Cat Cruelty: Zouma Handed 180 Hours Of Community Service

In this file photo, West Ham United’s French defender Kurt Zouma warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between West Ham and Watford at the London Stadium, in London on February 8, 2022. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

West Ham defender Kurt Zouma was on Wednesday ordered to carry out 180 hours of community service after he admitted kicking and slapping his pet cat.

A judge at Thames Magistrates Court in east London also banned the 27-year-old France international from keeping cats for five years.

Zouma triggered international outrage after a video of him emerged in February volleying the pet across his kitchen before throwing a pair of shoes at it.

He was seen slapping the Bengal cat’s head and saying: “I’ll swear I’ll kill it.” The clip, shared on Snapchat, featured laughing emojis.

It prompted West Ham to fine him £250,000 ($315,000, 294,000 euros). He lost a lucrative sponsorship deal and selection for France.

The Premier League player arrived at court surrounded by burly minders to face a scrum of waiting media and a person dressed up as a cat.

READ ALSO: Pogba To Leave Manchester United

As he went inside, the lone demonstrator gave him a thumbs down.

District judge Susan Holdham told Zouma and his younger brother Yoan, who filmed the incident, that their actions were “disgraceful and reprehensible”.

“You must be aware that others look up to you and many young people aspire to emulate you,” she said but accepted that both expressed “genuine remorse”.

Kurt Zouma pleaded guilty last month to two counts under the Animal Welfare Act of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

As well as the community penalty and ban on keeping cats, he was told to pay court costs of nearly £9,000.

Yoan Zouma, 24, admitted one count of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring his older brother to commit an offence.

He was sentenced to 140 hours of community service.

Yoan, a lower-league footballer, sent the video to a woman he was due to go on a date with but she called off the meeting after seeing the footage.

“I don’t think hitting a cat like that is OK — don’t bother coming today,” she told him.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which brought the prosecution, has called the brothers’ actions “shocking”.

“We hope this case will serve as a reminder that all animals deserve to be treated with kindness, compassion and respect, and that we will not tolerate cruelty by anybody,” said RSPCA chief inspectorate officer Dermot Murphy.

West Ham said after the case that it condemned “in the strongest terms any form of animal abuse or cruelty”.

“This type of behaviour is unacceptable and is not in line with the values of the football club,” it added in a statement.

“Within 48 hours of the footage emerging, we fined Kurt the maximum available to the club,” it said. The money had been donated to animal welfare groups.

AFP

Electoral Act: Your Election Can Be Annulled, Gbajabiamila Tells Appointees Yet To Resign

 

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila has advised political appointees seeking elective positions to resign, saying their elections might be annulled if they refused to do so. 

He made the call on Thursday while speaking to Channels Television in London on the sidelines of a paper he delivered at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House).

According to him, Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022, which stipulates that political appointees should resign before seeking political offices in the next election, should be obeyed.

“There was a reason for every law. And that particular provision had a reason behind it,” the lawmaker said. “It had mischief it sought to cure and we all know what that mischief is.”

READ ALSO[VIDEO] Why Jonathan Can’t Run For Presidency – Falana

‘Serious Risk’

Gbajabiamila is asking political appointees to resign before seeking elective posts in the next polls.

 

While some appointees have followed the provision, he said others “remain obstinate for want of a better word and hide under the cover that there is a court decision that has nullified that provision.

“But then, there is also a court decision that said that nullification by the court should not be executed as of yet. Then, there has also been an appeal by the National Assembly to set it aside.

“So, invariably, it is a personal decision that they have to make. Therefore, the risk they run at the end of it all is if the court does find that the National Assembly was well within its rights to make such a provision that you are contesting an election while still a political appointee, then you are on a very serious risk of having your election bid annulled”.

Nickel Trading Resumes In London After IT Error

A journalist poses while looking at a computer screen with the Bloomberg display showing a one-day view of the rise and fall in the value of the nickel, in London on March 8, 2022. (Photo by Ben Stansall / AFP)

 

Trading in nickel resumed Wednesday on the London Metal Exchange but was disrupted by an IT glitch, after a suspension linked to the Ukraine crisis.

Nickel stopped trading after swiftly breaching a new five-percent daily price movement limit to stand at $43,995 per tonne on the LME.

However, the LME later said that this breach was “because of an IT system error” that allowed buyers to push price moves over the cap.

Market activity later resumed at 1400GMT, but earlier trades were cancelled after an investigation.

Nickel, used in stainless steel and electric vehicle batteries, had spiked on March 8 to a then-record high of $101,365 per tonne on a bad bet from a Chinese billionaire after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

However, the LME subsequently decided to cancel all trades made that day and halted trading.

