MIKE DICKSON: Novak Djokovic has set up a showdown for the ages after reaching the Wimbledon final

MIKE DICKSON: Novak Djokovic has set up a bad boy showdown for the ages after reaching the Wimbledon final – where the fearsome Serbian will be aiming for a 21st Grand Slam against Nick Kyrgios

  • Novak Djokovic set up a bad body showdown for the Wimbledon final
  • The Serb will face Australian Nick Kyrgios on center court on Sunday
  • The match promises to be an exciting affair due to their respective personalities
  • The six-time Wimbledon champion will aim for a 21st Grand Slam title

The men’s singles final at Wimbledon tomorrow and it’s time to choose your villain.

Nick Kyrgios, the gifted but often temperamental son of Canberra, who as always walked through the draw with controversy in pursuit of his first Major, will be Nick Kyrgios.

Against him will be the formidable Novak Djokovic, desperately trying to come back within a Grand Slam title of the absent Rafael Nadal.

Novak Djokovic set up a showdown for the ages for Sunday’s Wimbledon final

Nick Kyrgios qualified for the final after Rafael Nadal withdrew from the game due to injury

Nick Kyrgios qualified for the final after Rafael Nadal withdrew from the game due to injury

It takes a lot to force a booed sound out of the distinguished Center Court crowd, but both inadvertently succeeded in doing so at the end of the Serbian’s clinical dismantling of Cam Norrie.

Djokovic blowing kisses at a barraqueur in the crowd at the moment of the win sparked them on Friday. It happened just when the arena seemed ready to accept that the home favorite had been beaten by the better player.

Then came another expression of disapproval – again mixed with some support – when court interviewer Rishi Persad mentioned Kyrgios’ name during his polite questioning.

So it will be a strange men’s Wimbledon final in terms of allegiances, and not a Russian in sight. You have to go back to 1984, when John McEnroe crushed Jimmy Connors, to find a pair that inspires its fair share of disgust on top of the usual admiration.

The Serb beat Norrie 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 on center court to book his place in the final

The Serb beat Norrie 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 on center court to book his place in the final

Djokovic and Kyrgios make even more of an odd couple against the backdrop of a sport that, if anything, often sees a schmaltzy excess of respect among its main protagonists.

No love between Roger and Rafa here, and it could be all the more exciting for that.

Djokovic has been relatively well received at Wimbledon this year, much more so than one might have expected a few months ago.

His refusal to take a Covid shot – which saw him kicked out of Kyrgios’ homeland just six months ago amid a storm of bad publicity – barely deserved a mention this fortnight.

As a problem, it faded here, much like the removal of computer points is going to have such a distorting effect on the rankings.

The 35-year-old is on the hunt for a 21st Grand Slam title as he chases Nadal's record of 22

The 35-year-old is on the hunt for a 21st Grand Slam title as he chases Nadal’s record of 22

Djokovic is desperate for victory regardless, and not just because there will be £2m on the table.

As things stand, his stance on vaccination means he won’t be able to compete in a Grand Slam until next year’s French Open. The United States will not allow him entry and he is serving an Australian entry ban.

He needs a 21st Slam to keep up with Nadal’s 22. It explained his nerves at first and how he was never going to submissively submit to Norrie’s impressive openness.

That’s the problem with beating these titans of the modern game in the biggest tournaments. The best-of-five format allows them to regroup and put their experience to good use, as the young Italian Jannik Sinner brutally learned in the quarter-finals.

Norrie could never get that close, although he could walk away with his head held high after a run that introduced him to a much wider constituency beyond tennis fans.

Britain's No. 1 Norrie can hold his head high after his valiant performance against Djokovic

Britain’s No. 1 Norrie can hold his head high after his valiant performance against Djokovic

Djokovic then paid him the compliment of comparing the professionalism of the British number one to his own. He told how his opponent brought his own scale into the locker room to measure his weight exactly before the match, which he considered impressive.

That kind of attitude has seen Norrie go from 71 at the start of last year to the cusp of the top ten.

There will come a day very soon when the powers of Djokovic and Nadal will diminish. While as naturally talented as some, at his rate of improvement, there’s no reason the 26-year-old left-hander shouldn’t be in for the upheaval that will naturally occur at the top of the game.

It’s been a decent summer for the Brits, who can now field a football team of publicly recognizable touring names. Right now, if you named a captain, it would be Norrie.

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