Novak Djokovic has moved within a set of his seventh Wimbledon title after a returning masterclass took the top seed to the third set against Nick Kyrgios in Sunday’s championship match at the grass-court major.
Djokovic, chasing his fourth consecutive title at SW19, leads the Australian 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. His current winning streak of 27 matches at the grass-court major is the fourth-longest men’s singles winning streak at the event in the Open Era.
Should the Serbian complete his first tour-level win in three attempts against Kyrgios, he will move within one of Rafael Nadal’s record 22 Grand Slam titles. It would also draw the 35-year-old level with legendary American Pete Sampras’ tally of seven trophies won at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
Kyrgios, who had never been beyond the quarter-finals at a Grand Slam prior to this fortnight in London, is seeking his maiden Grand Slam crown. Should he defeat Djokovic in London, the 27-year-old will be the first Australian man to win the Wimbledon singles title since Lleyton Hewitt in 2002.
The No. 40 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Kyrgios has the most tour-level match wins on grass in 2022 with 12. The Australian is chasing is maiden title on the surface, with all six of his ATP Tour crowns coming on hard courts.
It is the third ATP Head2Head meeting between Djokovic and Kyrgios. The Australian has won both previous meetings between the pair, straight-sets victories in Acapulo and Indian Wells in 2017.
The 27-year-old Kyrgios showcased his trademark variety frequently in the early stages on Centre Court. He landed a 125 mph second-serve ace and used an underarm serve in his opening service game, before curling a stunning forehand down-the-line winner for 15/15 at 1-1.
Kyrgios settled in quickly behind his huge serve in warm temperatures in London. He lost just five points behind his delivery in the first set, and a solitary break in the fifth game was enough for him to move ahead as six-time champion Djokovic struggled to make an impact early in his eighth Wimbledon final.
Djokovic, widely considered one of the greatest returners of all time, had been unable to break Kyrgios’ serve in either of the pair’s previous matches. The Serbian broke that duck in style early in the second set, however, breaking to love for 3-1 as the 20-time Grand Slam champion was typically resilient despite the early Kyrgios barrage.
That proved enough for top seed to level the match, although Djokovic had to fend off four break points to serve out for the set in the 10th game.
Djokovic remained zoned in on return in the third set. The Serbian took Kyrgios to deuce in four of the Australian’s service games, as hit cleanly through the ball on his backhand wing in particular. Although he was forced to be patient as Kyrgios found big deliveries at key moments, Djokovic rallied from 40/0 down in the ninth game to claim a crucial break as he his masterful returning frequently pressured the Australian on Centre Court.
As the chatter from an increasingly frustrated Kyrgios to his player’s box increased, Djokovic calmly wrapped up the set behind some precise serving to move within one set of his 21st Grand Slam title.
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