Monday, September 27, 2021
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Preview: Wimbledon Final Gentlemen’s Singles

two weeks ago, 128 A man came to Wimbledon in pursuit of that coveted title, and now there are only two left. It’s no surprise that one of those two people is called Novak Djokovic, the man who has been the most dominant player over the past decade and definitely the player who has won this season. Standing in his way is rising Italian star Matteo Berrettini, who is making his debut in a major singles final. On Sunday, they will face off to determine if it’s business-as-usual for Djokovic or whether Brittini can deliver a blow to the next generation.

Whether he’s a casual tennis watcher or a die-hard fan, it would be hard to find a member of either class willing to bet against Djokovic who could win the championship match. That’s because, apart from the occasional hiccup in his head, there are no holes in the top seed match. His sending is a weapon, and many believe his consistently effective return is the greatest in the history of the sport. Possessing a lot of versatility, he can produce flawless attacking from either flanker and anywhere on the field, and his defensive skills are second to none, making him extremely hard to hit. If he has a good serving day and avoids drifting away from the baseline and relying too heavily on his defense, he’s very tough, especially in the top five.

Berrettini will be well aware of the challenges Djokovic presents, but he and Djokovic must also be aware that the Italian is a real threat to the current figure. 1. Taller and wider than Djokovic, he is certainly the more physically strong of the pair, and that shows in his serve and ground game. He gets more pop when first delivered and has more firepower in ground hits. His defense may not be as impressive as his opponent’s, but Brittany shouldn’t be looking to turn this into a war of attrition with Djokovic anyway. His game is about first-stroke tennis, which is big enough to bully the Serb and get him out of his comfort zone. If the seventh seed watched any of Djokovic’s semi-finals against Denis Shapovalov, he would have seen that his similar brand of strong tennis could put him in a position to win sets and possibly a match.

Of course, if Berrettini does catch up to the semi-finals, he will also have seen how tough the red streak can be in a tough tennis that has consistently higher stakes enough to keep Djokovic away. He also faces the uphill challenge of trying to give his best in his first ever major final appearance. Moreover, he only got one of six sets in his two previous meetings with the Serbian, and his last encounter ended with a loss a few weeks ago in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros. However, Berrettini has played some tight combos with the top seed, and there is no indication of how freely he can swing away that comes with being the obvious underdog.

The pressure in Sunday’s final could help to be a bit of a tie for the Italian as well, as Djokovic is simply not playing with the pressure that comes with being the highest-ranked and most experienced player. He currently sits for just one major title behind main rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and victory on Sunday would see him tie these two tennis legends to 20 major slams each. Equally, if not more important, Sunday’s win keeps him safe in the search for a calendar year Grand Slam championship, a feat no male player has achieved since Rod Laver played in 1969. With that kind of pressure coming from all angles, Berrettini won’t be the only challenge Djokovic faces as he hits the court in the final.

Even with all that pressure, Djokovic should be considered the favourite. Swift fans know that Brittany is a dangerous opponent with powerful weapons that can surely upset him, but if his finding last month for Roland Garros proves anything, it’s hard to turn Djokovic off, no matter the circumstances. His plethora of experience in big matches coupled with his ability to go into “lock” mode makes him a devastating combination. With the exception of a poor performance from him or an outstanding performance from Berrettini, look for Djokovic to earn victory and keep the pursuit of the Grand Slam calendar year alive and well.


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