Novak Djokovic admits it “means everything” to win a sixth Wimbledon title and 20th Grand Slam equaling Sunday’s record against Italy’s Matteo Berretttini, who has the build of a heavyweight boxer.
Djokovic will move to the same level as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the career majors with victory and also three quarters of the way to the calendar’s first Grand Slam in more than half a century.
The 34-year-old is in his seventh Wimbledon final and 30th at the Grand Slams.
Only Federer, with 31, has appeared in more league games at the majors, but the fading Swiss star is more than five years older.
“It would mean everything. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m playing,” said Djokovic who has already won the ninth Australian Open and the second French Open in 2021.
The win in Paris made him only the third man to win all four majors more than once.
“I imagined being able to fight for another Grand Slam trophy before coming to London.
“I put myself in a very good position. In the final everything is possible. Obviously the experience is on my side.”
Djokovic needed all that experience and the famous iron will to defeat Denis Shapovalov in the semifinals, where he saved 10 out of 11 break points.
Shapovalov was so upset by the failure of his all-out assault that he had pushed Djokovic to the brink that he left center court in tears.
“There are no brakes once you hit the pitch, particularly in the later stages of an event I’ve always dreamed of winning,” said Djokovic after his twentieth consecutive win on the grass pitch.
“The dream continues. I’m trying to get the most out of my skills every single game and see what happens. Giving up is never an option.”
Djokovic can also win an 85th career title on Sunday, while his field earnings exceed $ 150 million.
Berrettini, the 25-year-old number nine in the world, is the first Italian ever to make a singles final at Wimbledon.
The victory will make him the first Italian men’s Slam champion after Adriano Panatta at the 1976 French Open.
He lost both of his previous fights with Djokovic, including the quarter-finals at Roland Garros last month.
But this season he scored 11-0 on grass after winning the Queen’s Club event on the eve of Wimbledon.
At the All England Club, he worked his way to the final with 101 aces leading the tournament.
Berrettini also boasts the second fastest serve so far, 223.7 km / h in his first win over Argentina’s Guido Pella.
Weighing in at 95kg – the same as a heavyweight boxer – Berrettini has also unleashed 254 winners so far against Djokovic’s 190.
However, his unforced error count is 167 compared to the Serbian’s 126.
The two men lost the service only five times each.
Sunday’s final may not be a show of twists and turns – rallies for both players averaged under four hits.
Berrettini, meanwhile, hasn’t served and volley once in his six games.
“It will be a great atmosphere. My first final at Wimbledon, it’s crazy to think about it,” said Berrettini.
A shock victory on Sunday could be the first part of a sporting double for Italy in London with the country’s football team facing England in the Euro 2020 final.
“Obviously for the Italians in general, but Sunday will be tough,” he said.
Berrettini will probably have behind him the majority of the 15,000 fans inside the Center Court.
Djokovic familiarized himself with such scenarios.
“People also like to see someone win who is a loser or who maybe shouldn’t win, he’s not the favorite to win,” admitted Djokovic.
But I hope that people can also recognize the importance of this game for me, the story that is at stake.
“I am prepared for anything that will happen in terms of public support on Sunday.”