Wimbledon: Djokovic again rallies back to reign supreme as Kyrgios' fireworks fizzle out

By Sports Desk July 10, 2022

Novak Djokovic had predicted "fireworks" in Sunday's Wimbledon final with Nick Kyrgios, tennis' self-proclaimed bad boy and as combustible a sports star as they come.

In some regards that proved true, with Kyrgios providing those in attendance and watching at home with a run-through of his greatest hits.

There was plenty of ranting from start to finish – some perhaps going too far – with the odd interaction with the crowd and a broken racquet or two thrown in for good measure.

In between all that, Australia's first finalist here since Mark Philippoussis in 2003 produced some remarkable shots, an underarm serve and brilliantly executed tweener included.

Love him or hate him, this was Kyrgios at his ill-tempered best, and he went a long way to showing there is more to him than just a petulant twentysomething by taking the first set.

At that point, Kyrgios had reeled off five sets in a row across three meetings with his opponent without dropping one. But this is Djokovic, on Centre Court, in a grand slam final.

 And so at the end of a three-hour battle, it was Djokovic who prevailed 4-6 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-3) to make it 21 major titles, pulling him back to within one of Rafael Nadal's record.

It was the enforced withdrawal of Nadal that gave Kyrgios his route into the biggest match of his career, and thus denied the millions viewing around the world their dream final.

While witnessing tennis' two greatest ever players face off once more would have made for quite the spectacle, this was a Championship clash that provided subplots galore.

One of the themes of this year's tournament has been Djokovic's uncharacteristically slow starts, almost teasing opponents into thinking they had his number before striking back.

He trailed Jannik Sinner and Cameron Norrie in the past two rounds and so that proved again versus Kyrgios, who with those slow starts in mind let Djokovic serve first.

That appeared to be a masterstroke when Djokovic double-faulted first up, yet the Serbian recovered – as he so often does – to hold and settle into the match.

But Kyrgios went on to earn the only break of the first set in the fifth game and let out a huge roar of "Let's go!". If anything, that only worked to fire up his opponent even more.

This was hardly unchartered territory for Djokovic, who also lost the opener in last year's final against Matteo Berrettini before battling to victory in four sets.

The second set proved far more comfortable for the 35-year-old, promoting Kyrgios to take a different approach as he let loose at the umpire. It would not be the last time.

If Kyrgios stuck to his half of the bargain by being his usual self, Djokovic did likewise by focusing solely on his tennis and taking a well-contested third set with a solitary break.

As the lowest-ranked finalist in a grand slam final since Marcos Baghdatis (50) at the Australian Open in 2006, world number 40 Kyrgios surely knew his number was up.

And so it proved as for the 13th time in 15 grand slam matches when losing the opening set, it was Djokovic left celebrating as he claimed a seventh Wimbledon crown.

 This latest comeback also made Djokovic the first player since Ted Schroeder in 1949 to win the title after dropping the first set in the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.

It will almost certainly not be the four-in-a-row champion's final title, either, though it remains to be seen if Kyrgios will scale these heights again any time soon – if at all.

On this occasion, Djokovic simply proved a step too far as Kyrgios' fireworks fizzled out at the climax of a fascinating Wimbledon campaign.

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