Wimbledon final: Djokovic aims for a 20th Slam, Berrettini his 1st
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) – The man standing between Novak Djokovic and a 20th Grand Slam title tied for the record, Matteo Berrettini, recalls being impressed with Wimbledon when he played in the junior event at adolescence. “For me, it was just absurd.
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) – The man standing between Novak Djokovic and a 20th Grand Slam title tied for the record, Matteo Berrettini, recalls being impressed with Wimbledon when he played in the junior event at adolescence.
“For me, it was just absurd. I asked myself: ‘Who knows if one day I will come back and play in the main tournament, if only for qualifying? I have no idea.’ And now I’m in the final, ”he said, then laughed at the thought of it all.
“So that’s a little strange,” continued Berrettini, who is now 25 and is hitting hard. “But what’s beautiful… is that I’m much more aware of what I can do now. I know I can do it, because I’m here.
That it is. On Sunday at the All England Club, the 30th major final for No.1 seed Djokovic will be the first for No.7 seed Berrettini and the first for an Italian since Adriano Panatta won the French Open in 1976. (This will also be the first men’s final at Wimbledon with a female chair umpire; Croatia’s Marija Cicak got the assignment.)
“My hope for Sunday is to try and go out on the court with my head held high, play my game and see what happens. I don’t want to think that it’s already a victory just to be there, that I can be content with that, because that’s not what I’m made of. I always want more, ”said Berrettini after beating Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 6-0, 6-7 (3), 6-4 in Friday’s semi-final. “But I have to be proud of what I do, because it cannot be taken for granted and it is not easy.”
Key to the title match could be Berrettini’s massive serves (to the tune of 101 aces and 95 of 100 catches in the tournament) against Djokovic’s best comebacks (he recovers almost everything and has won 29% of opponents’ games. service).
It could also depend on how Berrettini handles the occasion.
Djokovic recalled what it was like to participate in a slam final for the first time. He was 20 and lost to Roger Federer in three tight sets, including two tiebreakers, at the 2007 US Open.
“I was so happy to be in the final,” said Djokovic. “I was closed. I had a good game against Roger, but I probably didn’t believe enough, I guess, in victory at times when the score was close.
Self-confidence is not a problem these days for Djokovic. This should not be the case for the 34-year-old Serb either.
So Berrettini is feeling good about himself after leading his 11-game winning streak, all on turf, including a title during the Queen’s Club tune up last month – the first man since Boris Becker in 1985 to winning the trophy in his first appearance there – imagine how Djokovic sees himself right now.
The numbers and the dominance are truly astounding.
He’s won his last 18 sets, each since losing his first of the fortnight.
He has won his last 20 matches at Wimbledon, dating to the start of the 2018 tournament.
He’s won his last 20 Grand Slam matches, dating back to the start of this season, with titles at the Australian Open in February on hard and the French Open in June on clay (where he beat Berrettini in the quarter-finals).
If Djokovic adds another title on Wimbledon grass on Sunday it will put him three-quarters of the way to a one-calendar-year Grand Slam, something only two men have done, most recently Rod Laver in 1969.
Imagine the hype – and the pressure – towards New York City, where the US Open begins on August 30.
Then there is the more immediate “story at stake”, to use Djokovic’s expression after beating Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-5 in the semi-finals: luck to shoot even with the three big rivals Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most slam trophies won by a man.
Djokovic could put what would be a sixth championship – and a third in a row – at the All England Club alongside his nine at Melbourne Park, three at Flushing Meadows and two at Roland Garros.
And that would give him eight of the last 12 majors.
“The biggest challenge and the biggest task is always how to be present and how to stay in the moment regardless of the possibilities, the assumptions and the various options that exist,” said Djokovic two days before the start of Wimbledon . “There is always something at stake, I feel, for me – probably Roger and Rafa too – when it comes to the history of tennis over the past two years.”
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Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press