As father time firms his grip upon the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic continues to star.
The 34-year-old Serbian defeated Italian Matteo Berrettini 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 to win Wimbledon 2021 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on Sunday.
His sixth Wimbledon championship is the 20th major title of his career, tying him with Federer and Nadal for the most Grand Slam wins in men’s history.
Early indications were that Djokovic would mow through Berrettini for another Wimbledon title, bounding out to a 5-2 lead in the first set as the underdog looked shaky on the big stage.
But the Italian showed remarkable mettle to scrap his way back not just to force a tie break, but to win the first set as he won five of the next six games — punctuating the first-set win with a cannon of an ace to clinch it.
The second set looked eerily familiar to the first as Djokovic shot out to a 4-0 lead, but Berrettini stormed back to take three of the next four games to provide some more unease for the Serbian legend. It got even nervier when he squandered a 40-love advantage with Berrettini serving in the ninth game, making it 5-4.
But Djokovic stabilized in the 10th game, and with the serve, didn’t yield a single point to take the second set.
A closely contested start to the third set saw Berrettini miss a golden opportunity to stay on Djokovic’s heels. Trailing 3-2, Berrettini took a 40-15 advantage in the sixth game only to drop five straight points to fall back into a two-game hole.
It proved costly despite winning two of the following three sets, but Djokovic was able to close it out in the 10th game, again.
Into the fourth set, the two combatants traded blows, but Djokovic’s class hit an entirely different level with the title within his reach.
He broke Berrettini in the seventh game to go up 4-3 before taking the next two sets to clinch his historic Grand Slam victory.
This article first appeared on AMNY.com