Kyrgios said he found the past two weeks stressful

A year after he won his last Grand Slam title, Novak Djokovic is finally back at the top of the podium. In a four-set match, Djokovic defeated Australia’s Nick Kyrgios 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) to win Sunday at Wimbledon for his 21st career Grand Slam.

With his seventh Wimbledon crown, Djokovic moved past Roger Federer on the all-time Grand Slam list and is now one behind Rafael Nadal, who sits alone at the top with 22.

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To get title No. 21, Djokovic received a tremendous challenge from Kyrgios. Known for his powerful serve, Kyrgios came out firing and took the first set, 6-4, putting the buzz of a potentially massive upset in the air.

But Djokovic quickly turned the tides.

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Djokovic won the second set decisively, 6-3, including rallying back from a triple break point to even the match at one set apiece. Later, with the third set tied 4-4, Djokovic overcame a 0-40 deficit to break Kyrgios’ serve and later take the set 6-4.

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Throughout the match, the controversial Kyrgios’ frustrations were on clear display. At several points, he was preoccupied with a perceived lack of support from those in his box. Later on, he alerted the umpire to an apparently talkative — and distracting — woman in the front row who “looks like she's had about 700 drinks.”

All the while, Djokovic remained poised and was able to seize control of the match, taking advantage of even the slightest openings provided by Kyrgios, who was playing in his first Grand Slam final.

In the decisive fourth set, Kyrgios regained his focus and held serve. Djokovic did the same and eventually prevailed in a one-sided tiebreak, 7-3, en route to another Wimbledon championship.

For Djokovic, this title isn’t record-breaking as he remains one behind Nadal, who withdrew from the tournament ahead of the semifinals due to injury. He had the chance at the US Open in 2021, but was defeated by Daniil Medvedev (who was absent from Wimbledon due to the club’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players). He would have had the chance in January at the Australian Open, but his decision to not get vaccinated against COVID-19 resulted in him being kicked out of Australia, which also features a three-year ban from the country.

Djokovic lost to eventual champion Rafael Nadal at the French Open in May, but nothing could stop him at the All England Club. He sliced through most of his competition, coming close to defeat only against Jannik Sinner. Even Kyrgios playing the best tennis of his life couldn’t dent Djokovic’s armor.

As for Kyrgios, he worked his whole career to make it where he was today, at a Grand Slam final. He silenced the histrionics through most of the tournament, and focused on what mattered: tennis. It shows he’s able to narrow his concentration on tennis when he wants to, but the Kyrgios we all know — angry, frustrated, out of control — bubbled over on Sunday against Djokovic.

And those frustrations surfaced not because of a long-held grudge with Djokovic. At least now. Once upon a time, they did have one.

“Everyone knows there was no love lost for a while there,” Kyrgios said. “It was healthy for the sport. I think every time we played each other, there was hype around it. It was interesting for the media, the people watching, all that.”

Things couldn’t be more different now. Djokovic says he and Kyrgios have a “better” relationship now. Kyrgios supported Djokovic before he was deported from Australia, and he even admitted that the two of them message each other on Instagram. He said that Djokovic hoped they’d face each other in the final.

Djokovic got his wish, and he won the trophy to boot. He looks as powerful as he did last year at his peak, which is why it’s a shame that this might be his last Grand Slam of the year. The US doesn’t allow unvaccinated people to enter the country. Unless that changes, Djokovic won’t be able to play at the US Open — which will actually award ranking points, unlike Wimbledon.

But for now, Djokovic is at the top, and one step closer to owning the record for most Grand Slam titles.

Wearing a backward cap with the brim bent skyward, Nick Kyrgios hit a between-the-legs shot while warming up for the Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic.

Kyrgios was just getting started. Once play began, he tried an underarm serve. He conjured up a pair on-the-run, back-to-the-net 'tweeners on consecutive points, one a passing shot, one a lob. And for one full set Sunday, in the biggest match of his life, on one of the most famous courts in the world, at as prestigious tournament as there is, against one of the greatest players in tennis history, Kyrgios played brilliantly.

Oh, did he ever: Seven aces, 14 winners, just four unforced errors. Completely composed. No distractions. Talk about meeting the moment.

“I felt,” Kyrgios would say later, “like I belonged, to be honest.”

For a set, anyway. Then, as so often happens, he allowed little things to bother him. He let his opponent gain the upper hand. He began berating himself. And so, ultimately, Kyrgios saw his early lead vanish in what would become a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3) loss to Djokovic at the All England Club.

This was the 32nd Grand Slam final for the top-seeded Djokovic — he's won 21 such titles, including seven at Wimbledon — and the first for the unseeded Kyrgios.

“You cannot prepare (for a) match against Nick Kyrgios,” said Djokovic’s coach, 2001 Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic. “Nick Kyrgios is a genius, tennis genius.”

The 27-year-old Australian is ranked 40th and hadn't even been to a major quarterfinal in 7 1/2 years. Hasn't won a tour-level title since 2019. But he did not perform that way at the start.

"I felt like the trophy was definitely attainable today," said Kyrgios, who pounded 30 aces.

He generates as much — OK, let's be honest, more — attention for his attitude and behavior, on and off the court, as he does for his considerable talent.

Most seriously, word came during Wimbledon that Kyrgios is supposed to be in court back home in Australia next month to face an assault allegation.

He spat in the direction of a heckling spectator during one match this fortnight. He got in trouble for cursing during another — and again on Sunday.

Once his advantage on the scoreboard began to dwindle, and after he lost one return game after being up love-40, and one service game after being up 40-love Kyrgios began talking to the people in his guest box, which included his father and his girlfriend ( but no coach, because he doesn't have one ). He would yell in that direction. Or motion dismissively. He threw a water bottle.

The chair umpire heard a lot from Kyrgios, too, such as a complaint that a woman he thought had been drinking was talking to him during the match.

“I mean, look, I’ve been on a couple nights out in my life,” Kyrgios said at his news conference, “and I knew that she had too many.”

There were those who have wondered during his career whether Kyrgios would ever be able to harness his tremendous skills and make it to the final weekend of a major tournament. The ability has long been there; that's why he was 2-0 against Djokovic before Sunday, and also has victories over Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

“Everything is starting to come together for you,” Djokovic told Kyrgios during the trophy ceremony at Centre Court.

“It's tough to find consolation words after a tough loss like this, but you showed why you deserve to be one of the best players in the world, particularly on this surface,” Djokovic said. “I wish you all the best. I really respect you a lot.”

Kyrgios said he found the past two weeks stressful. The attention — and comments — on social media. And since learning he would be participating in a Grand Slam final after Nadal withdrew Thursday from the semifinals with an abdominal injury, Kyrgios couldn't sleep at night.

He said about 1 1/2 months ago, he was playing basketball with some pals in Australia and told one of them: “Look, I think I’m going to have some fun and maybe win Wimbledon.”

Came so close.

“I look back at it,” Kyrgios said, “and I’m just like, ‘How am I here?’”

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