The rise of Ash Barty to become a double grand slam champion has been "phenomenal", with her mental strength key to that major glory.

That is the opinion of former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, who watched with delight as Barty triumphed in the 2021 tournament at the All England Club with a three-set win over Karolina Pliskova in the final.

Barty sealed victory at Wimbledon just a month after withdrawing from the French Open with injury, becoming the first Australian woman to win the title since her idol Evonne Goolagong in 1980.

Cash and Lleyton Hewitt are the only Australians to have won the crown in the intervening period.

The 1987 winner Cash feels Barty – who won her first major at Roland Garros in 2019 – has the perfect blend of talent and fight which led to the country's latest success.

"I've got to know Ash and her team pretty well over the years," Cash told Stats Perform.

"I was coaching [CoCo Vandeweghe] who partnered with Ash to win her first grand slam title [in the doubles] at the US Open in 2016, so we did spend a lot of time together. 

"I saw her improving all the time, but for her to take this extra step in the last couple of years, it's been quite phenomenal. 

"The improvement in her game, her confidence and obviously [her play] under pressure, which is where it all matters, it's been exceptional. 

"Nothing's always perfect, of course, but she worked her way through the tournament after starting off in pretty average form – I think she would admit that herself.

"And she ended up playing fantastically well in the last two matches when it really counts."

Barty is calm, serious and focused – traits Cash thinks show up when she reaches pressure points in her matches.

"There's always moments if you're going to be a tennis player you’ve got to be prepared for really sticky, tricky moments if you're going to be one of the best players in the world," added Cash.

"They come up every set, every match you play out there. They're sticky moments and even on the practice courts when you're doing practice matches.

"But she is a great competitor. She's been a good Junior, been a Junior Wimbledon champion.

"She gives a lot of credit to her team, and I would too, but she's got she got to do the hard work out there and deal with the pressure and, and she did exceptionally well considering it all.

"In many ways, she just she is a quiet person and very happy to rest up and do her own thing, but she is incredibly well spoken now - very endearing where everybody loves her and loves her personality."

Cash felt world number one Barty achieved Wimbledon success at a time when it is more difficult than ever to come through a tough spell, battling injuries and struggling for match practice amid coronavirus restrictions.

"Injuries are always a concern for any player on tour," he said. "The tour is pretty relentless, especially these days where there's no real opportunity to have time off.

"You're sort of in bubbles, you can't go out and have a rest and get to a restaurant or have a few days away from the tour. 

"You're constantly going from one bubble to the next bubble and seeing the same people and they're your opponents! So it's not easy – there [are challenges for players with] mental wellbeing and physical issues and of course it is a highly competitive sport.

"So she's negotiated that quite well since these niggling injuries that happened.

"I think the French Open obviously was a bigger concern with the leg. She didn't play any pre-Wimbledon events and therefore, the first couple of rounds are always dangerous. 

"But she negotiated those quite well and bit by bit by bit built on her form. And by the end, she was moving incredibly well, getting around the court. 

"That was the real difference between the two players in the finals, that Ash was just a better mover on the grass courts."

A golden age deserves a Golden Slam, and who would bet against Novak Djokovic achieving that now?

This extraordinary Serbian has chased down Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the grand slam race, joining them on 20 majors as he became the first $150million man in tennis.

When he raced up to the players' box and butted heads out of joy with Goran Ivanisevic, his coach, Djokovic was living out another magnificent moment in a career jammed with them.

This is now three successive Wimbledon titles and six in all at the All England Club for Djokovic.

More than that though, he is the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the first three grand slams of a season, and the Olympic Games and US Open are still to come.

Steffi Graf is the only player in tennis history to have won all four majors and an Olympic gold in the same year, the great German doing so in 1988. Graf could soon have company in the record books, because Djokovic looks unstoppable.

When Matteo Berrettini snatched the opening set here on a tie-break, there were omens that said it would be the Italian's day. The grand slam final newcomer had a 22-0 winning record from the times when he previously won the first set in grass-court matches.

Djokovic had other ideas.

The 34-year-old is a case study in triumphant self-improvement, forever seeking ways to bolster his chances of winning, whether it be veganism, meditation or relentless hard yakka on the training court.

He wound up many with his views on vaccinations, and triggered others, including Federer, Nadal and Andy Murray, last August by fronting a new Professional Tennis Players Association at a time when the sport's existing off-court leaders were battling to cope amid the pandemic.

And he will never be as loved on Centre Court as Federer, Nadal and Murray, those other members of the Big Four. It's something he is coming to terms with.

"He means well but sometimes he doesn't come across," said Boris Becker on the BBC.

But what Djokovic does on court remains wondrous and his achievements are reaching new heights.

In grand slam terms, it is now a three-man crowd on 20 titles. Tennis can throw up surprises, but Djokovic is a firm favourite to break away and finish alone on top of the pile.

