A look at last year’s edition of Wimbledon

It’s that time of year again, as tennis fans gear up for Wimbledon. The summer sun engulfing London’s grass court, making the emerald green stand out even more lusciously than usual, and as a full crowd prepare for their return to the capital in full numbers for the first time since 2019, there is that extra aura of anticipation in the air. Serving as the third Grand Slam of the year, the world’s oldest tennis tournament invites tennis fans back to SW19, with a clear winner still proving hard to call when looking at the Wimbledon 2022 odds.

Indeed, the sport seems to be at a bit of a cross roads on current form, with a new generation of stars rising through the ranks in contention of the conventional ‘big three’. Daniil Medvedev, Madrid Open winner Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas are all paving the way for Gen Z talent, and despite Andy Murray’s loss of form, Rafael Nadal’s win in Roland Garros is proof there is still fight left in the old guard. However, the Spanish ‘King of Clay’ is still plagued by injuries in the twilight of his prime.

Then there is Novak Djokovic — perhaps the cream of the crop. While his vaccine status denied him a chance to retain the Australian Open, and somewhat overshadowed his last year of performances, it’s easy to forget just how dominant the Serbian was in 2021, and Wimbledon proved to be no exception. Djokovic, who ended the calendar year with five titles, and only a loss to Medvedev in the US Open denied him a clean sweep of all four Grand Slams. However, he did win in London to add to his Paris Masters and Belgrade Open, with his sixth victory at Wimbledon his 20th career Grand Slam.

It was technically a third straight success on Centre Court for Djokovic, with the 2020 edition of the tournament cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and victory over Queen’s Club Championship winner Matteo Berrettini tasting all the sweeter with how long he waited to celebrate, even in front of a partially restricted crowd. It was meant to be a day of celebration for his opponent, with Italy’s national team tasting victory at Wembley just a few miles north in the Euros final later in the evening, but the Rome native was left deflated after the 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4 6-3 defeat.

Despite his best efforts on the day, Berrettini just couldn’t break through — this was Djokovic at his scariest best, with a variety of powerful smashes and precise backhands that drowned out all the support the Italian had gained from the crowd. This was destiny for Djokovic, who was full of pride after the victory had been secured.

“Winning Wimbledon was always the biggest dream for me when I was a kid,” he said. “A seven-year-old boy in Serbia constructing a Wimbledon trophy with improvised materials and standing here with a sixth real trophy is incredible. It is amazing.”

With the Wimbledon success the Serbian ensured that tennis’s big three were not finished, and Nadal’s French Open victory almost a year later showed that, with the success at Wimbledon a catalyst to push on for more.

“It means none of us three will stop,” he said. “I think that’s what [No 20] means. I have to pay a great tribute to Rafa and Roger. They are legends of our sport and they are the two most important players that I ever faced in my career. They are the reason that I am where I am today.”

Having turned 35 back in May, we might not see such consistency again from Djokovic, but as we approach another year at Wimbledon, it will be interesting to see if he can replicate another big performance or a new champion will be crowned at Centre Court.

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