Novak Djokovic has now caught up to the two winningest men’s tennis players of all time, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be slowing down anytime soon.
Djokovic won his 6th Wimbledon title on Sunday, beating Italy’s Matteo Berrettini (4)6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3. It’s his 20th Grand Slam title, tying him with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for the most all-time in men’s tennis.
But Berrettini didn’t make it easy for him. The first set was an epic 70-minute battle. Gifted with numerous chances to outplay Djokovic in the early part of the set, Berrettini wasted them by hitting balls into the net and sending shots long and wide. Suddenly he was down 5-2, but that’s when he came alive. He won six of the next seven games and tied the set at 6-6, then gritted out the tiebreak to take the first set.
The second set got out of hand for Berrettini pretty quickly. In the blink of an eye he was down 4-0, having been competitive in just half of those games. But instead of giving in and conserving energy in the face of a four-game deficit, Berrettini began to fight back and break up Djokovic’s dominance. He won four of the next five games and was just one away from once again tying it up. But as he’s done so many times before, Djokovic dug deep and silenced Berrettini, winning the set without letting him score a single point in the final game.
Djokovic and Berrettini began trading games in the third, and the crowd loved it. They were totally wound up, shouting “NOVAK” and “MATTEO” between games and even between points. Berrettini continued putting up a good fight, but Djokovic’s win started to feel inevitable. It’s not just his conditioning and movement on the court, but he constantly outthinks his opponents. Berrettini was gasping by the end of the third set, and Djokovic got within one set of his 20th Grand Slam win.
Coming into Sunday, Djokovic was 11-0 when going up 2-1 in a Grand Slam finals. Against Berrettini, that number went from 11 to 12. But Berrettini raised his level in the fourth set and wouldn’t give in. He made Djokovic work for every single point in the fourth set, even going ahead 3-2 before Djokovic grabbed control again and won the set and the match.
After the match, Djokovic gave a lot of credit to Berrettini for giving him “more than a battle” before discussing what this landmark win means to him. He said that as a seven-year-old boy, he constructed his own Wimbledon trophy in his bedroom, so it’s a continuation of a lifelong dream. He also thanked Nadal and Federer for challenging him to constantly up his game both mentally and physically.
The calendar Grand Slam, which has only been done once in the Open Era, is now within Djokovic’s reach. But not only that, the very rare Golden Slam, which is all four Grand Slams plus an Olympic gold medal in one calendar year, is a strong possibility. If he keeps playing this kind of relentlessly dominant tennis, he has more than a good chance.
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