"It means none of us will stop, that's what it means," Djokovic said, as he reflected on matching his great rivals. "They're legends of our sport and they are the two most important players that I ever faced in my career. They are the reason where I am today.

"They helped me realise what I need to do to get stronger mentally, physically and tactically."

Federer could yet decide the time has come to quit, perhaps even before the US Open comes around, while Nadal, when he returns from his mid-season hiatus, may rise to the challenge in New York.

Yet Djokovic made his intentions quite clear when asked about the prospect of sealing a clean sweep of 2021's biggest titles at Flushing Meadows.

"I could defijnitely envision that happening," he said. "I'm hoping I'm going to give it a shot. "I'm in great form, I'm obviously playing well, and playing my best tennis at grand slams is the highest priority I have at this stage of my career, so let's keep it going."

Twenty years ago, wild card Ivanisevic won this title behind some of the greatest serving ever witnessed.

Against Berrettini and throughout Wimbledon, Djokovic demonstrated how much that shot has become such a vital play for him too.

Djokovic came into this title match with the best percentage record of first-serve points won in the tournament (85 per cent). Berrettini had served the most aces, but Djokovic sat a healthy third on that list too.

Like Cristiano Ronaldo in football, Djokovic has found new ways to prolong his stay at the top of his profession, and Ivanisevic has had a big part to play in that over the past two years.

Djokovic had 209 aces from 30 matches this year before launching into his Wimbledon mission, and he has added 68 in seven matches over this fortnight.

That represents a big step-up from where he was five years ago, when in a year that saw him win the Australian and French Opens and reach the US Open final he served a modest 276 aces in 72 matches. He has gone from serving close to four aces a match to seven. And while he will never launches aces in the manner of an Ivanisevic, he is still finding ways to develop his game.

Ronaldo has become increasingly a penalty area predator rather than a player who causes chaos across the football pitch. From the 2008-09 season to the 2013-14 campaign, Ronaldo scored at least eight goals per season from outside the 18-yard box, but over the past four seasons the most he has managed has been three.

Where once many of his goals came from fast breaks out of defence, now those are collectors' items.

The greatest find a way to sustain greatness and Djokovic is similarly working on building up the weaponry that allows him to extend his career well into his mid-thirties.

He won 79 per cent of first-serve points against Berrettini, who had a success rate of 76 per cent. And although he was out-aced 16-5 on this occasion, it was Djokovic's consistency that won out.

His athleticism remains astonishing. Trailing 3-2 in the fourth set, Djokovic dashed from the baseline to the net to track down a drop shot that would have beaten most, but he clipped the ball across court for a winner that even had Berrettini smiling.

The game was not yet up, but in essence it was. How do you beat this guy?

Djokovic now owns a 20-10 win-loss record in grand slam finals. Only Federer, who has reached 31 of those matches, has played in more.

Djokovic has won seven of the past eight slam finals he has contested. He has triumphed in six of his seven Wimbledon finals – the exception being his 2013 loss to Murray.

Tokyo awaits now, and then New York.

All that prize-money, all that he has achieved already, and Djokovic remains ravenous for more.

Roger Federer is proud to play in an era of tennis which he labelled as "special" after Novak Djokovic clinched his 20th grand slam title.

Djokovic beat Matteo Berrettini 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4 6-3 at Wimbledon on Sunday to seal his third major trophy of the season.

It is the world number one's sixth title at the All England Club, as he defended the crown he won in an epic final against Federer in 2019.

Djokovic is now level in the record books with Nadal and Federer, with all three of the greats on 20 grand slams each.

The Serbian will look to make that 21 at Flushing Meadows later this year, as he aims to become just the second player in the Open Era to complete a clean sweep of the men's slams in a single year, after Rod Laver in 1969.

In the post-match presentation, Djokovic hailed Nadal and Federer as inspirations, and the latter echoed that sentiment.

"Congrats Novak on your 20th major," Federer, now ranked eighth in the world, tweeted.

"I'm proud to have the opportunity to play in a special era of tennis champions. Wonderful performance, well done!"

Novak Djokovic lauded Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer as inspirations after he claimed his 20th grand slam title at Wimbledon.

Djokovic overcame Matteo Berrettini 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4 6-3 on Sunday to win for the sixth time at the All England Club, matching Nadal and Federer's haul of slam titles in the process.

The world number one dropped just two sets throughout the tournament and will now head to the US Open looking to complete a calendar Grand Slam.

Asked what it meant to draw level with his two great rivals, Djokovic said: "It means none of us three will stop, that's what it means.

"I have to pay a great tribute to Rafa and Roger, they are legends of our sport, they are the two most important players I ever faced in my career. They are the reason that I'm where I am today, they've helped me realise what I need to do to get stronger mentally, physically, tactically.

