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Nick Kyrgios And Novak Djokovic Got In Their Feelings At The Wimbledon Final

Novak Djokovic gives a post-match interview after winning Wimbledon.
Screenshot via ESPN

For a spell it looked like it might be one thing, the new thing, the we-might-never-see-this-again thing. The infamous hothead, who invites his loved ones to watch him play tennis on the world’s most famous court only to spend the ensuing hours screaming at them for not expressing their support to his satisfaction, standing toe to toe with another self-styled victim, a guy no one really likes but who everyone is forced to respect for one simple fact: He’s the best to ever do it. Sure, the petulant rebel who’d rather be playing basketball with his boys had beaten the vegan with something of a Jesus complex in their two previous meetings, but those wins weren’t at Grand Slams, and they certainly weren’t at Wimbledon. But there he is, that master of meltdowns, up a set, banging aces, losing his cool, finding it, hanging in. The lopsided equation made these flashes of possibility all the more thrilling. Could he freaking do it?

Nope.

What looked like it might be that one thing was actually that other thing. The same thing, the one we’ve seen many times before—six, in fact.

Novak Djokovic beat Nick Kyrgios 4–6, 6–3, 6–4, 7–6 (3) to win his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title and seventh in all. He now has 21 major titles, just one behind Rafael Nadal and one ahead of 40-year-old Roger Federer, who said this week he wants to try and come back for one more Wimbledon. But Centre Court belongs to Djokovic now; incredibly, he hasn’t lost a match there since 2013.

Kyrgios won the first set playing sharp, collected tennis. He smoked seven aces and committed zero double faults in the opening set, rounding it out with an average serve speed of 197 km/h. (Djokovic’s average serve speed for the set was 171 km/h.) But in the second set, Djokovic found his rhythm and managed to break serve. And in the third, cracks in Kyrgios’s mental game started to show. After failing to convert three consecutive break-point chances, he then lost a game on his serve after being up 40–0. At that point, he berated his friends and family for not cheering enough.

The Aussie was also upset by a fan he said was drunk and talking during his serve. At a changeover, Kyrgios demanded that the chair umpire address the situation. When the chair umpire said he didn’t know which fan was responsible, Kyrgios, equal parts dickhead and comedic genius, said, “She’s the one who looks like she’s had 700 drinks, bro.” It unclear if the fan was removed.

The fourth and ultimately final set was destined for a tiebreak, where experience, as it tends to in high-pressure situations, won out. By the time Kyrgios dumped championship point into the net, it was clear the match had already ended.

The crowd was politely appreciative of Djokovic’s efforts, and he made efforts to charm in his on-court interview by joking about his bromance with Kyrgios and pointing out his cute daughter in the stands. But there was no outpouring of love for him like there would have been for his contemporaries Nadal or Federer. The reason for this, which is not exactly a secret, was drilled home in his post-match interview with ESPN’s Patrick McEnroe.

“I’m very blessed to be in this position, especially considering everything that that happened this year at the beginning of the year,” Djokovic said, referring of course to his deportation from Australia for lying about the status of his vaccine exemption application ahead of the Australian Open. “I just didn’t feel emotionally in a good place for several months and just kind of trying to find the serenity and you know, the balance on and off the court and get myself in a position to fight for big trophies.”

“It was obviously very difficult last year when you left here, you had 20 [Grand Slam titles], we thought you’re gonna win, you know, multiple more,” McEnroe said. “And the last 12 months have been difficult. How were you able to turn it around?”

Djokovic credited his family and friends for support and then said:

But even with their support, I still felt lonely to be honest because of just the incredible pressure that I never faced before that was outside of sport, you know, it was nothing related to sport and everything related to all the other things. So I just found myself in basically foreign waters. I just, you know, tried to understand where I can play, what I can play, what is, you know, what is going on. I enjoyed training, but when I would go on to an official tournament, it will be different. People, especially right after Australia, where I played in Dubai, the first couple of tournaments, were looking at me a little bit differently, and I was, you know, not enjoying that at all.

If I had to summarize why exactly fans would hold Djokovic at arms length, I’d point to this as a representative example. Here he is, on top of the world, basking in glory, and yet still making a point of mentioning how it hurt his fee fees that people didn’t like that he refused, and continues to refuse, to get vaccinated amid a global pandemic that’s killed six million people. It’s bad enough Djokovic isn’t vaccinated, but its just gross that he tries to use this as an excuse to martyr himself. He went on to say:

I had to just trust that the time will heal and just time needs to pass in order for me to really understand what needs to be done and I mean, it’s there’s no one thing that I’ve done that has changed around. It is just patience, good work, and just trying to be positive about life, optimistic and wait for my opportunities, and when they’re presented try to grab them which happened today.

So close, yet so far.

Anyhow, in his post-match press conference, Djokovic reiterated that he was not vaccinated and didn’t plan on getting vaccinated. He said he hoped that the U.S. would change its vaccination status rules ahead of the U.S. Open so he can play.

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