As Novak Djokovic clinched his seventh Wimbledon title with a four-set victory over Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, you could sense the joy and relief washing over the Serbian. Arms outstretched, eyes glued to his coaches and family in the stands — Djokovic was taking it all in.
It had been a troubling 2022 up until that point. The circus that surrounded his non-participation in the Australian Open, and subsequent deportation from Australia, has been well documented, and the whole affair clearly had a devastating impact on Djokovic’s ability to perform. It must be said, though, that a lot of the problems were of his own doing.
Then came the French Open, where it was clear that Djokovic was lacking match sharpness, and was not up to speed for the rigours of five-set tennis matches. He lost to Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals amid a volatile atmosphere at Roland-Garros, a result that left many wondering if Djokovic still had what it takes to win titles at the highest level.
At Wimbledon, he proved his mettle yet again. Despite some challenging matches along the way, he demonstrated his unrivalled ability on grass to reach the final against Kyrgios, where he was able to ignore the Australian’s antics to claim yet another Wimbledon crown — living up to his status in the sports betting.
“This year started the way it has started and it has affected me definitely in the first several months of the year,” Djokovic said. “I was not feeling great generally. Mentally, emotionally, I was not at a good place. I realised at that point that it’s going to take some time, that I have to be patient, and sooner or later I will get myself in the optimal state.”
To come back and win Wimbledon after going through such a turbulent time is admirable, but when you think about the reason for Djokovic’s struggles, one begins to wonder if it is all worth it. The overwhelming majority of tennis players have chosen to be vaccinated, and it is Djokovic’s decision not to that has caused him such strife.
With the Serbian star unlikely to feature at the US Open later this year due to his vaccination status, it really leaves just two Grand Slams that he can compete in — the French Open and Wimbledon. He has only won Roland-Garros on two occasions, so getting his hands on the trophy is not guaranteed, especially when Nadal is around.
All this means that Djokovic’s opportunities to win Grand Slams could be greatly limited from now on. In the race between himself, Nadal and Roger Federer to amass the most Grand Slam titles before they retire, Djokovic is at risk of lagging behind.
His Wimbledon win puts him on 21, which is one ahead of Federer but one behind Nadal. He might not have another chance at a Grand Slam title until next year’s French Open, which gives Nadal and Federer opportunities to gain ground.
The joy Djokovic experience at Wimbledon put his struggles in the last year or so into greater contrast. One can’t help but feel like it could all have been avoided.