Producing a returning masterclass, top seed Novak Djokovic clinched the Wimbledon 2022 men’s single title after beating Nick Kyrgios 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(3) in the final, here on Sunday.
It is Djokovic’s fourth consecutive crown at the grass-court major and seventh triumph in London, which draws him level with legendary American Pete Sampras’ tally of singles trophies won at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. The 35-year-old Djokovic is now just one behind Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon triumphs, and one Grand Slam title behind Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 major crowns.
After some scintillating Kyrgios shotmaking took him to the opening set on Centre Court, Djokovic found his rhythm on return to take the upper hand in an intriguing clash of game styles on Centre Court.
Despite Kyrgios firing 30 aces in a three-hour, one-minute encounter, the top seed broke his opponent at crucial moments in both the second and third sets before a nerveless showing in the fourth-set tie-break sealed the victory and extended his winning streak at SW19 to 28 matches.
“I lost words for what this tournament, this trophy means to me, my team, my family. I’ve said this many times. It always has been and always will be the most special tournament in my heart, the one that motivated me, inspired me to start playing tennis in a small mountain resort in Serbia where my parents used to run a restaurant,” said Djokovic at the trophy presentation.
“I was four or five years old and I saw Pete Sampras win his first Wimbledon in 1992. I asked my Dad and Mum to buy me a racquet, and my first image of tennis was grass and Wimbledon.
I always dreamed of coming here, just playing in this court, and then realising the childhood dream of winning this trophy. Every single time it gets more meaningful and more special, so I’m very blessed and very thankful to be standing here with the trophy,” he added.
Djokovic rallied from a set down for victory for the third consecutive match in London, having also come from behind to defeat Jannik Sinner in the quarter-finals and Cameron Norrie in the semi-finals. The Serbian also defeated Soonwoo Kwon, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Miomir Kecmanovic and Tim van Rijthoven this fortnight in SW19.
It was Djokovic’s first tour-level win in three attempts against Kyrgios, who had never been beyond the quarter-finals at a Grand Slam prior to this fortnight in London. Despite frequent moments of trademark brilliance from one of the biggest showmen on the ATP Tour, Kyrgios was unable to resist the relentless pressure from Djokovic’s high-class groundstrokes.
“Nick, you’ll be back. Not just at Wimbledon, but in finals. I know it’s tough to find words of consolation after a tough loss like this, but you showed why you deserve to be one of the best players in the world, particularly on this surface. Congrats to you and your team for an amazing tournament, I wish you all the best,” said Djokovic while addressing Kyrgios.
“I really respect you a lot. I think you are a phenomenal tennis player, athlete, and an amazing talent. You’ve been hearing that for many years, but now everything is starting to come together for you, so I’m sure we are going to see a lot of you in the later stages of Grand Slams,” he added.
The 27-year-old Kyrgios showcased his trademark variety frequently in the early stages on Centre Court. He landed a 125 mph second-serve ace and used an underarm serve in his opening service game, before curling a stunning forehand down-the-line winner for 15/15 at 1-1.
Kyrgios settled in quickly behind his huge serve in warm temperatures in London. He lost just five points behind his delivery in the first set, and a solitary break in the fifth game was enough for him to move ahead as six-time champion Djokovic struggled to make an impact early in his eighth Wimbledon final.
Djokovic, widely considered one of the greatest returners of all time, had been unable to break Kyrgios’ serve in either of the pair’s previous matches. The Serbian broke that duck in style early in the second set, however, breaking to love for 3-1 as the 20-time Grand Slam champion was typically resilient despite the early Kyrgios barrage.
That proved enough for top seed to level the match, although Djokovic had to fend off four break points to serve out for the set in the 10th game.
Djokovic remained zoned in on return in the third set. The Serbian took Kyrgios to deuce in four of the Australian’s service games, as hit cleanly through the ball on his backhand wing in particular. Although he was forced to be patient as Kyrgios found big deliveries at key moments, Djokovic rallied from 40/0 down in the ninth game to claim a crucial break as his masterful returning frequently pressured the Australian on Centre Court.
As the chatter from an increasingly frustrated Kyrgios to his player’s box increased, Djokovic calmly wrapped up the set behind some precise serving to move within one set of his 21st Grand Slam title.
Kyrgios regained his dominance behind serve in the fourth set but was unable to make any inroads in his own return games as a composed serving performance from the top seed continued. As the set reached its climax, Kyrgios conceded a mini break on the first set of the tie-break after gambling with a full-blooded second serve. So accustomed to handling big pressure moments in Grand Slam finals, Djokovic used that momentum to charge to an unassailable 6/1 lead on the way to retaining his title in south-west London.