After a gruelling final against Matteo Berrettini, Novak Djokovic earned his place alongside the greats. His sixth Wimbledon title was his 20th Grand Slam crown in all, and that draws him level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the very top o/f the list.
Arriving at Wimbledon as the defending champion following his epic win over Federer two years ago, no-one could keep up with Djokovic. He lost just two sets in the whole tournament, one in the opening match against plucky Brit Jack Draper, the other in the final against Berrettini. But even those were minor blips. This was a Championship defined by one man’s brilliance, and there is simply no-one who can compete with him at the moment.
From the outset, Djokovic looked like a man on a mission. Following a turbulent 2020, which we’ll touch on later, there was a lot of pressure for him to rediscover his winning touch, and he has done just that so far this year. With the Australian Open and French Open titles already under his belt, he was the clear favourite heading into Wimbledon.
After a slightly ropey start against Draper, Djokovic quickly found his best form, and breezed through the competition, backing up his status as favourite in the tennis betting. His next five opponents — Kevin Anderson, Denis Kudla, Cristian Garín, Márton Fucsovics and Denis Shapovalov — all fell without claiming a single set, and that left Djokovic with a showpiece clash with Berrettini on Centre Court.
The Italian had been one of the stars of the grass season, having won at Queen’s earlier in the month before making it all the way to the Wimbledon final in impressive fashion. He gave Djokovic a good game too, winning the first set, before eventually tiring, allowing the defending champion to earn a hard-fought, but thoroughly deserved victory.
The fact that Djokovic has moved level with Federer and Nadal on 20 Grand Slam titles will come as a massive relief to the Serbian. Although he has been the dominant player of the last decade, he has always lagged behind his two rivals in terms of numbers and statistics, but now he has a very real claim to being labelled the greatest men’s tennis player of all time.
Indeed, there is every expectation that Djokovic will go on to surpass both Federer and Nadal. The Swiss legend showed some of his old form in making it to the quarter-finals, but at 39 years of age his days at the top of the sport are numbered. Nadal is not getting any younger either, and the Spaniard made the strange decision to skip Wimbledon to rest after a busy clay season, perhaps suggesting that the record isn’t at the forefront of his mind. With Djokovic in such good form, it’s easy to see him adding another few Grand Slam titles to his CV before he retires.
On the right track
For Djokovic, 2021 was all about getting back on course after a rocky 2020. He has made his feelings clear about the coronavirus pandemic, and he caused controversy last year by organising a tournament in the midst of it without the proper protocols and precautions in place. Then there was his disqualification from the US Open for hitting a line judge with a ball struck in anger, and a meek surrender to Nadal in the French Open final encapsulated a difficult year.
But Djokovic has turned things around, and he has cut a much calmer figure so far this season. Three titles from three Grand Slams in 2021 tells its own story, and judging from his performances at Wimbledon, there are plenty more big wins to come.