Djokovic Wins Record-Equalling 20th Grand Slam And Sixth Wimbledon Title

Serbia's Novak Djokovic speaks as he holds the winner's trophy after beating Italy's Matteo Berrettini during their men's singles final match on the thirteenth day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 11, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic speaks as he holds the winner’s trophy after beating Italy’s Matteo Berrettini during their men’s singles final match on the thirteenth day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 11, 2021.
Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Novak Djokovic won a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title and sixth Wimbledon on Sunday with a four-set victory over Italian slugger Matteo Berrettini with rival superstar Roger Federer hailing the achievement as a “wonderful performance”.

The world number one triumphed 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 to move level on 20 majors with Federer and Rafael Nadal.

His win also put him three-quarters of the way to the first calendar Grand Slam of all four majors since 1969.

“I could definitely envisage that happening and I hope I will give it a shot. I’m in great form and played well and having my best form at Grand Slams is my number one priority,” said Djokovic.

A sixth victory at the All England Club for Djokovic, who was playing in his 30th final at the Slams, added to his nine Australian Opens, two Roland Garros titles as well as three at the US Open.

Should he win a fourth title in New York in September, he will become just the third man in history after Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) to complete the calendar Grand Slam.

“It was more than a battle. He is a true Italian hammer I felt it on my skin,” said Djokovic of Berrettini.

Of sharing the record with Federer and Nadal, he said: “It means none of us three will stop. Roger and Rafa are legends, they are the reason I am where I am today.

“They showed me what I needed to do to get stronger, physically, tactically and mentally. Over the last 10 years it has been an incredible journey that’s not stopping here.”

Federer — who bowed out in the quarter-finals while Nadal did not play — tweeted his congratulations.

“Congrats Novak on your 20th major,” said Federer, an eight-time champion at Wimbledon.

Federer praise

“I’m proud to have the opportunity to play in a special era of tennis champions. Wonderful performance, well done.”

Djokovic also now has 85 career titles while he has become the first man to break the $150 million prize money barrier.

A gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics could give him the first ever Golden Grand Slam by a male player.

“Novak is a great champion, he is writing history on this court,” said Berrettini.

Djokovic overcame a nervy start to break for 3-1, which he stretched to 5-2.

He even had a set point in a marathon eighth game which the Italian saved after eight deuces.

Reinvigorated, he broke Djokovic when he served for the set and then dominated the tiebreaker which he sealed with his fourth ace of the contest.

The top seed stormed to a 5-1 lead in the second set on the back of a double break.

Berrettini, bidding to be Italy’s first men’s Grand Slam winner since Adriano Panatta at the 1976 French Open, clawed his way back to 4-5, saving three set points, but Djokovic this time served it out for a set apiece.

Djokovic struck first again for a 2-1 lead in the third set and fought off three break points in the sixth game, a show of defiance which brought watching Hollywood star Tom Cruise to his feet.

That was Berrettini’s last chance of the set as Djokovic served it out in the 10th game.

A weary Berrettini then served up a double fault on break point to hand Djokovic a 4-3 lead in the fourth set.

Djokovic kept coming, sprinting from the back of the court to pull off a wondrous pick-up and he held on for 5-3.

Berrettini, hoping to be Italy’s first singles champion at Wimbledon, saved two championship points in the eighth game.

But he was powerless on the third as Djokovic swept to his place in history.

“It is not the end, it is the beginning for me,” said Berrettini.

“Without my family, friends, and team all this would not have been possible so I just say Grazie Grazie.”

AFP

Saudi Arabia To Stage Joshua Vs Ruiz World Heavyweight Fight

Saudi Arabia will stage the world heavyweight title rematch between Britain’s Anthony Joshua and champion Andy Ruiz Jr, promoters announced on Friday.

The December 7 fight, dubbed ‘Clash on the Dunes’, will see Joshua trying to win back the IBF, WBA and WBO titles he sensationally lost to Ruiz Jr in New York in June.

READ ALSO: Joshua To Face Ruiz Rematch Before End Of Year – Promoter

The bout will take place in Diriyah, which incorporates the UNESCO World Heritage site of Al-Turaif, on the outskirts of the capital Riyadh.

Wimbledon Men’s Final – Five Facts

 

 

Five facts on Sunday’s Wimbledon men’s singles final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer:

‘Big Three’ dominate

— With Djokovic and Federer in the final, the winner of Sunday’s match will extend the streak of Grand Slam titles won by the ‘Big Three’ of the pair plus Rafael Nadal to 11 straight major titles. Since Federer won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003, just five Grand Slam finals have been contested by pairs of players outside the ‘Big Three’.

Golden oldie Federer

— At 37 years 340 days, Federer is bidding to become the oldest player in the Open era to win a Grand Slam men’s singles title.

Ken Rosewall is the only 37-year-old to have won a major singles title in that time – he won the 1972 Australian Open aged 37 years 62 days.

30-somethings still special

— The champion will extend the streak of Grand Slam titles won by players aged 30 or older. The last 12 Grand Slam titles – including at Wimbledon this year – will have been shared between players aged 30 or older.

