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Novak Djokovic Punctuates Comeback With Third Wimbledon Title • Beating Anderson In Straights

Novak Djokovic of Serbia with the championship trophy as he celebrates defeating Kevin Anderson of South Africa in the men’s singles final of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 15 July 2018  EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

It’s safe to say Novak Djokovic is back.

 

Djokovic’s comeback from a 2017 elbow injury was slow to get going, but it has suddenly resulted in the biggest of titles. The former world No. 1 capped off his resurgence by winning Wimbledon for the fourth time in his career, beating Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(3) in Sunday’s final.

 

“I had many moments of doubt; I didn’t know if could come back to this level to compete,” Djokovic admitted. “There is no better place to make a comeback. It’s a sacred place for the world of tennis. It’s very special.”

 

Surviving a special semifinal put the Serb in this position. In a showdown against world No. 1 and two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal, Djokovic needed two days to prevail 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(9), 3-6, 10-8.

 

Anderson’s road to the final was even tougher. The 6’8” South African, who finished runner-up to Nadal at the 2017 U.S. Open, endured epic five-setters in both the quarters and the semis. He stunned Roger Federer 2-6, 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 from match point down in the third set before outlasting John Isner 7-6(8), 6-7(5), 6-7(9), 6-4, 26-24 in the second-longest match in tournament history.

 

As such, Anderson was clearly not 100 percent for the championship match. The world No. 8 did well in the third set after providing little resistance in the first two, even generating set points (five total) in two different games with Djokovic serving at 4-5 and 5-6. But Djokovic managed to force a tiebreaker and dominated it seven points to three.

 

“You always have high hopes,” said Anderson, who obviously went into the final as a heavy underdog. “Going into the match, I was hoping to draw on some previous experiences, playing at the U.S. Open in the final, obviously playing Federer a few days ago. But I didn’t really find my form the way I wanted to. Of course, my body didn’t feel great. I don’t think you’re going to expect it to feel great this deep into a tournament when you’ve played so much tennis.

 

“But I was definitely quite nervous starting out the match. I didn’t play great tennis in the beginning. I tried my best to keep at it. I definitely felt much better in the third set. I thought I had quite a few opportunities to win that third set….

 

“I would have loved to have pushed it to another set, but it obviously wasn’t meant to be.”

 

It was meant to be for Djokovic, who now owns 13 Grand Slam titles. He trails only Federer (20), Nadal (17), and Pete Sampras (14) on the all-time list.

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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