Calvin Betton, our resident coach, gets in touch with his thoughts on the final: “I think Djokovic will win,” he says, “but I do give Berrettini a chance. He’s got the two biggest shots on the court in his serve and FH. And he won’t bottle it. The issue is he’s only beaten one top 10 player all year, a well out of sorts Thiem.”
That is a good point: maybe the best players are good enough to cope with the power.
“What is the deal with Ash Barty?” asks Shankar Mony. “Why is she so beloved? Please don’t get me wrong, she seems perfectly nice, but so do Halep, Osaka, Pliskova, Kerber and others not named Serena who do not have a nasty streak. How come Barty seems to have cornered this nice girl market? What am I missing? I ask not to provoke, but out of genuine curiosity.”
Er, I don’t think she’s cornered the market – I love all the others you’ve named – but she speaks with candour about things that are interesting, represents something bigger than herself, appreciates what she has, and loves what she does. It’s a heady, infectious mix.
Berrettini tells BBC that he copes with the stress of competition by reminding himself that he doesn’t get stressed in such circumstances. Simple when you think about it, eh?
On 5 live the other day, Pat Cash said that Berrettini’s serve and forehand is bigger than any he’s ever seen before – and he’s seen a few. I can’t wait to see how Djokovic, the best returner ever, copes with that, and he copes with that, and how he copes with him coping with that, and how he copes with him coping with him coping with that.
Email! “Unfortunately, Gordon Reid has lost the men’s Wheelchair Singles in straight sets to Belgium’s Joachim Gerard,” says Chris Page. “But history is being made today by the women’s Wheelchair Singles being played on Court One.”
That’s great to hear. I’m in awe of all these.
Ah man, I love Ash Barty, but then who doesn’t? What a life and what a legacy that must be. No wonder Djokovic is so driven.
If Novak Djokovic never wins another tennis match in his life, he’s an all-time great and maybe the all-time great. Whether his best is the best is up for debate, but no one is or has been harder to beat on the biggest points and biggest occasions.
Thing is, Novak Djokovic is going to win many, many more tennis matches in his life – but few as important as today’s. A win here gives him his 20th major, takes him level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the top of the men’s game, and leaves him on the cusp of a calendar-year grand glam that would stand forever as one of the most ludicrous achievement in the history of sport.
Thing is, Novak Djokovic isn’t just competing for the Wimbledon title, the all-time list and the grand slam, but an even more precious and elusive reward: the love and respect of the masses.
In the 70s and 80s, the crowd had a weird relationship with its heroes – on reflection, as weird a relationship as you’d expect – with Connors, McEnroe, Navratilova and Graf not properly appreciated until they started losing. What could possibly be less couth – less Wimbledon – than seeing off all-comers with attitude, personality and style?
There’s more – and less – to it with Djokovic, but nevertheless this is where Matteo Berrettini comes in. A natural grass-courter, he is mentally monstrous, gave plenty when the two went the distance in Paris, and has a serve-forehand one-two that breaks the Geneva Convention. If anyone can stop the unstoppable, he can.
So perhaps today is win/win for Djokovic: if he wins he wins, but if does not, tearful defeat will hit a groove that might finally establish him as A Nice Guy. This is going to be intense; welcome to Wimbledon day 13!
Play: 2pm BST
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