Djokovic chases fifth Wimbledon title
— Defending champion Djokovic is bidding to win his fifth Wimbledon title and equal Bjorn Borg and Laurie Doherty in fourth place on the all-time list. He is also chasing a 16th career major.

Federer to level Navratilova with nine?

— Federer is bidding to become the second player in history to win nine Wimbledon singles titles after Martina Navratilova who won nine women’s singles. Federer is also after 21st career Grand Slam title.

AFP

Federer, Nadal Braced For Wimbledon Epic

 

 

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal battle for a place in the Wimbledon final on Friday, 11 years after they mesmerised Centre Court in a Grand Slam championship match widely regarded as the greatest ever played.

Nadal emerged triumphant that day, winning in five sets in a four-hour 48-minute epic of fluctuating fortunes that stretched out over seven hours because of constant, momentum-shifting rain interruptions.

The Spaniard won 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-7 (8/10), 9-7 as the clock ticked past 9pm and with the famous stadium in near-darkness.

Over a decade later, the sport’s two most successful players now have 38 Grand Slam titles between them and more than $100 million in prize money each.

Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 champion at Wimbledon, has the edge overall, leading his great rival and friend 24-15 and 10-3 at the Slams.

However, it is eight-time champion Federer who just edges their Wimbledon head-to-head 2-1 after winning the 2006 and 2007 finals before Nadal famously broke the spell in 2008.

Nadal, who demolished Federer in straight sets in the semi-finals at Roland Garros last month on his way to a 12th title in Paris, admits his game has developed since 2008.

Mostly, that’s due to his age as well as the desperate need to protect his creaking knees which so often conspired against him on the low-bouncing lawns of the All England Club.

“I am running less so I need to serve better. I probably cannot play 20 weeks a year any more,’ said 33-year-old Nadal.

“I am serving better. I am hitting the backhand better. Maybe volleying better, slicing better.”

In terms of the bare statistics, there is little to choose between them.

Nadal has served up 47 aces so far and been broken just four times; Federer has 42 aces, dropping serve on only three occasions.

The Spanish third seed has yet to face a seeded player and has only been truly tested once, in his four-set second round victory over Nick Kyrgios in what was comfortably the tournament’s most bad-tempered match.

Federer, 37, is the oldest man in the semi-finals of a Slam since 39-year-old Jimmy Connors at the 1991 US Open.

He is in his 13th semi-final at the tournament and 45th at the majors.

In a career illuminated by landmarks, he became the first man to register 100 match wins at a single Slam when he came back from a set down to beat Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals.

‘Rafa can hurt you’

Federer is wary of the dangers presented by Nadal.

His loss in Paris, which took place in what he described as “insane” windy conditions, was his heaviest at the Slams in 11 years.

“Rafa really can hurt anybody on any surface,” said Federer.

“He’s serving way different. I remember back in the day how he used to serve, and now how much bigger he’s serving, how much faster he finishes points.”

The eager anticipation of their 40th clash has relegated defending champion Novak Djokovic’s push for a fifth title to second billing.

The top seed and world number one reached the semi-finals for the ninth time, racking up his 70th career win at the All England Club by sweeping past David Goffin in straight sets, reeling off 15 of the last 17 games.

In his 36th Grand Slam semi-final, the 15-time major winner faces Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut who is in his maiden last-four at the majors at the 27th attempt.

Djokovic leads the 31-year-old 7-3 in career meetings, including 3-0 at the majors.

However, the unheralded Spaniard, who had to cancel plans for his stag party in Ibiza as a consequence of his run to the semi-finals, has defeated Djokovic twice in 2019, in Doha and Miami.

‘Oldest semi-final’

“He’s got amazing consistency,” said Djokovic.

“Very flat from both forehand and backhand. He has improved his backhand. I think he’s got more depth on his backhand.

“The ball bounces lower on the grass, which is I think more suitable to his style of game.”

Should Djokovic win, it would be the 22nd occasion that a Grand Slam final has been contested by two of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal.

For the second straight year, all four of the men’s semi-finalists are aged 30 or over.

This year’s final four have also set the record for the oldest combined age of Grand Slam men’s singles semi-finalists in the Open era.

They have a combined age of 134 years 160 days -– 23 days older than the previous record, which was set at Roland Garros in 1968, when Pancho Gonzales (40), Ken Rosewall (33), Andres Gimeno (30) and Rod Laver (29) had a combined age of 134 years 137 days.

AFP

Calm Before The storm? Halep Stands Between Serena And Court Landmark

Romania’s Simona Halep celebrates beating Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina during their women’s singles semi-final match on day ten of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 11, 2019.
Ben STANSALL / POOL / AFP

 

Serena Williams’s place among the legends of tennis is assured but her mission will not be accomplished unless she at least equals Margaret Court’s record haul of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

The 37-year-old American gets a third chance in a year to go level with the controversial Australian when she plays another former world number one Simona Halep in the Wimbledon final on Saturday.

Aside from the one-on-one rivalry on court, both women have a member of the royal family rooting for them — Williams’s friend Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Halep favouring Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.

