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Djokovic clutch when it matters, beats Kyrgios for seventh Wimbledon Tennis title and Slam No. 21

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates with the trophy after winning the final of the men’s singles against Nick Kyrgios of Australia during day fourteen of The Championships Wimbledon 2022 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Frey/TPN/Getty Images)

By Ricky Dimon

No matter the player on the other side of the net, Novak Djokovic is simply unbeatable at Wimbledon.

Djokovic captured his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title on Sunday afternoon, beating a fourth different final opponent. All-time greats, huge servers, and all-around amazing talents have thrown everything they’ve had at the Serb, but time and time again he has proven to be too good. That was the case during Sunday’s championship match, in which Nick Kyrgios came out firing but ultimately went down 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(3).

The 35-year-old improved to 7-1 lifetime in finals at the All-England Club and won his 21st major overall–putting him one behind Rafael Nadal and one ahead of Roger Federer.

Djokovic was the superior player almost the entire way on Sunday, but margins in grass-court tennis are often quite small regardless of the situation and this showdown really came down to nothing more than two games. Twice Kyrgios lost a game from either 40-0 or 0-40 ahead, first on Djokovic’s serve late in the second set and then on his own serve late in the third.

That left the 27-year-old Aussie in a two sets to one hole, thus heaping almost all of the pressure on his shoulders in the fourth. Although Kyrgios did well to deliver some crucial holds en route to a tiebreaker, it was all but over when he double-faulted on the first point. Djokovic was utterly dominant on his own serve after the first set, so a quick 3-0 lead in the ‘breaker was insurmountable. The Serb eventually converted his third championship point at 6-3 when Kyrgios netted a backhand pass.

“(There were) two key moments,” Djokovic reflected. “I felt (a) slight difference in those two moments when I was love-40, serving for the set. I felt more pressure than when I was 40-love down, 4-all in the third; he was cruising through his game. I obviously wanted to play every point regardless of being 40-love down; just wanted to practice trying to get his serves back (and) eventually wait for the opportunity. It was presented, actually. He played maybe a couple of loose points, double-fault, deuce, started talking to his box…. I felt maybe that’s the moment where I could break his serve, which happened.

“It was a huge momentum shift I think because up to that point we were quite even. (Being) two sets to one up, obviously things are looking slightly different. I felt maybe in the fourth he was not moving from (the) back of the court as good as he was doing that in the first two to three sets…. In the tiebreak when it mattered I managed to read his serve (a) couple of times. (I) blocked his serve back in play–made him play an extra shot, and he missed.”

Wimbledon Champion Novak Djokovic with his trophy alongside runner up Nick Kyrgios following The Final of the Gentlemen’s Singles on day fourteen of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2022. (Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images)

Djokovic hasn’t been missing at all in SW19. He has now won 28 matches in a row, during which he previously defeated Kevin Anderson, Roger Federer (13-12 in the fifth set), and Matteo Berrettini in finals.

But it never gets old.

“(I’m) obviously over the moon with joy and happiness of experiencing this moment once again,” Djokovic assured. “I’ve said it many times: this tournament is extra special for me because it has been the first tournament that I’ve ever watched as a kid that got me to start playing tennis. I don’t take any wins for granted, and particularly not in Wimbledon. [On the] contrary, actually every time feels a bit different (and) special in its own way.”

For Kyrgios, the wait continues–even though this was by far his best-ever Grand Slam result.

“I felt like the trophy was definitely attainable today,” the world No. 40 commented. “(I) played a hell of a first set and put myself in a position to obviously take a stranglehold of the match.

“He’s just really composed. It’s weird; I felt like he didn’t do anything amazing today. He returned obviously the way he returns. I feel like he’s just a great returner. But he was just so composed. That’s what I was just thinking to myself. In big moments, it just felt like he was never rattled. He just looks completely within himself the whole time. (It) didn’t look like he was playing overaggressive, even though it felt like he was playing big.

“Hats off to him. That was a hell of a match. I thought I served well. I put myself in a position to win, but I just wasn’t able to play those clutch points well at all today.”

For challengers trying to take down Djokovic at Wimbledon, that sounds familiar.

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