That leaves nickel’s record high at $48,002 per tonne, set March 7.

Moscow’s invasion sparked market chaos last week owing to supply concerns in Russia, the world’s third biggest nickel producer.

The metal’s price, already soaring, was catapulted even higher by a bad pricing call from Chinese billionaire Xiang Guangda.

Guangda — owner of the world’s biggest nickel producer Tsingshan Holding Group — had bet on nickel prices falling since late last year, but was blindsided by the Ukraine war.

A short squeeze occurs when investors bet on falling prices but are then forced to close out their positions and purchase at a far higher price, triggering a spike.

AFP

London Gets First Red Weather Warning As ‘Storm Eunice’ Hits

Waves crash against the sea wall at Porthcawl, South Wales, on February 18, 2022, as Storm Eunice brings high winds across the country. Britain put the army on standby Friday and schools closed as forecasters issued two rare “red weather” warnings of “danger to life” from fearsome winds and flooding due to the approaching storm Eunice. Geoff Caddick / AFP

 

Britain’s meteorological service issued its first-ever “danger to life” weather warning for London and the army was placed on standby as Storm Eunice made landfall on Friday.

Hundreds of homes were reported to have been left without power in Cornwall, southwest England, which Eunice hit overnight, bringing gusts of 90 miles (145 kilometres) per hour.

The storm, which BBC Weather said could be one of the country’s worst in three decades, is barrelling eastwards towards London.

Read Also: Putin To Oversee Russian ‘Strategic’ Missile Drills

It has caused the Met Office to issue its first red weather warning for the capital — active between 10:00 am (1000GMT) and 3:00 pm – since the system was introduced in 2011.

The Met Office warned of “significant disruption and dangerous conditions due to extremely strong winds”, adding that roofs could be blown off, trees uprooted and power lines brought down.

Roads, bridges and railway lines have already been hit causing delays and cancellations to bus, train and ferry services.

Another red warning was already in place for parts of Cornwall and South Wales.

“Please take precautions. Please stay safe,” Home Office minister Damian Hinds told Times Radio.

“It is unusual to have a red weather warning. It is very unusual to have two.”

Trains into the capital were already running limited services during the morning rush hour, with speed limits in place.

National Highways also issued a severe weather alert for strong winds covering the whole of the country’s strategic road network from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.

The agency said there was a “particularly high risk” for high-sided vehicles.

Key river crossings including the Severn Bridge in southwest England and the QEII Bridge south of London were also closed.

The arriving storm forced Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, to postpone a trip to South Wales on Friday “in the interests of public safety”, his office said.

Ireland’s meteorological office also issued an alert for Storm Eunice, warning of “severe and damaging winds” and the possibility of coastal flooding.

Another storm, Dudley, caused transport disruption and power outages when it hit Britain on Wednesday, although damage was not widespread.

The UK government on Thursday held a meeting of its emergency “COBR” committee to discuss the response to the two storms.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed sympathy for thousands of residents left without power in northern England by Dudley.

Asked about further support ahead of the arrival of Eunice, he told reporters, “The army is on standby”.

Schools in the path of the storm announced on Thursday they would shut for the day and residents were urged to remain indoors. Heavy snow was also forecast in Scotland and northern England.

UK To Deploy Troops To Virus-Hit Hospitals In London

UK To Boost African Partnership With £30m
UK Flag

 

Britain will deploy troops to hospitals in London to alleviate severe staff shortages caused by the Omicron outbreak, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Friday.

Around 200 armed forces personnel will join health workers in the capital, which has been particularly badly hit by the recent upsurge in coronavirus cases leading to mass staff absences in hospitals.

“The men and women of our armed forces are once again stepping up to support their dedicated colleagues in the NHS (National Health Service) as they work hand-in-hand to protect the nation from COVID-19,” said Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

“They have shown their worth time and again throughout this pandemic, whether driving ambulances, administering vaccines, or supporting patients in hospital, and they should be proud of their contribution to this truly national effort.”

READ ALSO: Trump To Launch Social Network In February

The deployment will include 40 military medics and 160 general duty personnel, said the ministry.

Britain on Tuesday recorded 218,724 daily cases of the virus, the highest figure since the pandemic started.

Although deaths and patients requiring ventilators have remained steady, the sheer number of health staff testing positive for the virus and having to self-isolate is putting pressure on the system.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said there were several thousand NHS staff absent and that “having 200 extra people is going to help but it’s only a very small part of what will continue to be a very difficult situation”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday said hospitals were on a “war footing” due to staff shortages, with many hospital groups declaring “critical incidents” because of the threat to crucial services.