"When I broke into the top 10 for the first time I lost for two, three years all of the big matches I played against these guys. Something shifted in 2010, the beginning of 2011 and the last 10 years has been an incredible journey that is not stopping here."

Djokovic, 34, will go to New York looking to overtake his rivals and create history as he looks to become only the second man to win the four majors in the same year.

"I could definitely envisage that happening. I'm hoping, I'm going to definitely give it a shot," he said.

"I'm in great form. Playing my best tennis at grand slams is my highest priority at this stage of my career. Let's keep it going."

Djokovic beat Federer in an all-time classic Wimbledon showdown in 2019, though did not quite find his best form against slam final debutant Berrettini.

"It was more than a battle, I would like to extend congratulations to Matteo," he said.

"I know it's not the best feeling losing in a final. I'm sure there's a great career ahead, I truly believe that. He's got an incredible game, very powerful - true Italian hammer! 

"Winning Wimbledon was always the biggest dream of mine as a kid, I've told this story many times but I have to repeat it to remind myself how special this is and not take it for granted. On the contrary, to enjoy and be aware that this is a huge honour and privilege.

"A seven-year-old boy in Serbia, constructing a Wimbledon trophy from materials I could find and today finding with a sixth Wimbledon [title] it's incredible, amazing."

Berrettini took a front-foot approach and struck an impressive 57 winners, but ultimately his unforced error count of 48-27 to Djokovic's tally – proved costly. Indeed, the Italian lost the match when he sent a weak backhand into the net.

"Unbelievable feelings, maybe too many to handle," Berrettini said.

"For sure he was better than me, he is a great champion. Well done Novak, once again, he is writing the history of this sport so he deserves all the credit.

"I'm really happy for my final, hopefully it's not going to be my last one here, my last one in a grand slam."

Novak Djokovic drew level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 grand slam titles after battling back to beat Matteo Berrettini and defend his Wimbledon crown.

Sunday's final was the first since 2019, when Djokovic had to be at his best to edge Federer in one of the All England Club's great matches.

The top seed scarcely came close to that same standard against Berrettini, nor did he need to despite falling behind in a first-set tiebreak, allowing his opponent – a major final debutant – to defeat himself at times.

A 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4 6-3 success earned Djokovic parity with Federer and Nadal, and he may well be out on his own as he shows few signs of slowing while his ageing rivals each manage their schedules.

Even in command of the one set he dropped, Djokovic survived a sloppy start to break at the second attempt as his opponent skewed a forehand into the sidelines and piled on the pressure again in a long eighth game.

But he faltered when serving for the set, with Berrettini's chipped forehand pass restoring parity, which was then protected with a roar to reach a tiebreak.

The pair traded mini-breaks before Berrettini seized the initiative, stepping forward for a superb forehand winner and serving out the set with a blistering ace.

Djokovic promptly claimed control of the second, though, alert at close range to break a first time and two up when Berrettini bowed to the third chance in the third game, firing into the net.

Berrettini did not give up the chase, following an outrageous tweener lob for 5-2 with a break back after Djokovic's slip and then a further frantic hold.

However, the world number one this time successfully served out the set to love and once more made swift progress in the third, holding his nerve in a backhand rally until Berrettini clipped the net.

Djokovic saved a pair of break points at 3-2 and kept Berrettini at arm's length thereafter to see out the set.

Berrettini took the fight to the favourite in the fourth but merely succeeded in provoking his best play of the match, a staggering point in which the breathless Djokovic held firm setting the stage for a break in the next game – decided by a double fault.

With the end in sight, rather than face the challenge of serving for game, set, match and championship, Djokovic went on the offensive again and Berrettini could not cling on, slicing into the net at the last.

Data Slam: Berrettini brave but beaten

Berrettini's aggressive approach meant this match was always likely to be decided on his racket. His 16 aces improved a tournament-high tally to 117 and fittingly included the decisive point in the first set. There were also 57 Berrettini winners, including three from approach shots in that opener. But the 48 unforced errors to the risk-averse Djokovic's 21 took the contest away from the Italian.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 31/21
Berrettini – 57/48

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 5/4
Berrettini – 16/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 6/15
Berrettini – 2/7

Novak Djokovic is wary of the threat "red hot" Wimbledon final rival Matteo Berrettini poses to his Golden Slam ambitions.

Chasing a sixth title at the All England Club, and bidding to become the fourth man in the Open Era to record a hat-trick of successive Wimbledon triumphs, Djokovic could hardly be set to face a tougher opponent.

Berrettini won the Queen's Club title on grass in June and has made good on many experts' prediction that he would be the player to come through the bottom half of the SW19 draw.

Should the 25-year-old Italian carry off the title, he would become his country's first singles champion at Wimbledon.

And although Djokovic starts as a heavy favourite, looking to join Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 grand slams, it is not so preposterous to think there could be an upset.

