Just think about this for a second, it was only two years ago before the 2019 Wimbledon Final between Roger and Novak that the Serbian was still five slams behind the great Swiss, now on Sunday he has a chance to equal him and Rafa Nadal on 20 Grand Slams.
It’s almost unthinkable the level of domination required from Djokovic to even be in this position, especially considering at the end of the 2010 season he had won one Slam, the 2008 Australian Open.
At the time Rafa was on nine majors and Federer had won 15, now here we are and Novak is one match away from finally catching the other two GOAT’s, and he doesn’t even have to play one of them.
Rafa resting his body didn’t even enter Wimbledon and Roger went out in the QF in straight sets, but the Italian Matteo Berrettini is waiting, and he’ll be no pushover. The big hitting 25 year old from Rome is looking to become the first Italian man to win a Slam since Nicola Pietrangeli won his second French Open way back in 1960.
Why Novak will win
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; beating Djokovic in a best of 5 set match is rare, especially when he’s in this kind of form. The scary thing is he hasn’t needed to play his best tennis these two weeks and he’s on a 17-match win streak. He has another gear or two if he needs it plus experience counts in these situations, this will be his 30 Grand Slam final. If Novak is Novak he wins.
Why Berrettini will win
The key for Matteo is the serve, it all starts and ends there. He has got to keep holding serve to get to 5-5 or tiebreaks, when one or two points make all the difference. If he can keep this match close he has the firepower to win, but Novak will turn this into an arm wrestle if the sets are tight, he’s the best retriever in the game but with wise shot selection Berrettini can pull off a huge upset if he keeps his nerve.
The main danger to Novak is himself. Yes, the 6ft 5 Berrettini has talent and power but if the world number one is at the peak of his powers there will be nothing the towering Roman can do, but in the straight set semi against the lefty Shapovalov Djokovic at times relied too much on his defensive skills.
He won’t want to have long stretches where he plays too conservative in the rallies against Berrettini and the crowd will be on the Italian’s side, they love an underdog.
There’s something else on the line here, if Novak wins this final he is still on track for the calendar year Grand Slam, the holy grail of tennis. The last man to win all four slams in the one year was the great Rod Laver way back in 1969; the pressure at the US Open would be enormous.
I’m tipping Djokovic in four tight sets, experience in these finals count for a lot, especially against a first time slam finalist, that should get him over the line.