Omicron: London Confirms Over 65,000 Cases In Seven Days

Shoppers, some wearing face coverings to combat the spread of Covid-19, walks past stores on the final Saturday before Christmas, on Oxford Street in London on December 18, 2021. Tolga Akmen / AFP
Shoppers, some wearing face coverings to combat the spread of Covid-19, walks past stores on the final Saturday before Christmas, on Oxford Street in London on December 18, 2021. Tolga Akmen / AFP

 

London mayor Sadiq Khan on Saturday declared a “major incident” in the British capital due to the spread of the Omicron variant.

More than 65,000 new cases were confirmed in London over the past seven days, and 26,418 cases reported in the last 24 hours -– the highest number since the start of the pandemic.

A major incident is defined as an event with a range of serious consequences which requires special arrangements to be implemented, and is aimed at helping authorities support each other to reduce service disruption in the city.

Khan previously declared a major incident on January 8 during a previous wave of the virus, but stood down the order a month later as case numbers fell.

READ ALSO: Paris Cancels New Year Fireworks Over Omicron Fears

“The surge in cases of the Omicron variant across our capital is hugely concerning, so we are once again declaring a major incident because of the threat of Covid-19 to our city,” said Khan.

“It’s right that London’s key agencies work closely together to minimise the impact on our city, including helping to protect the vital vaccination programme,” he added.

Britain has recorded record case numbers for three days in a row, prompting the introduction of new regulations and reports of another lockdown on the way.

AFP

Britain Set For £7bn Transport Investment

In this file photo taken on October 16, 2021, A bus is driven on Westminster Bridge past the Houses of Parliament in central London on October 16, 2021. Britain’s upcoming budget will invest almost £7.0 billion ($9.6 billion, 8.3 billion euros) on transport outside of London, the Treasury revealed on October 23, 2021. PHOTO: DANIEL SORABJI / AFP

 

Britain’s upcoming budget will invest almost £7.0 billion ($9.6 billion, 8.3 billion euros) on transport outside London, the Treasury said on Saturday, as part of plans to cut economic inequality.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak will unveil the transport initiative during his autumn budget and spending review due on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s so-called “levelling up” programme is seen as vital to keeping voters in former strongholds of the main opposition Labour party who backed him in the 2019 general election.

His Conservative party won a swathe of seats in northern England on a promise to deliver Britain’s Brexit divorce from the European Union, as well as boost jobs and growth.

Commuters, some wearing face coverings to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, ride a Transport for London (TfL) underground train in London on October 20, 2021. PHOTO: TOLGA AKMEN / AFP

 

Recipients of the transport project cash include regions in the former Labour “red wall” that turned Tory blue two years ago and will be seen as payback for their support.

According to the finance ministry, the government will invest £5.7 billion in city regions to boost productivity via train and station upgrades, and tram network expansion.

It will also inject £1.2 billion into overhauling bus services.

The government wants to quicken journey times, simplify fares and increase services outside London, after repeated complaints that regions outside the British capital were ill-served by transport links, affecting business.

“Great cities need great transport and that is why we’re investing billions to improve connections in our city regions as we level up opportunities across the country,” said Sunak in the statement.

“This transport revolution will help redress that imbalance as we modernise our local transport networks so they are fit for our great cities and those people who live and work in them.”

Transport policy is set separately in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by the nations’ devolved administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

The government said the extra investment for England would mean additional cash for the three other UK nations under-weighted public expenditure adjustments.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Sunak will also announce the latest growth forecasts for the economy, which is battling high inflation due largely to surging energy prices and a supply chain crisis that was sparked by Brexit and Covid.

AFP

Arteta Eyes More ‘Special’ Days After Arsenal Outclassed Tottenham

Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta (C) celebrates their win in the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 26, 2021.  Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Mikel Arteta called on Arsenal to consistently match the “special” levels they showed in blowing Tottenham away in the first-half of a 3-1 win on Sunday to move above their north London rivals in the Premier League table.

Just three weeks ago Spurs sat top and Arsenal bottom after their worst start to a league season for 67 years.

However, the Gunners have been rejuvenated by six summer signings and the return to fitness of a number of key players.

Arsenal struck three times in the opening 35 minutes as Emile Smith Rowe opened the floodgates before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang rounded off a brilliant team move and Bukayo Saka rolled home the third.

Son Heung-min pulled a goal back for the visitors 11 minutes from time, but it was too little, too late for Nuno Espirito Santo’s men.