Berrettini leads the way in aces with 101 for the tournament, which puts him 38 ahead of Djokovic in third place on the list.

He has also been the second fastest server, sending down a delivery of 139mph. Djokovic sits top in terms of points won on first serve, his 85 per cent success record putting him a shade ahead of Berrettini, fifth with a very healthy 82 per cent.

There have been suspicions in the past that Berrettini had a limited game in terms of its dimensions, but he has put paid to that talk in recent times, showing admirable variation, which together with the confidence that is soaring makes him a genuine threat to the world number one.

 

Djokovic has not lost at Wimbledon against a fellow top-10 player since his defeat to Andy Murray in the 2013 final, and if he is seeking positive omens ahead of Sunday's Centre Court showdown that is certainly one, as is the fact he beat world number nine Berrettini in four sets in their French Open quarter-final in early June.

The 34-year-old from Belgrade is aiming to complete the third leg of a staggering bid to win all four majors and the Olympic Games singles title. The Golden Slam is a feat only ever previously achieved by Steffi Graf in 1988.

But Djokovic senses danger when he looks at Berrettini, more so than when they met on clay in Paris.

He pointed out: "Obviously grass favours him even more, favours his game. If he serves big, as he did throughout the entire tournament, it's tough to break his serve, it's tough to go into the rhythm, to find a good positioning to return, make him play.

"But I believe in my return. I think return has served me very well throughout my career. Hopefully I'll be able to get a lot of those serves back and wait for my chances."

Djokovic added: "It's really anybody's game. He's arguably the guy who has been in the best form on grass courts this year, winning Queen's. He's red hot. It's going to be a great battle."

It would be a sixth Wimbledon title for Djokovic should he claw his way past Berrettini, who is seeking a first grand slam title.

In the Open Era, only Pete Sampras, Bjorn Borg and Roger Federer have won three or more successive Wimbledon titles among the men, while Djokovic, in this potentially historic year of his, is bidding to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win each of the first three slams in a season.

Berrettini's career record does not come near to competing with that of the player who will stand on the opposite side of the net. On Sunday the Rome-born player will target a sixth tour title, and a third on grass.

Yet coming from Queen's Club, he was being told that a major opportunity awaited him at Wimbledon.

"I knew I could do it, but I didn't think I am going to do it because this is how I am," Berrettini said.

"I took every step really careful and slowly. I guess it was the right thing to do. Obviously the job is not done yet. I want to get the trophy now that I'm here."

The wobbles of Wimbledon struck Karolina Pliskova and Ash Barty in a women's final that delivered devilish drama and a marvellously charismatic new champion.

Barty's big moment at the All England Club has finally arrived, the world number one making good on the aim she publicly set herself by landing the second grand slam of a career that could yield many more.

As she joyfully paraded the Venus Rosewater Dish around Centre Court, it hardly mattered that the 25-year-old had staggered across the winning line.

When she raced up to the players' box to hug coach Craig Tyzzer and boyfriend Garry Kissick, they were not asking why she had not got the job done in straight sets.

When Barty's thoughts turned to her hero Evonne Goolagong, and tears began to flow, all that mattered to the Queenslander was that she had achieved her tennis destiny.

But what a curious contest this was, a first women's Wimbledon singles final to go to a third set since 2012, yet it would take a real optimist – Barty, for instance – to define it as a classic.

At least it was a contest. That had been in doubt when Pliskova lost the opening 14 points. It was 4-0 in just 12 minutes, at which stage memories of the Czech's 6-0 6-0 drubbing by Iga Swiatek in May's Rome final came to mind.

Pliskova did not fire a single winner in the first six games. Barty surged a set and 3-1 ahead in 45 minutes, a 13th straight-sets women's final in the last 14 Wimbledon championships seemingly inevitable.

The pre-match favourite's nerve was holding, or so it seemed, but when Pliskova held serve to trail only 3-2 the players had split the last 10 games, and that suggested a pivot in the flow of the contest was still possible.

Rudyard Kipling's encouragement to keep your head while others might be losing theirs is engrained in Wimbledon tradition, yet doing so on the big stage is easier prescribed than achieved.

This title match was painfully short on consistent quality, with more unforced errors than winners overall (Barty: 30/29, Pliskova: 27/32) as the pressure of the occasion affected the two first-time finalists. Movie star Tom Cruise was in the crowd, and a plot twist was coming.

A chant of "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie" went up at 5-5 in the second set, and Pliskova went on to drop serve from 40-love, missing a straightforward enough backhand volley at the net when she had the chance to close out the game.

Serving for the title, Barty played her worst tennis of the match, and when Pliskova powered through the tie-break those still awake Down Under must have been suddenly fearing the worst.

Serving first in the third set, Barty took a look down the other end and must have been thinking: "What are you still doing here?"

But Barty swiftly established a break, Pliskova volleying lamentably into the net from close range, and this time the Aussie nerve held.

