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Novak Djokovic wins Wimbledon 2021 • He is Even in Slams With Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal

By Alix Ramsay 

Be careful what you wish for, the sages tell us. But it depends what you are wishing for.

From the moment Novak Djokovic started making cardboard cut outs of the Wimbledon trophy and covering them in silver paper as a seven-year-old in Serbia (he wanted to practice his trophy lifting technique) to the moment on Sunday when he told the BBC’s Sue Barker that the Grand Slam was next on his to do list (he was cradling the real Wimbledon trophy at the time), Djokovic’s wishes have been clear.

“I could definitely envision that happening,” he said of going on to New York and winning there, too. “I’m definitely going to give it a shot. I’m in a great form and obviously playing well and playing my best tennis at grand slams is the highest priority that I have now at this stage in my career, so let’s keep it going.”

He now has three of the four trophies in his hands and, with his 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 win over Matteo Berrettini, he had collected his 20th grand slam title. He was now level with Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer: the Big Three had 60 major titles between them. But for how long?

The way Djokovic made his way through the two weeks of The Championships suggests that he has many more of these titles within his reach. He has not played particularly well; he has looked tight and nervous – but he has always found a way to win.

Berrettini, new to this grand slam final game, tried everything he and his jangling nerves could think of to stop the Serb, but Djokovic would not let him pass.

“I’m disappointed, I’m pissed because I lost,” he said, “because I think I didn’t play my best match, but I have to say it’s thanks to Novak in a way that he brought me here, made me play in this way. That’s his strength probably. That’s why he’s one of the best that ever did, you know?”

There was a point in the third set when Djokovic turned to his team and pointed to his temple. He knew that, after a couple of hours of struggle, he was beginning to think. He knew from experience how to win this match and, at last, he was using the memory of those 19 previous major wins to good use.

He tries to be modest about his accomplishments, but he knows that history is there for the taking. He is on course to become the greatest player ever. And, if he can stay fit and healthy, to put plenty of clear water between himself and Federer and Nadal.

“I consider myself best and I believe that I am the best,” he said, picking his words carefully, “otherwise I wouldn’t be talking confidently about winning slams and making history.

“But whether I’m the greatest of all time or not, I leave that debate to other people. I said before that it’s very difficult to compare the eras of tennis. We have different racquets, technology, balls, courts. It’s just completely different conditions that we’re playing in, so it’s very hard to compare tennis, say, from 50 years ago to today.

“But I am extremely honoured to definitely be part of the conversation.”

But, deep down, he believes it. He has planned for this since he was a little boy and now, after a lifetime of work, he is getting what he wished for.