Novak Djokovic season in limbo following seventh Wimbledon triumph

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Wimbledon belonged to Novak Djokovic once again, but the seven-time champion now finds himself relying on political intervention to continue his season.

Djokovic defeated Nick Kyrgios in four sets to make it four titles in a row at the All England Club and 21 slams in total to move him back to within one of Rafael Nadal.

Quite where Djokovic will play next, though, remains to be seen. After a couple of low-key weeks where most players take the chance for a break, the tour picks up again in North America at the end of July with the hard-court swing building up to the US Open beginning on August 29.

But the United States and Canada both still require travellers to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter, meaning Djokovic, who has made it repeatedly clear that he will not take the vaccine, faces another major hole in his schedule.

“Whether or not I’m playing any tournament soon, I’ll definitely be resting for the next couple of weeks because it has been quite an exhausting and demanding period for me the last few months,” he said. “A lot of tennis, which I was very happy about. I got what I wanted here.

“Then I’ll wait hopefully for some good news from USA because I would really love to go there. If that doesn’t happen, then I have to see what the schedule will look like.”

The removal of ranking points from Wimbledon over the barring of Russian and Belarusian players means Djokovic has dropped from three to seven in the standings, while Kyrgios has slipped from 40 to 45.

Djokovic will not be overly concerned about his place in the rankings and may not play much again until the tour returns to Europe in the autumn, with his place at the ATP Tour Finals virtually guaranteed by virtue of his Wimbledon victory.

“To be honest, I doubt that I’ll go and chase points,” he said. “I don’t really feel any pressure or necessity to play a certain schedule.

“I achieved that historic weeks at number one that I worked for all my life. Now that that’s done and dusted, I prioritise slams and big tournaments really and where I want to play, where I feel good.

“Could be Laver Cup (in London in September), Davis Cup is coming as well. I love playing for my country. I’m going to try to be part of that.”

Djokovic spoke after his victory about the emotional toll his deportation from Australia in January took, and the three-year ban on returning to the country that is automatically imposed in such scenarios means he may not be able to play another grand slam until the French Open next spring.

The Serbian’s team have lived through it all with him, and coach Goran Ivanisevic said: “It’s very emotional. If I can say it was a s**t year, a tough year, especially for him, but also for us that were close to him.

“This was a huge thing what happened to him. We all expected from him after a couple of weeks, ‘OK, forget about Australia, let’s go back and practise’. It’s not happening like this. It took a long time.

“For some people, they don’t recover. They will never play tennis. This was a big shock. It was a shock for me, and I was there. I was free. Imagine for him.

Goran Ivanisevic praised Novak Djokovic as
Goran Ivanisevic praised Novak Djokovic as “heroic” (Bob Martin/AELTC Pool)

“Unbelievable how he recovered and how he got through that. It’s really for me heroic because it was not easy to digest all the things and come back to play tennis.”

A huge amount of anticipation surrounded the final match-up, with Kyrgios playing for a slam singles trophy for the first time, but Djokovic handled the occasion exceptionally well, recovering from losing the first set and calmly exploiting his opponent’s moments of weakness.

Ivanisevic said: “You cannot prepare for a match against Nick Kyrgios. Nick Kyrgios is a genius, tennis genius. He doesn’t know what he’s going to play next in the point.

“We just concentrated on what Novak has to do, the things he has to be careful of. When somebody is serving like Nick Kyrgios, for me he is the best server in the game by far. Unbelievable tennis player.

“But also he knew, on this stage, when Nick starts to talk, he’s going to be vulnerable. It happened in the third set when Nick was 40-0 up, 4-4, suddenly Novak broke him and he was talking to his box. You need to take every chance you get because you don’t have too many.”

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