“It’s a special day. Today is one example of what we want to do, but we have to be consistent,” said Arteta.

“This win is for the fans. They were there when we needed their support.”

Arsenal climb to 10th ahead of Spurs on goal difference with both sides on nine points from six games.

However, they are going in opposite directions with Tottenham losing their last three league games by a combined score of 9-1.

“We lost complete control in the first half. We got smashed,” said Spurs captain Hugo Lloris.

“When you concede three goals in each of the last three league games you cannot hide the problems.”

The last time the north London derby took place in front of a full crowd, Unai Emery and Mauricio Pochettino were still in charge of the sides.

Both clubs have had little reason to celebrate in the two years since.

But there are encouraging signs for Arsenal that the decision to invest heavily in youth during the transfer window is beginning to pay off.

The Gunners spent more than any other Premier League club over the summer, investing £150 million in players aged between 21 and 23, despite failing to qualify for European football for the first time in 25 years.

READ ALSO: Football Must Do More To Combat Racism Than The Take Knee – Lukaku

‘Best Day Of My Life’ 


Arsenal’s English midfielder Emile Smith Rowe (R) scores their first goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 26, 2021. Ian KINGTON / IKIMAGES / AFP

 

Four of the new faces started with all 11 of the starting line-up either signed in the two years since Arteta was appointed or handed a contract extension in that time.

Saka and Smith Rowe are two of those to have committed their long-term future to the club where they came through the ranks and were the stars of a first 45 minutes that sent the Emirates into raptures.

“It’s probably the best day of my life,” said Smith Rowe.

The England under-21 international was allowed a huge amount of space to amble into the box and slot home Saka’s cross.

The hosts rampaged through Spurs with ease for a brilliant second goal in a move reminiscent of Arsenal’s glory days under Arsene Wenger.

Aaron Ramsdale, Granit Xhaka and Kieran Tierney were all involved before Aubameyang flicked a pass through for Smith Rowe to charge in on the Spurs goal and he had the presence to turn back and pick out his captain for a cool finish.

Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta (C) celebrates their win in the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 26, 2021. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Harry Kane’s day was summed up in his part for the third goal as he found himself back in his own box trying to make a tackle only for the ball to break kindly for Saka to sweep the ball past Lloris.

Kane’s frustrating day continued into the second-half as he prodded wide with just Ramsdale to beat before seeing strong appeals for a penalty waived away for a challenge by Ben White.

The England captain is still to score in the Premier League this season after Tottenham refused to relent to Manchester City’s interest.

 


Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane reacts after missing a chance during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 26, 2021. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Spurs have only scored four goals in total in their opening six games, but Son has three of them as his shot from Sergio Reguilon’s cross had too much power for Ramsdale.

AFP

PHOTOS: Buhari, Tinubu Meet In London 

Buhari, Tinubu meet in London. Photo: Facebook/Bashir Ahmad.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has met with a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu in London. 

The meeting between the duo took place on Thursday evening as the Nigerian leader continued with his medical trip to the United Kingdom.

Buhari, Tinubu meet in London. Photo: Facebook/Bashir Ahmad.

 

“President Muhammadu Buhari this evening in London, the United Kingdom, visited Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu,” presidential aide, Bashir Ahmad, wrote on his Facebook page alongside photos of the duo.

Details of their discussions were, however, not disclosed.

READ ALSO: Criticising Buhari’s Handling Of Bandits, Secessionists Is ‘Pure Hatred’ – Adesina

Buhari, Tinubu meet in London. Photo: Facebook/Bashir Ahmad.

 

Buhari had on July 26 embarked on a trip to London where he also attended the Global Education Summit on Financing Global Partnership for Education (GPE) 2021-2025.

The Nigerian leader also held a bilateral meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He is expected back to the country by the second week of August, according to his media aide, Femi Adesina.

Tinubu had also been away from the country for some undisclosed reasons, sparking rumours about his health.

But Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State who visited him in London, debunked insinuations that the former Lagos leader is sick.

“He is well, he is healthy and we conversed. We talked about what is happening in our party, what is happening in the nation and just to say to him that all is well,” Sanwo-Olu said after the visit.

“You saw him (Tinubu). Yes, indeed, I am the one you saw in the picture that I took when I visited our leader in London just to dispel all of the rumours that were flying around that he was sick and hospitalised.

“I went to see things for myself. It is just to put the mind and heart of people to rest that there is nothing for us to worry about.”

 

Buhari To Travel To London For Medical Check-Up, Education Summit

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari wearing a facemask.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari is set to travel to the United Kingdom on Monday, said his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.

