Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios ready for the final with ‘fireworks’

Event: All England Club Date: July 10th Weather: 14:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC One from 1pm BST, with coverage on radio, online, BBC iPlayer, Red Button, connected TVs and mobile app.

What could happen when two of tennis’s most controversial players meet on their sport’s biggest stage? “Fireworks” – according to Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic faces Australian Nick Kyrgios in the Wimbledon men’s singles final on Sunday, one of them a 20-time Grand Slam champion and the other a debutant in a Grand Slam singles final.

Both fuels on a tennis court.

From racket breaking to arguing with umpires to testy exchanges with the crowd, these two players have a catalog of fiery episodes behind them that make this a riveting matchup.

Of course, in front of royalty and with a prestigious trophy at stake, they may be on their best behavior, but with Djokovic himself expecting an explosive final, let’s see why that might be.

Rants and racket breakage

Both players have had many run-ins with referees over the years. If they are unhappy about something, they often don’t hold back.

In the 2020 Australian Open final, Djokovic touched referee Damien Dumusois’ foot and angrily told him, “You made a name for yourself in this match. Great job” when he was unhappy about receiving time violations. The Serb later apologized for his outburst.

Seven months later, Djokovic was ejected from the US Open after accidentally hitting a ball into a linesman in his fourth-round match; she hit the ball in frustration at losing his serve and hit it behind him in anger.

The 35-year-old has also taken it out on his team, including a spectacular racket takedown in Monte Carlo in 2019, and another throw into the crowd in that same match, as well as smashing another in their 2021 Australian Open quarter-final. final against Alexander Zverev.

A ball boy was left sweeping the pieces off the court after that one in Melbourne and although he acknowledged that it was not the best way to channel his emotions, Djokovic added: “When I broke that racket, things started to change for me in a positive direction. “.

Kyrgios has also erased rackets, leaving a mound of metal and strings on the side of his seat last month during a changeover in a win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Halle.

Not all go to waste: He gave a barely recognizable racket to a young fan in Washington in 2019 as a souvenir.

The 27-year-old has also had countless swearing code violations and has estimated that he has paid around A$800,000 (£455,000) in fines during his career.

‘Love-hate relationship’ with the crowd

Following his semi-final victory over Britain’s Cameron Norrie on Friday, Djokovic was booed from parts of Center Court when he blew a kiss at a fan who had been harassing him.

There was an even louder boo when he mentioned his next opponent, Kyrgios.

It will be interesting to see who gets the most support from the nearly 15,000 spectators in the stands on Sunday.

Despite his great success and supreme talent, Djokovic has often found himself unable to warm the hearts of those who watched him.

When he faced Roger Federer in the 2019 Wimbledon final, an epic encounter was marred by jeers at the Serb.

His mistakes were applauded and booed in a partisan atmosphere found more often in soccer stadiums than on center field.

Djokovic saved match points and won a classic final, with pundits urging fans to show more respect for a great player.

She often cups her ear to the crowd to encourage applause when they don’t come around.

His reluctance to have a covid-19 vaccine has not sat well with some (a shout of ‘Novax’ was heard during Norrie’s match) and his deportation from Australia earlier this year for his vaccination status also divided the opinion.

But it seems clear that Djokovic just wants to be liked: he was moved to tears by the raucous reaction from Arthur Ashe Stadium in last year’s US Open final as he unsuccessfully tried to counter Daniil Medvedev.

Meanwhile, Kyrgios also has a complex relationship with those who watch him.

He admitted spitting in the direction of a fan during his first-round match at Wimbledon and was fined $10,000 (£8,300) for his behavior in that match.

But he has also engaged cordially with fans, asking one of the attendees where he should serve on match point during last year’s Wimbledon.

He also remains attractive: there has hardly been a free seat in his matches at Wimbledon in the last two weeks, and his tricks become popular video clips.

“It’s a love-hate relationship with Nick,” Australian great Todd Woodbridge told BBC Sport. “People are not in favor of the way he behaves, the way he talks and the way he respects people, but they watch him. For that reason, we will be looking for big TV ratings in Australia. “.

The Wimbledon final comes at the end of a week. Kyrgios has learned that he will appear in court in Australia next month in connection with a common assault charge.

‘Lights out’ tennis

Even if you take emotions out of the equation, the brand of tennis Kyrgios brings is explosive enough.

Underarm serves and hotdogs mean he mixes the offbeat and unpredictable with a big serve that is notoriously hard to break.

The pair have met twice: Kyrgios won both meetings in 2017 in straight sets.

“He turns out the lights every time he steps out on the court,” Djokovic said of Kyrgios, with whom he had a thorny relationship in the past. before a new ‘bromance’.

“Just a lot of power on his serve and his game. So I’m sure he’ll try. He’ll definitely be aggressive. I hope he does that.”

In the past, Kyrgios has spoken of his struggles with motivation, saying training is boring and even being banned for apparent lack of effort, but that’s not the case on big occasions.

“He’s a big match player,” Djokovic said. “If you look at his career, the best tennis he has ever played is against the best. That’s why we all respect him, because we know what he can do.

“The experience that I have at this level, playing finals against someone who has never played a Grand Slam final, could play a little in my favor. At the same time, knowing who he is and how he does his tennis and his attitude on the court, doesn’t seem to be under much pressure.

“One thing is for sure, there will be a lot of fireworks emotionally from both of us,” he added.

“It’s going to be an interesting match.”

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