday’s Wimbledon results

By the numbers

• The Wimbledon men’s champion receives £2,000,000 in prize money, while the runner-up collects £1,050,000. In total, the prize fund for the men’s singles at 2022 Wimbledon is £14,496,000.

“Quotable …”

“It’s so unexpectable these two weeks, what happened. It was such a tough match mentally and physically, so in the end I was just super happy that it finished. In this moment I just didn’t believe that I made it.

“I didn’t know what to do. It was shocking. I don’t know, maybe because I believe that I can do it deep inside. But same time it’s, like, too many emotions. I was just trying to keep myself calm.

“Maybe one day you will see huge reaction from me, but unfortunately not today.”

Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, Wimbledon women’s singles champion