Adesina, in a statement, explained that the President would embark on the trip to participate in the Global Education Summit on Financing Global Partnership for Education (GPE) 2021-2025.

After the event, he disclosed that the President would spend a few days in the United Kingdom for an earlier scheduled medical check-up.

The summit will be co-hosted by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, and the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta.

It is expected to bring together Heads of State and Government, as well as stakeholders and youth leaders, and provide a platform for partners to chart a way forward towards transforming education systems in partner countries, through the exchange of best practices.

READ ALSO: 10 Media Organisations Accredited, Others Barred From Nnamdi Kanu’s Trial

According to Adesina, the event will also offer the opportunity for leaders to make five-year pledges to support GPE’s work to help transform education systems in up to 90 countries and territories.

“Deliberations at the summit will focus on: The Power of Education – A Conversation between Global Champions; Transforming Education for Girls; Financing for Impact and Recovery and; What Now? Priorities for Transforming Education in the Coming Five Years, among others,” he said.

The presidential aide added that President Buhari would hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Johnson.

He noted that the President would return to the country by the second week of August, although no specific date was given.

President Buhari, according to Adesina, will be accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba.

Others are the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), and the Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Rufai.

UK PM To Self-Isolate When Not Working, After Minister’s Infection

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives to attend the NATO summit at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on June 14, 2021. The allies meet to agree on a statement stressing common ground on securing their withdrawal from Afghanistan, joint responses to cyber-attacks, and relations with a rising China. KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / POOL / AFP

 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will undertake “only essential government business” in the week ahead after the state health service designated him a close contact of a person infected with Covid, Downing Street said Sunday.

Johnson and finance minister Rishi Sunak were both designated but are taking part in a government pilot scheme that enables them to continue working, a spokesperson said.

The development came just as Johnson’s government prepares to ditch most pandemic restrictions in England on Monday. The pilot mandates daily testing for participants and outside of work, they must self-isolate.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed on Saturday he had tested positive for Covid-19 and was now self-isolating for 10 days.

“The prime minister and chancellor have been contacted by NHS (National Health Service) Test and Trace as contacts of someone who has tested positive for Covid,” the Downing Street spokesperson said.

“They will be participating in the daily contact testing pilot to allow them to continue to work from Downing Street.

“They will be conducting only essential government business during this period.”

Javid had a “lengthy” meeting with Johnson on Friday, according to the Sunday Times. The prime minister nearly died of Covid last year.

Javid also appeared alongside ministers in parliament last week, and one government source told The Telegraph newspaper: “I don’t see how half the cabinet doesn’t end up in isolation by the end of the week.”

Javid has only been in the job since late June, when former health secretary Matt Hancock resigned following revelations he had broken coronavirus restrictions during an affair with a close aide.

Jonathan Ashworth, the main opposition Labour party’s health spokesman, accused the government of double standards after millions of schoolchildren and workers were forced to stay home under Covid tracing rules.

The pilot’s exemption amounts to “an exclusive rule for Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak”, he told Sky News, and the public will see “one rule for them and something else for the rest of us”.

‘Pingdemic’

Javid stressed he has received both doses of a Covid vaccine and his symptoms were “very mild”. He said any member of the public feeling symptoms should get a test too.

“If everyone plays their part, you’re not only protecting yourself and your loved ones, but you’re also safeguarding the NHS and helping to preserve our way of life,” the minister said.

However, with coronavirus cases again surging, many scientists say the government is endangering the NHS with its plan on Monday to scrap most legal pandemic requirements in England.

For the first time since January, Britain’s daily Covid caseload now exceeds 50,000, and Javid has warned the figure could double from that in the coming weeks.

But the government insists that with two-thirds of the adult population now fully vaccinated, the risk can be managed, and Monday has been dubbed “freedom day” by many UK media.

Munira Wilson, health spokeswoman for the opposition Liberal Democrats, said Javid’s test result “shows no one is safe from this deadly virus”.

Urging the government “to rethink its reckless plans for Monday”, she said: “By easing all restrictions with cases surging, they are experimenting with people’s lives.”

The surge in infections sweeping Britain led to more than 530,000 people being instructed to self-isolate by a government-run app in the week to July 7, according to latest data.

Some companies such as carmaker Nissan have been losing staff en masse after they were pinged by the app — in a brewing crisis described by UK newspapers as a “pingdemic”.

Staff shortages caused by the isolation rules disrupted the London Underground network on Saturday, with one line suspended entirely.

AFP

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