She fired an ace to bring up a first match point and the title was hers when Pliskova drove a backhand into the net, her 32nd unforced error of the match.

Having held serve in 57 of her 61 service games up to the final, Pliskova was broken six times.

Barty won the girls' Wimbledon tournament in 2011 and 10 years later has achieved a rare double by adding the women's title, joining Ann Jones, Martina Hingis and Amelie Mauresmo as the only players to do so in the Open Era.

She has joined Margaret Court and Goolagong in becoming a women's champion for Australia at the All England Club, and Barty holds the latter in the highest regard.

They share an indigenous background, and 50 years after Goolagong landed the first of her two Wimbledon titles, Barty did just enough to fend off Pliskova and add her own name to the board of champions.

Barty called it "an exceptional match right from the start", and that verdict can probably be put down to the adrenaline of being a newly crowned champion.

She also spoke of having managed precious little sleep ahead of the match, which might explain some of the erratic side of her performance.

And then the BBC's Sue Barker asked her about Goolagong.

"I hope I made Evonne proud," Barty said, the first tears beginning to stream.

Barty has left home to pursue this dream, having chosen to spend almost all of 2020 back in Greater Springfield, near Brisbane, away from the world's worst COVID-19 crises.

Her family have remained in Australia, and Barty has made the trip worth it with this triumph.

"I know they're at home watching. I miss them, I love them," Barty said. "I can't wait to get home to them in a few months' time and really celebrate."

She suggested celebrations in her bubble would be "low key". The Barty party will have to wait.

An emotional Ash Barty said she hoped she had done Evonne Goolagong Cawley after realising her dream of winning Wimbledon with a battling defeat of Karolina Pliskova.

The world number one became the first Australian woman to be crowned champion at the All England Club since her mentor Goolagong Cawley 41 years ago with a 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 victory.

Barty won the opening 14 points of the match as she handled the nerves better than eighth seed Pliskova on Saturday.

Pliskova fought back from a break down twice to win the second set, but the top seed regrouped to claim a second grand slam title two years after her first at the French Open.

The Queensland native is only the fourth junior Wimbledon champion to go on and win the women's title and her triumph came 50 years after Goolagong Cawley's maiden success at SW19.

An emotional Barty said in her on-court interview: "This is incredible. I have to start with Kaja [Pliskova]. Congratulations on an incredible tournament to you and your team. I love testing myself against you and I'm sure we'll have many many matches.

"I want to thank everyone in this stadium. You've made my dream so special, thank you very much.

"My team is incredible and they've been with me every step of the way, and for them to be able to travel with me and essentially be away from home for eight or nine months.

"Craig [her coach Tyzzer] is our captain. He is exceptional at what he does and I love him to death.

"It took me a long time to verbalise, to dare to dream it and say it. I didn't sleep a lot last night, I was thinking of all the what-ifs. I hope I made Evonne proud."

It was a second defeat in a major final for former world number one Pliskova, who was also beaten in the 2016 US Open championship match.

World number one Ash Barty became the first Australian woman to win Wimbledon for 41 years by beating Karolina Pliskova in a tense battle on Centre Court.

The top seed realised her dream of being crowned champion at the All England Club for the first time in a rollercoaster 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 victory.

Pliskova warmed to the task after making a nightmare start in a clash between two first-time finalists at SW19, but Barty was not to be denied her second grand slam title two years after her first at the French Open.

The Queenslander ended a wait for an Australian woman to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish that stretched back to 1980, when her mentor Evonne Goolagong Cawley won the title.

Pliskova fought back from a break down twice to win the second set, yet Barty regrouped to become only the fourth junior Wimbledon champion to go on and win the women's title.

Barty began with a commanding hold and followed that up with a break to love, sealed with a backhand winner down the line following a sumptuous lob.

A second Barty ace put her 3-0 up and although Pliskova finally won a first point at the 15th attempt, a tentative double fault left the favourite only two games away from wrapping up the first set.

Pliskova was finally on the board at 4-1 when the favourite was broken in an error-strewn game, but the Czech's usually venomous serve was not firing and Barty served out the set at the second attempt.

The 2016 US Open runner-up continued to look uncertain, with Barty taking advantage to go a break up at 2-1, but Pliskova hit back impressively, unleashing a thunderous forehand winner down the line and sealing a swift break back when Barty netted a forehand.

There was a raise of the left hand from Pliskova following a scorching backhand winner during a comfortable hold and although a poor backhand left her 6-5 down, Barty was unable to serve out the match.

Pliskova played with an increasing level of freedom, demonstrating her incredible power with deep, fearsome groundstrokes in a tie-break that ended with a double fault from Barty. 

The former world number one gifted the momentum back to Barty when she missed a simple volley at the net to trail 2-0 in the decider.

