Djoker beats aces

To no one's surprise, Novak Djokovic of Serbia defeated Nick Kyrgios of Australia yesterday to win the men's singles tennis championship at Wimbledon. It was the fourth straight title for Djokovic at that event, and his seventh of their last 11. 

The final match featured some extremely high-quality play. The unorthodox Kyrgios came out firing absolute bullets for serves, and even Djokovic, one of the great returners in the game, could not get a racquet on them. But after the challenger took the first set, Djokovic finally started returning, and that's where the tide turned. The defending champ took the next two sets easily, and won a tiebreaker for the fourth and final set.

After showing the world his best, Kyrgios put his weaknesses on display. As is his wont, when things did not go his way, he started his yelling, which persisted pretty much to the end of the match. The shouting was directed at his coaches and family, the chair umpire, and the fans, but really, he was screaming at himself for losing. It seems as though the pressure of high-level competition is simply too much for him.

The experts seem to think that the more he yells, the worse he plays. I don't know if I agree with that. Without that outlet, I think his game might suffer. But as entertaining as he is to watch when he's playing well, watching Kyrgios's head explode, tournament after tournament, is painful. The commentators wondered aloud how much better he'd do if he just change his on-court behavior. I don't think we're ever going to find out. John McEnroe, who was once a wild man on the court himself, thought the prospect of the Aussie making it back to a major final is a long shot.

That said, Kyrgios treated the crowd to a couple of his amusing tricks. He quick-served underhand early in the match, but Djokovic was ready for it and took the point. And twice Kyrgios chased down long lobs and returned them between his legs. One "tweener" was successful, the other wasn't.

As for the Djoker, who grinds opponents down with few flashy tricks, it's unclear where he goes next. Refusing to be vaccinated for Covid, he may not be allowed into the United States for the big tournament in New York at the end of next month, and he may be denied entry to Australia again early next year. The next major tournament after that is France, on clay, which is his least favorite kind of court. But on grass, he is clearly the king.

And so ends an asterisk-marred Wimbledon, with a half-dozen or more top ranked players absent for various reasons, including viral infections and the politics of war. On the surface, it was normal enough, but you could sense the audience longing for the day when the external noise that's been disrupting things finally subsides.

One thing that will feel decidedly abnormal next year will be the absence of television commentator Sue Barker. She has been calling Wimbledon for the BBC for 30 years, and as best I could tell when I was over there, she is a major celebrity in the U.K. She's retiring now, at age 66.

In the American cable booth, we had McEnroe and his brother Patrick, both of whom were perfect. But I wish I had a dollar for every time their colleague, Chris Fowler, said "Federer" and "Serena." Dude, they are both ancient history. Give it a rest.


  1. Jack, you do like your tennis. Great commentary.

    1. Thank you. I started watching it again around five years ago and really got hooked. I think it might have been the advent of high-definition television that brought it to life for me.


Post a Comment

The platform used for this blog is awfully wonky when it comes to comments. It may work for you, it may not. It's a Google thing, and beyond my control. Apologies if you can't get through. You can email me a comment at, and if it's appropriate, I can post it here for you.