Updated:Jul 10, 2022
Finals weekend at SW19 and four people were vying to become Wimbledon champion in its 100th edition, three of them were making their first appearance in a Grand Slam Singles final, whereas one was going for a fourth straight victory at these championships.
The weather was perfect too, with scorching temperatures and lots and lots of sunshine, so even the weather gods were smiling down on the championships too for the grand finale.
Saturday afternoon as always saw the Women’s final take place, and it brought together two ladies who had never reached a slam final before, third seed Ons Jabeur and seventeenth seed Elena Rybakina, Jabeur was probably the favourite going into this one, but Rybakina had swatted one of the favourites aside in the semi-final in the shape of Simona Halep, so if truth be told it was a hard one to call.
Jabeur of course was bidding to become the first Arab player to win a Grand Slam singles title, she is the first African woman to reach a slam final since 1960 and has broken numerous records on her way to the final, Rybakina has largely flown under the radar at these championships though, but that semi-final win over Halep made everyone sit up and take note.
The 17th seed, originally from Russia, changed her allegiance to Kazakhstan back in 2018 and had her breakthrough year in 2020 reaching four of five finals to start the season before the WTA season was shut down due to Covid, and if she was to win this title today, she would be the first player representing Kazakhstan to take a Grand Slam singles title, so both players were attempting to break new ground.
It was certainly a confident start from the 17th seed, holding in the opening game of the match, but after Jabeur had held her opening service game, she then broke the Kazak player and then after holding she then had more break points on the Kazak’s serve, but Rybakina managed to fight these off before holding, good gritting play from the 17th seed for sure.
Jabeur though had definitely settled the better of the two in the opening set, and after both held at 3-5 Rybakina had to face set points on her serve, and she could not save them this time, and the Tunisian was one set away from her first Grand Slam title. That set had unravelled pretty rapidly for Rybakina at the end of that set, the momentum was certainly with the African.
It’s funny how momentum can shift though isn’t it, and Rybakina came out a broke the Jabeur serve in the opening game of the second set, and she then held her service game despite saving another break point, and it could have been 3-0 had Jabeur not saved yet more break points, but she did manage to hold and stay in the set.
Jabeur then had chances to break back again but the Kazak player saved three more break points before coming through to hold, and then took complete control when breaking the African for the second time in the set to lead 4-1 and then duly served it out at 5-2 to level the match up and send the final into a deciding set, it was Jabeur who was the one struggling and Rybakina the one with all the momentum heading into the third.
The Kazak player was flying, and she broke Jabeur again in the very first game of the set, the frustration was written all over Jabeur’s face, she was in control after the first set but was now struggling to keep her opponent at bay, but at 3-2 she had three break-back points on the big Rybakina serve, maybe the was her chance to get back on level terms.
But no, Rybakina was made of tough stuff and managed to reel off six straight points to hold her serve and go just two games away from her first-ever grand slam title.
And when the Kazak player broke Jabeur again, she was serving for her first Grand Slam title, any nerves, what nerves, and she duly served it out to take the crown, what a comeback it had been from her, and what a marvellous achievement from her too, she is the 2022 Wimbledon ladies’ singles champion!!!
Spare a thought though for Jabeur who looked in control after set one, but her opponent just was too good in the end and even though the African will be disappointed, she has done so much already for her people back home who truly see her as a hero and an inspiration to them all, so that has to be good right? Jabeur will be back that is for sure, as will Rybakina whose career will definitely be on an upward trend even more than before after this success.
And so, to the Men’s final on Sunday, which saw No.1 seed Novak Djokovic take on unseeded Aussie Nick Kyrgios, what more is there to say about Novak?
He is bidding for his fourth title at SW19 in a row and a 21st Grand Slam trophy overall, this will be his 32nd major final, which is a men’s record, and he has not lost at these Championships since 2017 when he retired through injury in the Quarter Finals.
To say Kyrgios had his work cut out to win his first Grand Slam singles title was an understatement, although remember the Aussie had won a Grand Slam in doubles at his home Open in Melbourne earlier this year, so he knows how to perform in the big matches, which he has also proved in these championships too.
These two have developed a ‘bromance’ off-court too, with both respecting each other’s games, but all that would be put to one side in this final, and something else to note, Kyrgios has never lost a match to Novak, ok they have only met twice back in 2017 when the Aussie won two set contests in Acapulco and Indian Wells, but it’s something to hold onto for the Aussie, right?
