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Sunday, July 11, 2021

Novak Djokovic eats grass and kisses the Cup for the 6th time : Wimbledon 2021

11th July 2021 – it is a Sunday and whole excitement was about Wimbledon Men’s Singles Finals (it is also the finals of Euro 2020 between England and Italy)

I don’t remember but read about Chennai Open – in 1999 - Byron Black defeated Rainer Schüttler 6–4, 1–6, 6–3. Patrick Rafter was the defending champion but did not defend his title.

Remember following Wimbledon and memory stretches back to 1977 when   Björn Borg defeated   Jimmy Connors, 3–6, 6–2, 6–1, 5–7, 6–4 [7] – it was Borg's second consecutive Wimbledon title and 4th Grand Slam title overall.  He was to win in successive years too .. and in 1980 – he was stretched, perhaps struggled against an angry  antics-filled young leftie -  John McEnroe, 1–6, 7–5, 6–3, 6–7(16–18), 8–6[5] – it was Borg's 10th career Grand Slam singles title and his 5th and last title at Wimbledon.    Between 1974 and 1981, he became the first man in the Open Era to win 11 Grand Slam singles titles (six at the French Open and five consecutively at Wimbledon), but he never won the US Open despite four finals appearances.  

It was only back in 2007 when Wimbledon became the final Grand Slam to award equal prize money to both the singles men's and women's champions. And that prize money has risen exponentially over the years from £500,000 just 20 years ago to £2.35m back in 2019. However, all Grand Slams have decreased their money pot for 2021, with Wimbledon champions receiving £1.7m (apprx INR 17.62 crore] this year. In total, the prize money on offer throughout the tournament is £35m in total for all players involved. The runner-up in both the men's and women's final will receive £900,000.[INR 9.32 crores approx.]

Ravichandran Ashwin was at the venue as also was Indian team coach Ravi Shastri.  Earlier there were reports that Novak Djokovic has spoken that  he will be supporting the Italians to beat England in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley – but in the post match conference, he diplomatically said, I like Soccer and I would watching the game ! (without stating that he would not be cheering for hosts England !)

Irrespective of what does about football .. at Wimbledon he tasted yet another success.  Serbian Novak Djokovic won his sixth Wimbledon Gentleman's singles title, drawing level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 Grand Slam successes, but Matteo Berrettini made him work very hard for it. The Italian, making his debut as a Grand Slam finalist, began nervously but recovered to take advantage of a sub-par period from Djokovic to take the first set on a tie-break. He had come into the final on an 11-match winning streak, all on grass, since losing to Djokovic in the quarter-finals at Roland-Garros, and his facility on the surface was evident.

That breakthrough encouraged his supporters in a fervent crowd to believe Berrettini could become the first Italian man to win a Grand Slam since Adriano Pannatta at Roland-Garros in 1976, and the first to do so at Wimbledon. However Djokovic, though nine years his elder at 34, slowly ground his opponent down. Though not consistently at his best when it came to the key points he more often than not found a way to win. Finally, after three hours and 24 minutes, on his third Championship point, he secured his third successive Wimbledon title.

It was the first set Djokovic had dropped since his first of The Fortnight, to Jack Draper. But his response was fierce, breaking Berrettini twice to seize a 4-0 lead. Even then, however, Berretini pulled it back to 5-4 before Djokovic could serve out. The Serb took the third 6-4 having broken early. It began to look a long road to glory for Berrettini whose left thigh was heavily strapped. So it proved. He pressured Djokovic's serve but was unable to break, lost his own, and the match. Few, though, after his performances this Fortnight, would bet against him being back.

Very well played Djoko .. .. it was indeed a pleasure watching today’s game.

Marián Vajda  a  former player, is  the current head coach of Novak Djokovic and has been his coach during almost his entire professional career, winning 83 titles together (out of the 84 won by Djokovic). Vajda is the most successful coach in the history of tennis in terms of Grand Slam titles.  Vajda has been the coach of Djokovic from 2006 until 2017, then again from 2018 to the present day. From Dec 2013 until 2016, Boris Becker was Djokovic's head coach with Vajda remaining part of Djokovic's team.  Goran Ivanišević   a Croatian former player who won  the men's singles title at Wimbledon as a wildcard is also the coach. Djokovic is a self-described fan of languages, speaking Serbian, English, French, German, and Italian. Djokovic’s wife is Jelena (earlier Jelena Ristić) who was known to Novak from his high school days and was dating her since 2005.  The  couple got married on Sveti Stefan in Montenegro,in 2014.  

It has been a long, steep climb for Berrettini since he arrived at a tennis club in Rome at age 14 and was awed by the credentials of the coach he met: Vincenzo Santopadre, whose career-high singles ranking had been 100th. Berrettini was not one of the best players in Italy in his age range, and Santopadre and the other coaches at the Circolo Canottieri Aniene wanted to give him time and space to decide if tennis was something he wanted to pursue seriously. Vincenzo Santopadre is a former player from Italy who had limited success in his playing days.  Since 2011, he has been the coach of Matteo Berrettini.

He reached the semifinals of Bournemouth in 1998 and the quarterfinals of Chennai and Munich in 1999, defeating Gustavo Kuerten in the latter. He is the son-in-law of former Poland international footballer Zbigniew Boniek. 

Berrettini's girlfriend Ajla Tomljanovic is a tennis player herself, straight from the land that Barty belongs to, and is ranked 75th by the Women's Tennis Association. Tomljanovic has been watching Berrettini in all his matches unless she is playing a tournament somewhere, and she appears to be his number one fan and supporter.  

Well played Novak Djokovic winning  Wimbledon 6 times !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
11th July 2021. 

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