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Ricky’s Preview and Pick for the Wimbledon Final: Djokovic vs. Berrettini

Novak Djokovic rides a 20-match major and Wimbledon win streak into the Wimbledon final. EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL

By Ricky Dimon

Three Grand Slams. Three Grand Slam finals featuring Novak Djokovic against a non-Big 3 opponent.

That has been the story of 2021, and it adds another chapter in Sunday’s Wimbledon championship match. After Daniil Medvedev (Australian Open) and Stefanos Tsitsipas (French Open) came up short against Djokovic on the biggest stages in tennis, Matteo Berrettini gets a shot this time around.

Although Berrettini has never played in a major final and had previously been to the semis only once (2019 U.S. Open), his current run at the All-England Club has come as no surprise whatsoever.

The world No. 9 cemented his status as one of Djokovic’s top threats when he rolled to the Queen’s Club title last month. Remaining undefeated on grass this summer (now 11-0), Berrettini’s Wimbledon fortnight includes wins over Guido Pella, Botic Van de Zandschulp, Aljaz Bedene, Ilya Ivashka, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Hubert Hurkacz. 

No. 7-seeded Matteo Berrettini is undefeated on grass in 2021. EPA-EFE/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

Berrettini has struck 101 aces throughout this event; nobody else has hit more than 65 (Denis Shapovalov). The Italian has been broken only five times, including just twice in five matches against opponents other than Auger-Aliassime.

Of course, the underdog now has to go up against the best returner–and best player in general–in Djokovic. The top-seeded Serb has reeled off 18 sets in a row since dropping his opening set of the tournament to Jack Draper. He has disposed of Draper, Kevin Anderson, Denis Kudla, Cristian Garin, Marton Fucsovics, and Shapovalov, although Shapovalov at least managed to be competitive during a 7-6(3), 7-5, was 7-5 loss.

As the Canadian’s effort indicates, an opponent with a big serve and firepower from the baseline can give Djokovic some problems. As that scoreline also indicates, however, there is nobody on tour who is more clutch than the world No. 1 in the pressure-packed moments.

Berrettini can make this interesting if he serves extremely well, but Djokovic’s return will always get the edge over Berrettini’s serve. And the biggest discrepancy is Djokovic’s experience on this stage versus Berrettini’s inexperience. Mentally, the 19-time Grand Slam champion will be too tough when it matters.

Pick: Djokovic in 3

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.