Obviously, it’s a different kettle of fish being in a grand slam final and five sets against Novak at Wimbledon though, so the Serb was not surprisingly the favourite heading into this match, but at 2-2 in the first set it was the Aussie who created the first break points of the match, and although Novak saved the first one, he double-faulted on the second one, meaning Kyrgios had the first break of the match.
The Aussie’s serve had been incredible in this opening set, and after both men held their service games Kyrgios served for the set at 5-4, and on his second set point he smashed an ace down the middle and the first set was his, and Novak would have to come from behind for the third match in a row to win and in doing so take the title.
Well, at 2-1 in the second Novak, who had not really made an impression on the Aussie serve as yet, suddenly had three break points, and he duly took the first one and after backing that up with a hold, Novak now had a 4-1 advantage in the second set, which annoyed the Aussie who directed another round of verbals at his support box.
Kyrgios was muttering to himself now, would this setback see him lose his focus perhaps? You were starting to hear the Aussie’s voice more and more now, which was not the case in the first set where he was more relaxed, Novak was turning up the heat now and just like the win over Cameron Norrie in the semi-finals he was now finding his groove, and at 5-3 had the chance to serve for the second set.
It was not a straightforward game, to say the least, Kyrgios had four break points which a clutch Novak saved, and then he managed to take the set on his first set point and level the match up at one set all, and the Aussie, who was now having a full-on argument with his support box, he had been unhappy with them for most of the match, not sure what else they could have done, but the Aussie was unhappy and Novak was now the guy with the momentum heading into the third set.
And he was immediately in trouble in the opening game of the third, having to face two break points, both of which he saved, and he managed to hold eventually for what was potentially a huge hold, and a shout of ‘Let’s Go’ certainly showed how important it was to Kyrgios, although certain members of the crowd were making him unhappy.
A furious Nick ranted at the umpire after holding serve to lead 3-2 in the third saying “There’s no other bigger occasion and they did it again and it nearly cost me the point. “She’s drunk out of her mind so kick her out. “I know exactly who it is – she’s the one who looks like she’s had about 700 drinks.”
This is the other side of Kyrgios some don’t always want to see, his tennis is sublime, but he can sometimes let other things affect him, but you could see his frustrations at this point, although it didn’t seem to bother the unflappable Novak down the other end, who even seemed to have an amused smile on his face, like a parent that is a little bit tired of their child’s antics, perhaps.
But this is Nick isn’t it, absolute box office, and it certainly makes the matches he is involved in unmissable, but his now nonstop chuntering didn’t seem to be bothering his opponent whose support box was regularly rising to their feet and chanting ‘Nole! Nole! Nole!’, and then in the ninth game of the set Novak broke his disgruntled Aussie opponent meaning he would serve for the third set at 5-4.
This cued another explosion of abuse from Kyrgios towards his support box, “Every time! 40-15! 40-love! Why do you stop?! Why?! SAY SOMETHING!” Bet its fun sitting in Kyrgios’ box, but I am sure they are used to it by now, although their man had completely lost it by this point, and you felt at a final of this magnitude it wasn’t really on, and you felt the umpire had to step in and do something for sure. What though is anyone’s guess, you kind of expect this from the Aussie so most just let him get on with it so to speak.
Novak, who was pretty much unmoved by all of these antics as said before, served it out as expected and took two sets to one lead, and decided to leave the court whilst the Aussie continued to fume, who could blame him, but the Serb was now just one set away from a seventh Wimbledon title, and it was hard to see how he would not achieve this now with his opponent seemingly mentally gone.
A tight and rather quieter fourth set followed, and neither serve was broken meaning it went to a tie break, and it was a tie break that Novak prevailed in to take a 21st Grand Slam crown, a remarkable achievement for the Serb, and another game where he had come from behind to win, yes a lot will be made of his opponent’s antics, but he remained focused and professional to take the title, what a player this man is.
Aussie Kyrgios may have let himself down in some people’s eyes, but the guy has played some magnificent tennis over the past two weeks and must be applauded for that, but you feel that he may have beaten himself as well as his opponent did, but this is what the Aussie does, and he is box office as said before, and great to watch at times too.
So, that is it for another edition of Wimbledon, it be a blast and well done to all who won titles here this year, results of the other finals and games played here can be found at https://www.wimbledon.com/en_GB/scores/schedule/index.html