Pliskova showed flashes of brilliance as she made Barty, who withdrew from the French Open last month with a hip injury, work until the end, but served it out, sealing victory when her opponent netted a backhand.

Denis Shapovalov felt he had the game to win Wimbledon this week as he explained why his emotions spilled over after suffering a disappointing semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic.

The Canadian had tears in his eyes as he walked off Centre Court on Friday, beaten in straight sets as his opponent booked a place in the final against Matteo Berrettini.

Shapovalov was rightly proud to have reached the last four of a grand slam for the first time in his young career and feels he will benefit from the experience.

But he was left to rue failing to even take a set against Djokovic, who will now seek a 20th grand slam title on Sunday.

Shapovalov was two points away from winning the first set and converted only one of 11 break-point opportunities in a match that lasted just short of three hours.

He ultimately went down to a 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 7-5 defeat in a competitive contest and was upset by the outcome.

"It hurts a lot," explained the 22-year-old, who had only won one match in his three previous Wimbledon appearances.

"What hurt so much this time was just that I felt like the game is there and it's possible to go and play for the trophy.

"It's a feeling I've never had before, so that's why it just hurt so much. 

"I felt like I was outplaying Novak in parts of the match. If you're outplaying Novak, you can beat anyone." 

 

Elaborating on his visible disappointment on court, he added: "It just hurt a lot - it's been a lot of pressure, a lot of mental fatigue. 

"Like, it all kind of spilled out on the court before I could control myself.

"It's almost good to have a little bit of a taste, because it just makes me want it that much more going into the next slams and into the future.

"Now I know exactly what I'm capable of and where my game can be at. 

"Also the things that I can improve, too, to beat Novak next time or go one step further. A lot of positives. This has made me more hungry to try to win a trophy.

"It's a level I've never played before. The confidence and everything, the way I carried myself these two weeks, it's been different. I don't consider myself the same player."

The victorious Djokovic comforted Shapovalov in the locker room area after the match.

Shapovalov said: "He just told me he knows how difficult it is for me right now.

"He told me that everything will come. For me, it's big coming from someone like him. He doesn't have to do this. It just shows the type of person he is. 

"It's just really nice for someone like me to hear from him. I have tremendous respect for him. He's definitely for sure one of the greatest players of all time. 

"It's awesome to hear those words from him."

Novak Djokovic expects Matteo Berrettini to be at his best when he meets the Italian in the Wimbledon final on Sunday.

Djokovic is a win from moving level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal by claiming a record 20th grand slam title.

Standing in his way will be the considerable figure of Berrettini, who overcame Hubert Hurkacz in four sets to reach the final of a major for the first time in his career at the age of 25.

Djokovic was made to work hard to see off Denis Shapovalov in straight sets on Centre Court on Friday.

And he is anticipating another tough battle against one of the form players on tour this year.

Recalling his own maiden appearance in a grand slam final, a defeat to Roger Federer at the 2007 US Open, Djokovic said: "I remember that I was just so thrilled to be in the final.

"I had a good match but I just probably did not believe enough in the victory at certain moments when the scoreline was close.

"I was really young, 20 years old. Matteo is a bit older. He's had more experience playing on the Tour.

"He's already had notable results in the biggest tournaments and some big wins against the top players of the world.

"I expect him to be on really high level because that's what he's been delivering in last couple weeks. He's in great form, serving big and playing big.

"To win a 20th grand slam would mean everything. That's why I'm here, and why I'm playing.

"I imagined myself being in a position to fight for another Grand Slam trophy prior to coming to London.

"I've put myself in a very good position and I'm looking forward to a great battle."

Wimbledon will mark Berrettini's fourth final of the 2021 season, with his recent victory at Queen's Club securing his second title of the year.

Djokovic was the last man to beat Berrettini, who is now 32-6 for the year, doing so in four sets in the French Open quarter-finals.

Yet Djokovic completed that victory after fans had been forced to leave because of a curfew in Paris and he knows a capacity Wimbledon crowd may not be on his side.

"I hope that I will have the stadium on my side. Having the crowd behind you, against you, it's a big difference," he added. 

"People like to see someone win who is an underdog or is not maybe expected to win, is not the favourite. But hopefully people can also recognise also the importance of this match for me, the history that is on the line."

Ash Barty will lean on the tough lessons that Wimbledon has taught her over the years when she tackles Karolina Pliskova on Centre Court in the women's final.

A decade has slipped by since a 15-year-old Barty won the girls' singles title, and now she and Pliskova will do battle for the Venus Rosewater Dish.

Saturday's final is a clash of the player with the most aces on the women's tour this year (Barty: 255) and the tournament leader for that metric (Pliskova: 54).

Pliskova will likely be a tough nut to crack, having won 57 of her 61 service games for a 93 per cent strike rate, with the Czech the only player in the draw above 90 per cent in that crucial component.

