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Wimbledon final prediction: Can Berrettini deny Djokovic more history?

Novak Djokovic and Matteo Berrettini will meet in the Wimbledon men's singles final on Sunday.

Berrettini and Djokovic will meet at Wimbledon on Sunday (Picture: Getty)

History will be made, one way or another, on Sunday in the men’s singles final at Wimbledon.

Matteo Berrettini, a Grand Slam final novice, will bid to become the first player from Italy to win a singles title at the All England Club.

Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1 from Serbia, can equal Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s all-time men’s record of 20 Grand Slam wins.

This is the best-possible match-up of the tournament. Djokovic, 34, is comfortably the best player in the world and has already won the Australian and French Opens this year.

Queen’s champion Berrettini, 25, is unbeaten on grass this summer and has been rarely troubled in any of his 11 wins on British soil.



Most Grand Slam titles (ATP)

20 – Roger Federer
20 – Rafael Nadal
19 – Novak Djokovic
14 – Pete Sampras

Received wisdom will tell you that Djokovic should win this match. He has won 19 Grand Slam titles, is targeting a third consecutive Wimbledon win and a sixth title in total.

The Serb has already experienced 29 other major finals whereas this is Berrettini’s first. In the eight he’s reached since 2018, he has only lost once (to ‘King of Clay’ Nadal at Roland Garros).

Berrettini has also lost both of their previous meetings, including an incredibly one-sided 6-2 6-1 thumping on his debut at the ATP Finals.

But their second meeting, a four-sets win for Djokovic on the clay courts of Paris, can provide some hope.

Djokovic was pushed in that match and was left passionately roaring after finally getting over the line.

It was a surprising outburst considering this was only a quarter-final win – hardly something new for Djokovic – and never a match he looked close to losing, having taken a two-sets lead.

But it was testament to the threat Djokovic was feeling from the other side of the court, as Berrettini grew in confidence and forced a fourth set, which he lost narrowly 7-5. And given he is a far superior player on grass, it perhaps provides some hope that he can go all the way.

He certainly has the weapons to cause an upset. A huge serve and thumping forehand have blown all his opponents away on this surface so far in 2021 and he is capable, should he play to his best, of taking the racquet out of Djokovic’s hands.

Mateo Berrettini of Italy serves against Hubert Hurkacz of Poland in the gentlemen's semi-finals during Day Eleven of The Championships - Wimbledon 2021 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 09, 2021 in London, England.

The Berrettini serve has been a big weapon (Picture: TPN/Getty)

‘For sure I think he [Berrettini] does have a chance,’ said Denis Shapovalov after losing to Djokovic in the semi-finals. ‘I felt like from the back I was outplaying Novak a good portion of the match.

‘I think Matteo is looking super solid from the back from what I have seen today and his match against Felix [Auger-Aliassime]. He’s slicing a lot. It’s going to be uncomfortable for Novak.

‘I think with the serve that he has, if he can manage to sneak out a break here or there, win a couple tiebreaks, I think it’s going to be really tough for Novak to break him. If he’s serving the way he did today, it’s super tough to touch it.

‘Obviously Novak is such a good returner. Still, I mean, it’s too good. So I definitely do think he’s got a chance, for sure. Is it going to be a battle? Yeah, for sure it’s going to be super tough. But there’s always a chance, like I said before my match against Novak, and it’s the same thing with Matteo.’

Shapovalov touched on one of the more impressive features of Berrettini’s game at The Championships.

While the serve and forehand have always been major assets, the backhand side appeared vulnerable.

Now he varies between a wicked one-handed slice that zips just above the net and a solid two-hander, which is making fewer and fewer errors and allowing him more opportunities to get the point on his terms with heavy forehand artillery.

The question is, will it hold up under examination from the greatest prober the game has ever seen? Djokovic will make him play shot after shot, force him into uncomfortable positions.



Berrettini and Djokovic routes to Wimbledon final

Berrettini

R1: 6-4 3-6 6-4 6-0 Pella
R2: 6-3 6-4 7-6 Van de Zandschulp
R3: 6-4 6-4 6-4 Bedene
R4: 6-4 6-3 6-1 Ivashka
QF: 6-3 5-7 7-5 6-3 Auger-Aliassime
SF: 6-3 6-3 6-7 6-4 Hurkacz

Djokovic

R1: 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-2 Draper
R2: 6-3 6-3 6-3 Anderson
R3: 6-4 6-3 7-6 Kudla
R4: 6-2 6-4 6-2 Garin
QF: 6-3 6-4 6-4 Fucsovics
SF: 7-6 7-5 7-5 Shapovalov

While Berrettini will be third in the Race to Turin – the rankings system that calculates points scored in a calendar year alone – regardless of the final result, it should be noted that he only has one top-10 win to his name this season, against an out-of-sorts Dominic Thiem at the ATP Cup.

He has lost all five of his big-three matches, although a 5-2 win-loss record in finals suggests he is not overawed by the sight of a trophy on court.

Still, this one is bigger. And he’s admitted he’s only started daring to dream now.

Berrettini told Italian press after his semi-finals win: ‘I never dreamed of winning Wimbledon until last night.

‘For me a dream is something that can come true. Walking to the moon cannot be a dream, because it will never happen. Winning Wimbledon is now a dream, because I know it can come true.’

Djokovic, meanwhile, is beating every opponent in his sights, regardless of level. He has become a dominant force that feels utterly immovable, with history spurring him on.

‘That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m playing,’ he said of the opportunity to equal Federer and Nadal on Sunday. ‘I imagined myself being in a position to fight for another Grand Slam trophy prior to coming to London. I put myself in a very good position.

‘Anything is possible in the finals. Obviously experience is on my side. But Berrettini has been winning a lot of matches on grass courts this year, winning Queen’s. He’s in great form. He’s serving big, playing big. So it’s going to be a very tough match I think for both of us. But I’m looking forward to a great battle.’

Serbia's Novak Djokovic (R) returns against Canada's Denis Shapovalov during their men's singles semi-final match on the eleventh day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 9, 2021.

Few players in history are capable of probing like Djokovic (Picture: AFP via Getty)

Berrettini shouldn’t be ruled out but it’s hard to go against the man on the other side of the net.

The Golden Slam – where a player wins all four majors and Olympic Gold in the same year – feels almost inevitable and no player – perhaps ever – is managing matches as well as Djokovic is now.

If Berrettini turns up and plays the game of his life, he can win this. He’s one of the few players who could hurt Novak with his extreme power and heavy ball-striking.

But handling the occasion will be key and that’s where one player has a serious advantage over the other.

Prediction: Djokovic in 4

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