Novak Djokovic hails ‘big-match player’ Nick Kyrgios as he looks forward to eighth Wimbledon final

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 (AP)
(AP)

Novak Djokovic is relishing a Wimbledon final against Nick Kyrgios after putting an end to British hopes.

The 35-year-old is into an eighth SW19 final after a four-set win over Cameron Norrie in the semi-finals, shaking off a sluggish start to find his top form. He’ll face a fresh Kyrgios, who didn’t need to hit a point on Friday as Rafael Nadal pulled out of the last-four clash due to an abdominal injury.

Djokovic has played Kyrgios twice before and lost on both occasions - he is yet to even win a set against the Australian. The pair have previously had a frosty relationship, with Kyrgios remarking in 2019 that Djokovic would “never be the greatest” if he couldn’t beat him.

Things are more cordial now though and Djokovic is glad to see Kyrgios producing the necessary consistency to reach a first Grand Slam final.

“He’s a big-match player - if you see his career, the best tennis he’s played is always against the top guys,” Djokovic said.

“That’s why we all respect him, because we know what he can come up with. It’s going to be interesting match.”

He added: “These are the occasions where he loves, where he thrives, in a big stage. So in a way it’s also not surprise for me that he’s there. Honestly, as a tennis fan, I’m glad that he’s in the finals because he’s got so much talent.

“Everyone was praising him when he came on the tour, expecting great things from him. Of course, then we know what was happening throughout many years with him mentally, emotionally.

“For the quality player that he is, this is where he needs to be, and he deserves to be.”

Victory on Sunday will move Djokovic to 21 Grand Slam titles, one ahead of Roger Federer and one behind Rafael Nadal’s record.

With his unvaccinated status putting into doubt his participation at the US Open later this summer and once again the Australian Open at the start of 2023, pressure is growing on Djokovic to get the most out of the tournaments he can compete in as opportunities to add to his major tally become increasingly limited.

“I’m aware of what’s on the line. I mean, every match, every Grand Slam that I get to play at this stage of my career, there is a lot on the line,” Djokovic said.

“I don’t know how many Grand Slam opportunities to win the trophy I will still have, as I will have in few days’ time. So, of course, I’m approaching it with positive attitude and self-belief and willingness to win. There’s no doubt about it.”

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