Friday, January 21

Brawn of Berretini presents new proof in Djokovic’s bid for the impossible | Wimbledon

BBy the end of Sunday, Novak Djokovic could be one step closer to writing his name in history. Victory against Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the final would give him a sixth Wimbledon title, a record-equal 20th Grand Slam title and leave him only needing the US Open to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete. the calendar year. grand slam.

With the Olympics to come before then, there is even a chance that he could emulate Steffi Graf’s unique feat in 1988, when he won all four slams and the gold medal in Seoul to win the “golden slam.” Despite all the accomplishments of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who currently top the all-time grand slam list, Djokovic could soon surpass them both.

It’s a goal Djokovic has been happy to talk about since winning his second French Open last month. In 2016, he was in a position to do it too, after winning in Melbourne and Paris, only to fall in the third round here and then lose in the first round at the Olympics. Five years ago, meeting a lifelong goal with victory at Roland Garros had left him helpless, unmotivated. Now he is a man on a mission.

“It would mean everything,” Djokovic said of another Wimbledon title after his win against Denis Shapovalov of Canada in the semifinal. “That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m playing. I imagined myself in a position to fight for another Grand Slam trophy before coming to London. I put myself in a very good position.

Matteo Berrettini returns during his semi-final against Hubert Hurkacz.
Matteo Berrettini returns during his semi-final against Hubert Hurkacz. Photograph: Xinhua / REX / Shutterstock

“Everything is possible in the final. Obviously the experience is on my side. But Berrettini has been winning a lot of grass court matches this year, winning Queen’s. He is in very good shape. He’s serving big, playing big. I think it will be a very tough match for both of us. But I look forward to a great battle. “

Fighting, of course, is what Djokovic does best. At 34, he seems to cover the court as well as ever, making it seem small to his opponent, the goal so small that he often misses. Its resistance knows no limits and its ability to make the correct shot when the pressure is at its maximum is perhaps its greatest quality.

That, and a huge experience gap, is what the 25-year-old Berrettini must overcome on Sunday if he is to become the first Italian to win Wimbledon, male or female. The seventh seed could emulate Boris Becker’s achievement of 1985 when, at the age of 17, he won the Queen’s Club title on his debut and later took the Wimbledon title.

Becker was one of the first people Berrettini met when he came to Wimbledon to practice after his victory at Queen’s. The German, who also won the title here in 1986 and 1989, told him to keep a clear mind if he wanted to have a good chance.

“When I crossed paths with Becker, he said, ‘To have a long career at Wimbledon, you have to be like this, like this, try to do this,’” Berrettini said. “I’m like, ‘Okay, maybe this guy [arrived] at Wimbledon and thought about reaching the final. ‘ I did not think so. I knew I could do it, but I didn’t think, ‘I’m going to do it.’

Berrettini has the weapons to do some damage, with his 101 aces more than anyone else in the tournament. The two men have the most service games won, while the Italian’s hammer-shaped forehand can go through anyone.

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But while Becker faced South African Kevin Curren, who had eliminated John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, in the 1985 final, Berrettini has Djokovic, who is chasing history and at the peak of his powers. The Serbian is a huge favorite but, on what could be a great day for Italian sport, Berrettini believes, that is half the battle.

“I took each step very carefully and slowly,” he said. “I guess it was the right thing to do. Obviously the work is not done yet. I want to get the trophy now that I am here. But it’s a really incredible feeling. “

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