How Novak Djokovic won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios

LONDON – Novak Djokovic kept his cool at Center Court against Nick Kyrgios to win his seventh Wimbledon Championship. When Kyrgios curled the ball into the net at championship point, Djokovic looked at his team and let out a massive exhale. The win puts him behind Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 men’s singles titles.

In a match where Kyrgios’ frustration with outages and his team grew, Djokovic kept his cool in balmy temperatures to beat Kyrgios in four sets 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3). This was his first Grand Slam singles final when Djokovic was 32nd, and the trial eventually won.

Kyrgios stormed into the first set in just 31 minutes to win 6-4, and Djokovic found it difficult to read the Australian’s serve. But then Djokovic found his rhythm, lowered the tempo very slightly and gained a foothold to take the second set 6-3 – which proved to be the turning point of the match.

Kyrgios’ frustration visibly increased during the third set and he asked the referee to turn away the spectator who said he had “drank 700 drinks, brother” and was talking to him during one of the points. Kyrgios has often directed frustration at his team, with Djokovic largely keeping his composure. And Kyrgios broke in the ninth game, then sent the ball to a 2-1 lead in sets.

The fourth set, after a solid effort from both players, went into the tiebreak. Djokovic got to read Kyrgios’ serve to win his third championship point.

This victory elevates Djokovic’s level with Pete Sampras and William Renshaw to seven singles titles at Wimbledon, one clear of Roger Federer’s record. Here’s how the men’s singles final went down on Center Court and how Djokovic maintained his composure as Kyrgios lost himself.

Taming Kyrgios serves

Djokovic doesn’t have the reputation of being the best return in the game for nothing. Man is a machine. But in the first set, he couldn’t really get Kyrgios’ serve — which included a second ace at 125 mph in just the second game of the match. Kyrgios lost only five points on his serve in the first set to find success. This means that Djokovic has lost the first set for the third match in a row at Wimbledon – and it happened for the third time in his career on grass. But Djokovic is well aware of changing things up, and soon manages to handle Kyrgios’ sending.

Kyrgios has won their previous two meetings before Sunday’s final – and Djokovic only had one chance to break the pace in those two matches. But he broke Kyrgios once in the second and third to gain a foothold. It was really cool given that Kyrgios was able to hold more than 70% of his first serve, but Djokovic was able to handle it at the crucial moments. This included the tiebreak, when he broke Kyrgios three times to allow him to serve in the tournament.

The third fireworks set in the Central Court

Djokovic told us on Friday to expect “fireworks” in this match, and although there are no flashpoints on the field between the players, he doesn’t want drama. They spoke of ‘romance’ blossoming in preparation for this match, and there wasn’t a bad moment between them during the competition, but Kyrgios was still candid as the match progressed as he managed the referee, spectator and even his own team.

When Kyrgios missed his chance to break Djokovic at the end of the second set – by giving up three set points – he ramped up the chatter towards the penalty area. He was increasingly frustrated with how the match was developing, and the chat continued into the third set. Once he said to his chest, “I don’t get it! Why?! I didn’t,” then followed up with, “I’m going to hit 130” [mph] Second transmission, that’s what I’ll do. Then he threw an ace. As he was warned of ‘audible obscenity’ during this set, all in front of 8-year-old Prince George, who was sitting in the front row of the Royal Box next to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

He was also angered by a spectator who said he was talking to him during the points. The spectator complained to the referee, “Why is she still here? She’s drunk out of her mind.”

And there was his own team, which he was getting angry at as the third set progressed. “I can’t do anything, do you care or what? I don’t feel like it. Do you know how hard it is to face a guy three times?!” This continued into the fourth, as Kyrgios yelled into his chest during the tiebreak, “What are you afraid of?!”

It was the third set when the momentum shifted behind Djokovic. Kyrgios’ frustration continued until the fourth with several incorrect calls in the lines against him, and on one occasion he told the referee, “You haven’t made any decent transgressions in three hours.”

The battle to be the ultimate men goats

Djokovic sits in the 21st Grand Slam Men’s Singles Championships, one difference behind Rafael Nadal. Nadal has always ignored the importance of exiting this golden generation with the most trophies between him, Djokovic and Roger Federer. But Djokovic has repeatedly spoken of his desire to get out before the rest. However, his stance on vaccination could make things difficult in the next four slams.

He is currently not allowed to travel to the United States due to not being vaccinated against COVID-19, while Australia issued a three-year ban after his deportation in January. This means he is unlikely to play other peace tournaments until France next year, on his less favorable surface. At the age of 35, according to his rivals, Djokovic still has a few years at the top, but the chances of winning all four slams are slowly dwindling.

What is beyond doubt is his current hold on the Wimbledon title. Kyrgios spoke about the importance of experience here – and how Djokovic will be his first Grand Slam final, knowing every piece of grass and exactly how to navigate the sport’s biggest event. He said this would give Djokovic the advantage and he proved right as Djokovic won his fourth title in the vault.

Djokovic has won his past 39 matches on Center Court, and his winning streak extends to 28 Wimbledon matches (the two losses in 2016 and 2017 occurred on Court No. 1). He has repeated his love for Center Court for the past two weeks and the next time we see him win a Slam Championship this time could be next year. At this point, Nadal will have three opportunities to stretch up front, while Federer may be in the middle of his comeback.

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