Both players will be making their debut in a Wimbledon women's singles final, the first time that has happened at the All England Club since 1977, when Virginia Wade beat Betty Stove.

 

World number one Barty will become just the fourth player in the Open Era to win both girls' and women's singles titles at Wimbledon should she get the job done, after Ann Jones, Martina Hingis and Amelie Mauresmo.

It has been quite a journey to this point for the Australian, who after her early impact in the game stepped away from tennis for almost two years after the 2014 US Open. She played Big Bash League cricket and only returned to tennis at Eastbourne in 2016, gradually ascending to the summit and winning the 2019 French Open title for a maiden senior grand slam.

There have been painful defeats along the way on grass, her favourite surface, including a loss to Daria Kasatkina in the third round in 2018 and to Alison Riske from a set up in the fourth round a year later.

Barty was the top seed at that edition of Wimbledon in 2019, as she is this year, and there is no doubt she would be an exciting champion, a player who seems to only bring positivity to tennis, albeit she pointed to some bleak moments in her past ahead of the tussle with Pliskova.

"I think Wimbledon for me has been an amazing place of learning," Barty said. "I think 10 years ago I came here for the first time as a junior and learned a lot in that week.

"Probably 2018, 2019 was some of my toughest weeks playing. To come away with our losses in those two tournaments, I learned a hell of a lot from those two times.

"I think a lot of the time your greatest growth comes from your darkest times. I think that's why this tournament has been so important to me. I've learned so much with all my experiences, the good, bad, everything in between I've been able to learn from.

"Just to be able to keep chipping away, keep putting yourself out there, let yourself be vulnerable, just be yourself, knowing that everything that comes with that is an opportunity to learn. I think that's been a massive one for us this fortnight."

The first thing that was said to Barty in a news conference after she won the girls' title in 2011 was: "You're not a very demonstrative winner."

How this grounded Queenslander might react to winning on Saturday remains to be seen. Pliskova certainly has the weaponry to mean a Barty victory is far from a foregone conclusion.

Pliskova would be the fifth oldest first-time grand slam winner in the Open Era should she prevail, with the 29-year-old having previous experience of winning titles on grass at Eastbourne (2017 and 2019) and Nottingham (2016).

"It's a final. Anything can happen," Pliskova said of the Barty match-up. "I know she has a grand slam, but also for her it is the first Wimbledon final.

"I think we both have good chances. It's going to be hopefully a good match to watch as well because with her it's always interesting. We going to see what's going to happen.

"I never played a horrible match against her."

 

Pliskova and Barty have met seven times across their careers, starting from a minor ITF event in Nottingham in 2012, which went the Australian's way, the then 16-year-old edging a final-set tie-break.

Barty has also won their last three matches, reflecting her rise to the top and former world number one's Pliskova's slight career dip.

"Of course she makes you feel a bit ugly with the game which she's playing," Pliskova said. "Also I had, like, a lot of chances the last match we played. I think I had match point or was serving for the match. I know there's going to be many chances for me, as well."

That match took place in Stuttgart in April of this year and did indeed go close, Barty closing it out 7-5 in the deciding set of the quarter-final and going on to take the title. She has three tournament wins this year, a tour-high.

Barty is sure to stay at number one on Monday, a 77th consecutive week in the top spot and 84th overall in her career, while Pliskova can jump from 13th to fourth with the title. She will move to seventh should she be runner-up.

The red-hot favourite is Barty, but Pliskova is comfortable with that.

"You want to play the best player in the final," she said. "Of course, I don't want anybody else but her there."

Novak Djokovic booked his place in a third consecutive Wimbledon final, demonstrating his mastery of the big moments in a 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 7-5 win over Denis Shapovalov.

Number 10 seed Shapovalov produced tennis to delight the Centre Court crowd, with his single-handed backhand typically wonderful, but also threw in errors ill-suited to the task of trying to dethrone a world number one chasing history.

Djokovic will face Matteo Berrettini in Sunday's final after the Italian dispatched Hubert Hurkacz in four, giving him the chance to go level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 career grand slams.

Left-hander Shapovalov made the early running and raced into a 15-40 lead in the third game. He passed up two openings but, after a Djokovic double fault at deuce, he pushed the defending champion back with punishing ground strokes to surge ahead - the only one of 11 break points Djokovic would fail to repel.

The Canadian then strung together three consecutive love service games, only for errors to creep in when the set beckoned at 5-4.  After recovering from 0-30 and an overhit forehand to hand Djokovic a first break point, he went long from the other wing and it was all square.

A wretched tie-break for Shapovalov was bookended by a misjudged drop shot – the first of two initial mini-breaks – and a double fault, handing Djokovic a gift he could scarcely afford.

The 22-year-old left the court and impressively relocated his early form on his return, pushing Djokovic to save three break points in the fourth game and whipping up a crowd keen to see a contest.

