July 11, 2021
Novak Djokovic fell backwards and stared at the sky as he reflected on a sixth Wimbledon title.
He thought of when he was seven years old, creating a makeshift Wimbledon trophy in his bedroom in Serbia.
Novak has come a long way.
He has now joined the great Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on twenty Grand Slams after a thrilling final on Wimbledon’s historic Centre Court.
It’s probably time to say Djokovic is the greatest male tennis player who has ever lived.
Superhuman defence and breath-taking agility in harmony with total racquet control and unwavering self-belief.
The capacity crowd loved every moment and knew they would always be able to say “I was there.”
Djokovic didn’t even need to play his greatest tennis on Centre Court to make his dream come true with an ultimately convincing 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory.
Novak was always master of his own destiny despite some ferocious moments from the popular Matteo Berrettini.
The world number one was the more complete player all over the court in front of a packed and glamorous crowd.
It took three match points. But the result was never really in doubt once the favourite really found his rhythm.
From Tom Cruise to the Duchess of Cambridge, everyone savoured the sheer magic of the occasion.
The opening set was the best and most keenly fought.
And we knew we had a match when Berrettini came back from 2-5 and set-point down to win it with a spectacular breaker.
Perhaps predictably, Djokovic didn’t panic and set about unpicking the Italian.
The Serb’s mental strength is extraordinary and he put enough doubt in Berrettini’s mind with acute angles and wounding accuracy.
Soon Novak was 5-2 ahead once more. Yet again the admirable Berrettini struck back but this time he couldn’t turn the tide of the set.
Djokovic had the momentum. And once he had seized it, he wasn’t going to let go.
Not with the prize so monumental. Not with undisputed all-time-greatness almost within his grasp.
Federer and Nadal probably know in their heart of hearts that their achievements will be eclipsed by Novak before all three stop playing.
It isn’t a certainty. But few would bet against it.
Roger is unlikely to win another Slam. Rafa could conceivably win the US Open and regain the initiative.
But you get the impression Djokovic will have the final say now.
So we must salute and congratulate the most flexible, clinical and self-assured player there has ever been.
Berrettini’s time in the sun will come. He has made giant strides on grass and won Queen’s.
A Wimbledon title can’t be very far away and one day Matteo will become a much-loved champion.
The banners hailing “Wimblettini” were surely a sign of things to come.
This time he simply lacked the composure and belief in the biggest match of his life.
A final on Centre Court was a new experience and it showed.
For Djokovic this is such a happy hunting ground that he hasn’t lost at Wimbledon since 2017.
The Italian needed to be even more aggressive. To beat Djokovic he had to play with complete freedom.
Berrettini had his moments and can still be proud. But it wasn’t quite enough to beat Novak Djokovic – the greatest.
After hugely appreciative cheers, Matteo said: ‘Unbelievable feelings. Novak is a great champion. He is writing the history of his sport. Hopefully this isn’t going to be my last final here.’
Last word to Djokovic: ‘It was more than a battle. He has a true hammer. There is a great career ahead of Matteo.’
Then Novak truly considered what he has achieved. ‘Winning Wimbledon was always the biggest dream and it’s a huge honour and privilege.
‘I was a seven-year-old boy in Serbia constructing a Wimbledon tennis trophy from improvised materials in my room and today I’m standing with a sixth Wimbledon title. It’s incredible. Amazing.’
What does it mean to Djokovic to be level with Federer and Nadal on twenty Grand Slams?
‘It means none of us three will stop. I pay great tribute to Rafa and Roger. They are legends of our sport. They helped me realise what I needed to do to get stronger mentally, physically and tactically.
‘The last ten years has been an incredible journey that is not stopping here.’
Can he complete the Calendar Slam at Flushing Meadows in a couple of months? ‘I can definitely envision that happening and I’m going to give it my best shot.’
Ominous words for Rafael Nadal to hear. No arguments. The tennis world currently belongs to Novak Djokovic.