Wimbledon 2022: Djokovic times it perfectly for magnificent seventh

Wimbledon 2022: Djokovic times it perfectly for magnificent seventh
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By Paul Eddison at Wimbledon

With Novak Djokovic it is always a question of time.

After his prolonged spell in Australian immigration detention earlier this year, it was a matter of how long it would take for him to rediscover his love of tennis and his place at the summit of the game.

And in Grand Slam finals, it comes down to when his opponent can no longer live with his relentless consistency.

Djokovic is the master of the waiting game. For a set of the Wimbledon final against Nick Kyrgios he had no answer. In the semi-final, he also dropped the first set to Cameron Norrie. He trailed two sets to love to Jannik Sinner in the quarters.

But Djokovic never panics, his level never drops and he simply waits for an opportunity. With perhaps the exception of Rafael Nadal, there is no other player in tennis capable of maintaining that standard for five sets. It is why he now has 21 slam titles, second only to the Spaniard. You have to go back to 2013 for his last defeat on Centre Court. He is inevitable.

In five sets, time is always on his side. And it is that confidence that helped him come back from his Australian fiasco.

He explained: “Everything that has followed Australia, particularly on the tournaments, has been a huge challenge and obstacle for me to overcome emotionally. Once I left Australia, I left that behind me. I was ready to move on.

“Then it wasn't that easy to close that chapter because then I had the media and all of you guys reminding me of that. Of course many people as well traveling around the world, some unpleasant situations as well that keep on repeating the same movie that I kind of was part of unfortunately in Australia. That has caused turbulence inside of me. I just needed time to weather the storm.

“I realized 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 state, optimal state, where I would like to be.”

With this seventh victory, Djokovic now draws level with childhood idol Pete Sampras for Wimbledon men’s singles titles. Only Roger Federer has more.

Djokovic has now overtaken the Swiss legend for Grand Slam titles, with 21, one behind Nadal. In theory, he could draw level at the US Open.

The fly in the ointment is that Djokovic, who remains unvaccinated and has no plans of changing that, is not currently able to enter the United States.

That leaves him hoping for a change of policy from Joe Biden and his administration.

He added: “Whether or not I'm playing any tournament soon, I'll definitely be resting for the next couple weeks because it has been quite an exhausting and demanding period for me the last few months.

“Then I'll wait hopefully for some good news from USA because I would really love to go there. That would be probably the next big tournament, the next big swing, playing a tournament or two before US Open and US Open.

“I'm not vaccinated and I'm not planning to get vaccinated so the only good news I can have is them removing the mandated green vaccine card or whatever you call it to enter United States or exemption.

“I don't think exemption is realistically possible.

“I think it's just whether or not they remove this in time for me to get to USA.”

As ever with Djokovic, it is a question of time.