Djokovic beats Norrie to set up Kyrgios final
Nick Kyrgios and Novak Djokovic passed each other on the training ground and began making plans to party after Sunday’s Wimbledon final, on an unconventional day of preparation for the trophy match.
The two were once resentful rivals, with Kyrgios tearing at Djokovic on the ‘No Challenges Remaining’ podcast in 2019, claiming the Serb had a ‘morbid obsession’ with wanting to be popular, the same way Roger Federer enjoyed love tennis crowds. .
More recently, however, Kyrgios sympathized with Djokovic’s plight in January when the Serb was arrested and ultimately expelled from Australia in a row due to his vaccination status.
This served to stem the flow of bad blood, and Kyrgios went so far as to suggest there was a budding “bromance” between the two.
Djokovic isn’t so sure, but the needle that once existed is unlikely to be a factor on Sunday, at least initially. Considering the volatility both men can bring to the pitch, the rapport could be seriously tested as the game progresses.
Even Djokovic predicted ‘fireworks’, but that doesn’t necessarily mean resentment.
On center court, Djokovic will be aiming for his seventh Wimbledon title, which would see him tie Pete Sampras as the second-most prolific men’s singles winner of the Open Era, behind Federer’s eight titles.
On Saturday, Serbian journalist Sasa Ozmo quoted a conversation between the pair at the Aorangi training grounds at Wimbledon, where Djokovic allegedly told Kyrgios: “It took you five years to say something nice about me, haha.”
According to Ozmo, who reports for Sport Klub, Kyrgios replied: “But I defended you when it mattered.”
Djokovic then allegedly said: “You did it, I appreciate that.”
The conversation continued on social media, with Kyrgios writing on Instagram: “Are we friends now?”
Djokovic jokingly replied, “If you invite me for a drink or dinner, I accept. PS Tomorrow’s winner pays.”
Kyrgios was unhappy with this level of celebration, instead offering, “Let’s go to a nightclub and go crazy.”
Djokovic and Kyrgios have played twice before, and Kyrgios has won both times without dropping a set. They did, however, come in 2017, in Acapulco and Indian Wells, when Djokovic was at a relatively low level.
Now the 35-year-old from Belgrade is aiming for a title that would take him to a career of 21 Grand Slam titles, one behind all-time leader Rafael Nadal.
It will be a men’s record 32nd Grand Slam final for Djokovic, and he is aiming for a fourth straight Wimbledon title, and a seventh overall. His only defeat in the Wimbledon final came in 2013 when Andy Murray beat him in straight sets.
On the other hand, Kyrgios will play his first Grand Slam singles final. He won the doubles with Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Australian Open in January, but it’s a huge step forward, and he could come in slightly cold, after his semi-final against Nadal was canceled due to withdrawal. of the Spaniard for injury.
Australia’s last men’s champion at Wimbledon was Lleyton Hewitt in 2002, but Ash Barty excelled in women’s singles last year before retiring in March.
Kyrgios, 40th in the ATP rankings, is the lowest-ranked Wimbledon men’s singles runner-up since 2003, when fellow Australian Mark Philippoussis was a lowly 48th on the list.
He is the first unranked man to reach a slam final since Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the 2008 Australian Open.
Djokovic beat Tsonga that day to clinch his first Grand Slam title, and has had 14 years of plenty since.
It’s a reminder of the company Kyrgios will keep, potentially beyond his grasp but perhaps just threatening enough if all aspects of his game come together.