Novak Djokovic won his sixth Wimbledon Gentleman’s singles title, drawing level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 Grand Slam successes, but Matteo Berrettini made him work very hard for it.
The Italian, making his debut as a Grand Slam finalist, began nervously but recovered to take advantage of a sub-par period from Djokovic to take the first set on a tie-break. He had come into the final on an 11-match winning streak, all on grass, since losing to Djokovic in the quarter-finals at Roland-Garros, and his facility on the surface was evident.
That breakthrough encouraged his supporters in a fervent crowd to believe Berrettini could become the first Italian man to win a Grand Slam since Adriano Pannatta at Roland-Garros in 1976, and the first to do so at Wimbledon.
However Djokovic, though nine years his elder at 34, slowly ground his opponent down. Though not consistently at his best when it came to the key points he more often than not found a way to win. Finally, after three hours and 24 minutes, on his third Championship point, he secured his third successive Wimbledon title.
Djokovic had committed two double faults in the opening service game, offering up a break point, and another in his second to be 0-30, but still won both. He broke Berrettini for 4-1, then 5-2. By now Berrettini had cranked his serve up to the mid-130s mph, but even then it took 12 minutes to hold for 3-5. However, the Italian then forced two break points of his own and took the second to level at 5-5. Come the tie-break he was moving and serving confidently concluding the breaker with a 138mph ace.
It was the first set Djokovic had dropped since his first of The Fortnight, to Jack Draper. But his response was fierce, breaking Berrettini twice to seize a 4-0 lead. Even then, however, Berretini pulled it back to 5-4 before Djokovic could serve out.
The Serb took the third 6-4 having broken early. It began to look a long road to glory for Berrettini whose left thigh was heavily strapped. So it proved. He pressured Djokovic’s serve but was unable to break, lost his own, and the match. Few, though, after his performances this Fortnight, would bet against him being back.