Wimbledon: Djokovic, for the 20th big, to the assault of Federer and Nadal

He seeks his sixth title in London from Matteo Berrettini and thus reaches the top of his two greatest opponents.

Djokovic, this Saturday, training.AELTC / DAVID GRAYAFP

Just a few weeks ago, before the start of Roland Garros , all eyes were on Rafael Nadal. The 13-time champion of the tournament and winner of the last four editions, the same one who had destroyed Novak Djokovic in the 2020 final, was preparing to assert his status as a favorite and pass over the 20 titles of Roger’s Grand Slam. Federer.

Djokovic Short of baggage on clay, as is customary every season, he appeared in the semifinals against Nadal after lifting two sets against Lorenzo Musetti in the round of 16 and suffering in the quarterfinals against Matteo Berrettini. The initial punishment of the Spaniard, who dominated 5-0 in the first set, immediately brought to mind his conclusive defeat of October 11, 2020. Touched on his pride, ‘Nole’ responded in a big way, knocking down the left-hander and two days later he took the tournament after re-emerging from two adverse sets against Stefanos Tsitsipas. It was his second Roland Garros, his nineteenth big.

This Sunday (3:00 p.m., Movistar Wimbledon), Djokovic, who has accumulated 17 consecutive victories since he fell against Nadal in the final of the Masters 1000 in Rome, look to Berrettini his sixth title in Wimbledon and equalize the 20 majors of Federer and Nadal. Winner of the last two editions of the tournament, the most recent, in 2019, saving two match points in the final against Federer, the Serbian appears on the highest step of the podium in the best conditions, before a debutant in a final of this rank whom he has surpassed in his two preceding crosses.

You have to travel to the 2017 quarter-finals to find your last loss at Wimbledon. It was in the quarterfinals. He retired due to a right shoulder injury when he lost 7-6 (2) and 2-0 against Tomas Berdych. He did not play again until the 2018 Australian Open, where he was surprised in the round of 16 by the Korean Hyeon chung. Recurring shoulder problems caused major stumbling blocks on the hard-court North American tour. After losing with Benoit paire in Miami he considered abandoning tennis.

Shadow time

His sad passage of the clay tour, finished off with the defeat in the quarterfinals of Roland Garros against Marco Cecchinato, then 72 of the world, add shadows to his future in the elite. In the small press room number two of the Parisian tournament, he commented that he was not sure if he would play Wimbledon. He appeared at Queen’s and played a grand final against Marin cilic, the prologue to his rebirth at the All England Club, with Nadal as the victim in a gripping semi-final in installments and Kevin Anderson turned into a troupe in the final. He started a streak of seven Grand Slam titles. In the same period, Federer, defeated in the quarterfinals of this edition of Wimbledon by Hubert hurkacz, with obvious symptoms of an irreparable decline, has not won any. Nadal, three.

Nine times a winner in Melbourne, five in London, three in New York and two in Paris, Djokovic can get his twentieth at 34 years and 50 days. Federer did it at 36 years and 173 days. Nadal, 34 years old and 130 days old. But Nole’s challenge is even more far-reaching. In case of beating Berrettini , seventh favorite and recent champion at Queen’s, will become the fifth player in history to chain the first three majors of the season, joining Jack Crawford (1933), Don budge (1938), Lew hoad (1956) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969). Only Budge and Laver, this one on two occasions, completed all four in the same year.

A victory this Sunday will keep all your dreams alive, including the possibility of achieving the Golden Slam. Nadal and Andre Agassi have all four Grand Slam titles and Olympic gold, but they did it in different years. Steffi Graf, in 1988, is the only one who made it full: winner in all the majors and also in Sel. Still with a long way to go, as he has to start by winning today’s final, Djokovic, who has ensured his presence at the Tokyo Games, wants it all.