Williams will hope for a happier ending than being out-played both by Angelique Kerber in last year’s Wimbledon final and Naomi Osaka in the US Open final where a spectacular meltdown torpedoed her cause, leading her to eventually consult a therapist.

Williams claimed after her semi-final romp over unseeded Czech Barbora Strycova that the Court landmark is not on her mind.

“I thought about it this morning,” she said.

“I actually didn’t think about it since because it’s really not about 24 or 23 or 25.

“It’s really just about going out there and giving my best effort no matter what.

“No matter what I do, I will always have a great career. I just kind of let it go this morning. I feel really calm about it.”

Her claiming to be calm — she attributes this to digging into her memory and recalling how she felt when she beat sister Venus in 2002 for her first Wimbledon title — will reassure her coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

The 49-year-old Frenchman is more forthright over the reason why Williams has returned to the tour after giving birth to her daughter Olympia.

It is chasing down 76-year-old Court’s landmark set between 1960 and 1973.

‘Stronger mentally’

“That’s why she came back to playing tennis after having a baby and so many medical complications,” he said.

“The effort she’s put in, I’ve never seen something like this.

“You have no idea how hard she worked to come back to that level, and she came back for that, so it will probably mean a lot if she makes it.”

Williams’s campaign has been something of a rollercoaster.

Sublime against Strycova — who had ousted four seeds on her way to the semi-finals — she wobbled badly against compatriot Alison Riske in the previous round.

Calmness was not the adjective to describe her emotions during the Riske match and even she admits her serenity on Thursday could be replaced by a contrasting demeanour come Saturday.

“It’s a day-to-day basis with me,” she said.

“We all know that. I’m far from perfect.”

Halep, the first Romanian woman to play in the Wimbledon final, has the weaponry to upset Williams.

However, she will want her serve to be more reliable than it was in the early stages of her ultimately easy semi-final win over Elina Svitolina.

The 27-year-old has won just one of the four Grand Slam finals in which she has appeared — last year’s French Open.

But she has shown already she can deal with a partisan crowd having beaten 15-year-old Coco Gauff on Monday.

The size of the challenge confronting her is reflected in having won just one of her 10 previous meetings with Williams, although she has regularly taken her to three sets.

“I believe that I have my chance to win against her,” said Halep.

“Of course, I respect a lot what she has done and what she’s doing. But now I feel stronger mentally facing her.

“We will see what is going to happen. It’s just a big challenge for me.”

However, for Halep it is not about being the latest player to deny Williams equalling Court’s landmark.

“I’m desperate to win Wimbledon more than to stop her.”

AFP

Serena Williams’s Seven Wimbledon Titles

 

On Saturday, Serena Williams will try to win an eighth Wimbledon title and record-equalling 24th Grand Slam.

Here is a look at her previous seven victories at the All England Club:

2002 bt Venus Williams (USA) 7-6 (7/4), 6-3

— Serena defeats two-time defending champion and sister Venus to win her first Wimbledon singles title. Serena also claims the world number one ranking for the first time, adding the All England Club crown to her win the previous month at the French Open.

2003 bt Venus Williams (USA) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2

— Serena clinches her second straight Wimbledon crown with victory coming in the wake of her defeat to Justine Henin in the Roland Garros semi-finals.

Venus struggled with an abdominal and thigh injury which affected her serve and movement as the final went on.

“She’s tougher than I ever thought she was,” said Serena.

“I knew she was tough but she’s gone on to a whole different level. To play today knowing she was injured, she’s definitely up there with the real fighters and champions.”

2009 bt Venus Williams 7-6 (7/3), 6-2

— Serena again defeats her sister, the two-time defending champion. It is her third Wimbledon singles title and 11th Grand Slam singles trophy overall. She takes victory after having saved a match point against Elena Dementieva in the semi-finals.

Venus was attempting to become the first player to win the women’s singles title for three consecutive years since Steffi Graf from 1991-1993.

2010 bt Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 6-3, 6-2

— World number one Serena powers past Vera Zvonareva in just 66 minutes to win a fourth Wimbledon, preserving her record of not having dropped a set in the process.

It is her 13th Grand Slam singles title.

2012 bt Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 6-1, 5-7, 6-2

— The 30-year-old American wins a fifth Wimbledon and 14th major, becoming the oldest winner since Martina Navratilova in 1990.

The younger Williams sister draws level with Venus on five titles at the tournament.

Radwanska is the first Polish woman in a Grand Slam final since 1939.

2015 bt Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 6-4, 6-4

— A 21st major for Serena as she adds Wimbledon to her Australian and French Open titles in 2015, completing the ‘Serena Slam’ having also won the US Open in the previous year.

“There was definitely pressure towards the end. Garbine started playing really well and I just had to think to stay out there and work really hard.”

Serena was unable to complete the calendar Grand Slam when she went on to lose in the semi-finals in New York to Roberta Vinci.

2016 bt Angelique Kerber (GER) 7-5, 6-3

— A seventh Wimbledon for the American and 22nd Grand Slam title, equalling Steffi Graf’s Open era record of major titles.

“It makes the victory even sweeter to know how hard I worked hard for it. This court definitely feels like home,” she said.

AFP