If Novak Djokovic stands at par with the other Big Two of men’s tennis at 20 grand slam titles each - after his date with Wimbledon on Sunday - the world No.1 feels he owes it to the other two legends for the player that he is today.
‘‘They are legends, they are the reason as to why I am here. When I made top 10 for the first time, I used to lose to both Roger (Federer) and Rafa (Nadal) quite regularly. It taught me what I needed to do and the last 10 years had been an incredible time for me,’’ he said after rallying to to wear down a gutsy Matteo Berrettini of Italy 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 to win his sixth Wimbledon crown on Sunday.
With all the three grand slam crowns played so far this year under his belt, Djokovic is now very much within sight of equalling the legendary Rod Laver’s record of calendar slam in 1969 if he can add the US Open in September.
Asked what it meant to be at par with the other two modern masters in terms of their tally of grand slam titles, Djokovic said: ‘‘It means we are not going to stop. Winning Wimbledon is special and I will never take it for granted. As a seven-year-old in Serbia, I was constructing a Wimbledon trophy at my room and here I am now,’’ he said on an emotional note after the final.
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The 34-year-old, who came into the title clash having beaten Berrettini in both of their previous meetings, opened a 5-2 lead in the first set with an early break but the Italian fought back to force a tie-break which he clinched to draw first blood.
It was only the second set the Serbian had lost in this year’s championships. He reacted by racing to a 4-0 lead in the second set before going on to level the match.
A single break of serve in the third and two more breaks in the fourth were enough for Djokovic to close out the contest in front of a raucous Centre Court crowd, who kept on chanting the Italian underdog’s name.
Djokovic sealed his place in the record books on his third match point when Berrettini’s backhand slice landed in the net.
The 20th slam as well as the sixth Wimbledon were not the only landmarks that he reached before a full house at the Centre Court - which had it’s share of celebrities including superstar Tom Cruise.
He became only the fourth man to win three consecutive Wimbledon titles in the Open Era after Federer, Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras and in the bargain, recorded a streak of three consecutive Grand Slam titles for the third time in his career, having won three straight Australian Open titles on two occasions (2011-13 and 2019-21).
Djokovic and Nadal, between them, have now won 12 of the last 13 Grand Slams (since 2018 Roland Garros). Dominic Thiem is the only other player to have won a major title in that time at last year’s US Open where Djokovic was defaulted.
Roll of Honour
(Last 10 years)
2021: Novak Djokovic (Serbia) beat Matteo Berrettini (Italy) 6-7(4) 6-4 6-4 6-3
2020: Tournament cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic
2019: Djokovic (Serbia) beat Roger Federer (Switzerland) 7-6(5) 1-6 7-6(4) 4-6 13-12(3)
2018: Djokovic (Serbia) beat Kevin Anderson (South Africa) 6-2 6-2 7-6(3)
2017: Federer (Switzerland) beat Marin Cilic (Croatia) 6-3 6-1 6-4
2016: Andy Murray (Britain) beat Milos Raonic (Canada) 6-4 7-6(3) 7-6(2)
2015: Djokovic (Serbia) beat Federer (Switzerland) 7-6(1) 6-7(10) 6-4 6-3
2014: Djokovic (Serbia) beat Federer (Switzerland) 6-7(7) 6-4 7-6(4) 5-7 6-4
2013: Murray (Britain) beat Djokovic (Serbia) 6-4 7-5 6-4
2012: Federer (Switzerland) beat Murray (Britain) 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4
2011: Djokovic (Serbia) beat Rafael Nadal (Spain) 6-4 6-1 1-6 6-3