Novak Djokovic tied Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal by claiming his 20th Grand Slam title Sunday, coming back to defeat Matteo Berrettini 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 in the Wimbledon final.
The top-ranked Djokovic earned his third consecutive championship at the All England Club and sixth overall.
He adds that to nine titles at the Australian Open, three at the US Open and two at the French Open to equal his two rivals for the most majors won by a man in tennis history.
“I have to pay a great tribute to Rafa and Roger,” Djokovic said during the on-court, postmatch interview. “They are legends of our sport and they are the two most important players that I’ve ever faced in my career. They are I think the reason that I am where I am today. They have helped me realize what I need to do in order to improve, get stronger mentally, physically, tactically.”
The 34-year-old from Serbia is now the only man since 1969 to collect the first three major tournaments in a season. He can aim for a calendar-year Grand Slam — something last accomplished by a man when Rod Laver did it 52 years ago — at the US Open, which starts Aug. 30.
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“I could definitely envision that happening,” Djokovic said. “I’m going to definitely give it a shot. I’m in a great form and obviously playing well. Playing my best tennis at Grand Slams is the highest priority that I have right now at this stage of my career. So, let’s keep it going.”
This was Djokovic’s 30th major final — among men, only Federer has played more with 31 — and the first for Berrettini, a 25-year-old from Italy who was seeded No. 7.
“Hopefully,” Berrettini said, “it’s not going be my last one.”
With Marija Cicak officiating, the first female chair umpire for a men’s final at a tournament that started in 1877, play began at Centre Court as the sun made a rare appearance during the fortnight, the sky visible in between the clouds.
The opening game featured signs of edginess from both, but especially Djokovic, whose pair of double faults contributed to the half-dozen combined unforced errors, compared with zero winners for either. He faced a break point but steadied himself and held there and, as was the case with every set, it was Djokovic who took the lead by getting through on Berrettini’s speedy serve.
Berrettini came in with a tournament-high 101 aces, and that’s where his game is built: free points off the serve and quick-strike forehands that earned him the nickname “Hammer.”
Those powerful strokes sent line judges contorting to get their head out of harm’s way. Djokovic occasionally took cover himself, crouching and raising his racket as if it were a shield to block back serves aimed at his body.
Not many opponents return serves at 137 mph and end up winning the point, but Djokovic did that at least twice. And the big groundstrokes that the 6-foot-5, barrel-chested Berrettini can drive past most other players kept coming back off Djokovic’s racket.
That’s what Djokovic does: He just forces foes to work so hard to win every point, let alone a game, a set, a match.
In this year’s three majors, he is 21-0. In the finals, he beat a trio of 20-somethings ranked in the ATP’s top 10: 25-year-old Daniil Medvedev on the hard courts of the Australian Open, 22-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas on the red clay of the French Open and now Berrettini on the grass.
“He’s writing the history of this sport,” Berrettini said, “so he deserves all the credit.”
On Sunday, Djokovic made only 21 unforced errors, while accumulating 21 winners. He limited Berrettini to 16 aces.
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