We are not going to lie to each other. There would have been a certain irony to see triumph on the Center Court of Wimbledon, where the reverence is appropriate, the most impertinent player of the circuit. The presence in the final of Nick Kyrgios in a setting that usually honors the manners of gentlemen made cough among the members of the very select All England Lawn Tennis Club. But Novak Djokovic will have spared them this affront by winning his seventh English crown on Sunday July 10, after his victory against the terrible child of Australian tennis (4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6).
After the coronation the day before of the Kazakh born in Moscow Elena Rybakina, in the form of a snub to the organizers who had decided this year to deprive Russians and Belarusians of it, it definitely floated like a perfume of defiance in this edition like no other .
Final or not final, Kyrgios, cap backwards and basketball jersey, certainly immaculate as tradition dictates, did not wish to deviate from his clothing habits. No question either of watering down his tennis, which is as nonchalant as it is flamboyant, despite this first for him in the big leagues: a devastating service, a trigger in the forehand, a backhand hit almost while walking and a “hand” capable of both drop shots and inspired half-volleys. In the first set, the 40e world player sometimes gave the impression of playing an exhibition match, rewarding the 15,000 spectators of the Center Court with “tweeners” (blows between the legs) and other spoon services that he allowed himself from his first game of service .
Swearing in spades in front of Prince George
But Novak Djokovic, who had so far lost their two head-to-heads, was not there to admire his little number for too long. He began to read the Australian’s service games better from the start of the second set and remained unfazed when it came to saving his face-off.
The scenario that was to follow was far too predictable: Kyrgios began to feel the mustard rising in his nose. He accused a drunken woman in the front row of disrupting him between shifts. “She’s the one that looks like someone who’s had 700 drinks,” he called out to the chair umpire, the Frenchman Renaud Lichtenstein, who gave him a warning. In the front row of the “Royal Box”, Prince George had probably not heard so many swear words in his entire young life.
Between Kyrgios and Djokovic, the time is now for “bromance”, after several years of cold war
The Australian then verbally attacked his clan, leaving his match definitively. Novak Djokovic also helped him, getting into the brain of the impudent by forcing him to overplay. The machine was launched and as often with the Serbian metronome, the suspense was quickly evacuated. After three hours of play, he knelt down to chew on his blade of grass, as he has become accustomed to since his victory against Roger Federer in 2019. Throughout the match, he was the only one not to. take for his rank.
It must be said that between Kyrgios and Djokovic, the time is now at the “bromance”, as the victor confirmed in his speech, after several years of the Cold War. The Serb had become the preferred target of the Australian, who had launched hostilities in a podcast in 2019. “I have the impression that he has a craving to be loved. He wants to be like Roger [Federer]. His celebration after games is very embarrassing. She kills me. Next time we play, if I win, I’ll celebrate in front of him. That would be hilarious, right? » In response, Djokovic had let it be known that while he admired the talent of his younger brother on the court, outside he had no “not much respect for him”.
But all that is in the past. The two men buried the hatchet at the start of the year, when the Serb was in turmoil in the antipodes. Kyrgios was one of the few players to publicly come to his defense in Melbourne, Australia, where the former world number one was taken into custody before being expelled from the country.
When receiving his trophy, Djokovic paid him a strong tribute: “Nick, you will come back here in the final. I respect you enormously. You are a phenomenal player, with incredible talent. I never imagined I could say so much praise about you,” laughed the world number 3, who has not lost on Center Court since his defeat in the final against Andy Murray in 2013 and equaled his childhood idol Pete Sampras, seven-time winner in London.
One length off Nadal’s record
With this victory, the 21e in Grand Slam, he is back in the race for history, one length behind Rafael Nadal (22, against 20 for Roger Federer).
This year more than ever, at Wimbledon, the 35-year-old player was a man on a mission. Since the beginning of his fortnight, he had not hidden the additional pressure generated by the uncertainties of his schedule. Already deprived of the Australian Open, as things stand, he will not be able to participate in the US Open either (August 29-September 11), the United States still refusing to authorize on their soil people who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19. And depends on the goodwill of the Australian authorities to be able to re-enter the territory since his expulsion.
“That’s an extra motivation to do well at Wimbledon”explained the now quadruple defending champion when he set foot on the London lawn, after having missed his chance at Roland-Garros, where Nadal blocked his way in the quarter-finals.
A year he waited for this 21e trophy in Majors, an eternity on the scale of Djokovic, who had missed the calendar Grand Slam by one step (winning the four Majors in a calendar year), at the US Open in August. “It’s a relief considering what I’ve been through this year, it adds value and meaning to it. The start of the season was obviously turbulent for me emotionally, mentally, he poured out on Sunday evening. [L’épisode australien] was an obstacle to overcome, it was not easy to close the chapter, all the media spoke to me about it, it took me a long time to face the storm deep inside me. »
Without knowing what will happen tomorrow, the lull comes at the right time in his garden.