Two more followed as the Serb escaped to 3-3, meaning there was a sense of nagging inevitability when, on Djokovic's first break point of set two, Shapovalov produced another appallingly timed double fault.

Djokovic closed out the two-set lead before saving three break points in his first service game of the third, reprising the other theme of frustration for Shapovalov.

From then on, it was a case of gamely scrambling to stay in the contest, with Djokovic's gaze fixed on the finish line. At 5-5, Shapovalov undermined himself with two more doubles and, despite battling to deuce, crunched a groundstroke long.

The all-time great on the other side of the net let out a guttural roar before sealing his toughest win of the tournament in straight sets.

Matteo Berrettini set up the possibility of a remarkable London double for Italy on Sunday after scorching through to the Wimbledon men's final.

The Queen's Club champion delivered a stunning Centre Court display to demolish Hubert Hurkacz 6-3 6-0 6-7 (3-7) 6-4, becoming his country's first Wimbledon singles finalist and firing 22 aces to reach 101 for the tournament.

And what a weekend it could now be for the Italians. Berrettini will have a Sunday afternoon shot at glory in south-west London, before attention turns to Wembley where Roberto Mancini's Azzurri face England in the Euro 2020 final.

This semi-final clash of two men who each stand a towering 6ft 5in tilted in Berrettini's favour early, as he won 11 games in a row from 3-2 behind in the opening set, establishing a firm grip. The man in the backwards baseball cap was simply mauling the Pole, who wore his forwards.

It left opponent Hurkacz, who perhaps ended Roger Federer's Wimbledon career with his quarter-final victory over the eight-time champion, scrabbling around for answers to where it was all going wrong.

Berrettini suffered a clinical drubbing by Federer on this court two years ago, winning only five games, but the 25-year-old has progressed since then.

 

It was the most delicate of drop shots that clinched the opening game of the second set, and a drop shot decided the next game too – a poor one from Hurkacz that found the net as he was broken to love. Berrettini was soon two sets up in just 58 minutes.

Rafael Nadal beat Berrettini in the Italian's only previous grand slam semi-final, at the 2019 US Open, and nerves began to show in the third set as Hurkacz came back strongly, taking it on a tie-break.

But an immediate break in the fourth, Hurkacz netting a forehand up the line, was the cue for a yell of "Come on!" from the Italian.

He stayed in front and at 5-3 had a first match point after blazing a forehand winner into the right corner. Hurkacz saved that but not a second in the next game, his service return flying long.

Berrettini said: "I need a couple of hours to understand what happened. I know I played a great match. I think I never dreamed about this because it was too much for a dream. I'm so happy and I think that's it."

Data Slam: Hubert goes down but set for rankings boost

Hurkacz was bidding to extend a four-match winning streak against top-10 players, having previously got the better of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev in Miami, and Daniil Medvedev and Federer at Wimbledon. Consolation for him is the knowledge he will climb to a career-high of number 11 in the ATP rankings on Monday.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Berrettini – 60/18
Hurkacz – 27/26

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Berrettini – 22/1
Hurkacz – 5/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Berrettini – 6/10
Hurkacz – 0/2

Roger Federer and Serena Williams have probably played their last Wimbledon matches, according to American great Pam Shriver.

Both came to the All England Club this year with hopes of landing another grand slam title, which for Federer would have been a ninth at Wimbledon and Serena an eighth on the famous grass courts.

However, they were met with disappointment, Williams "heartbroken" at having to retire from her first-round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich due to an ankle injury.

Federer was thrashed 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-0 by Hubert Hurkacz in the men's quarter-finals and gave no assurances after the match that he would be back in 2022, or that he would play the Tokyo Olympics.

Both turn 40 later this year, Federer on August 8 and Williams on September 26, and their time at the top of tennis may now be over.

Shriver, a five-time doubles champion at Wimbledon who won 22 grand slams in all, was asked on The Tennis Podcast whether she expected Federer to play Wimbledon again.

"I thought so, before the tournament. I didn't think he would end Wimbledon without his family here," Shriver said.

"But after seeing him in the quarters and listening to his press conference, I think it's less than 50-50. I think we may have seen the last of him."

Due to restricted bubbles put in place because of COVID-19 issues, Federer has been unable to have wife Mirka and their four children with him in London.

Federer has won 20 grand slam singles titles, a record for the men's game that he shares with Rafael Nadal and which Novak Djokovic had the chance to match at this year's Wimbledon.

 Williams has 23 majors, one short of Margaret Court's women's record, but has been stuck on that total since 2017 and Shriver would be surprised to see her in the 2022 Wimbledon draw.

"I think it's even less likely that she'll be back," Shriver said. "It's really hard to stay fit for another year.

"She can't keep coming back from more and more injuries. I think it's definitely a turning point, pivot time, is the summer of 2021."

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