Novak Djokovic is still targeting a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title at the US Open after John McEnroe led calls for American president Joe Biden to ease the “ridiculous” Covid ban on unvaccinated people.
A four-set victory over Nick Kyrgios sealed Djokovic’s seventh Wimbledon title to again move just one behind Rafael Nadal’s overall record of 22 Grand Slams but, after his infamous exile from Australia earlier this year, his fate again now rests on a country’s Covid laws.
Djokovic’s coach, Goran Ivanisevic, hailed Djokovic’s “heroic” ability to transform a “s--- year” following the extraordinary low of being deported from Australia and McEnroe is now urging the American government to let him play the hard-court season and then next month’s US Open.
“I'm not vaccinated and I'm not planning to get vaccinated so the only good news I can have is them removing the mandated green vaccine card to enter the United States,” said Djokovic.
“I'll wait hopefully for some good news from the US because I would really love to go there. That would be the next big tournament.
“If that doesn't happen, then I have to see what the schedule looks like. I will not burden myself to have to go and play tournaments and get points. I don't feel I'm in a rush really anywhere to end my career in a year’s time or two years' time or whatever. I want to keep my body healthy… keep myself mentally sane and motivated to compete with the young guns.
“Everything that has followed Australia, particularly in the tournaments, has been a huge challenge and obstacle for me to overcome emotionally. I just needed time to weather the storm.”
McEnroe hit out at laws which currently bar unvaccinated people from entering the US. “These politicians are getting in the way too much - they did it in Australia,” said the three-times Wimbledon champion. “Let the guy come in and play in the US. I mean come on. This is ridiculous. You can agree to be tested. There’s got to be a way around this.”
Ivansivic said that Djokovic’s experience in Australia would have sent some players into retirement. “It's very emotional,” said Ivanisevic. “It was a s--- year, a tough year. Being there in Australia…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 free. Imagine for him.
“It's really heroic. He's a great champion. This is the result. This trophy, this joy on Centre Court. It's so beautiful. Maybe Biden will change his mind. A lot of crazy things are happening in the world. Every day something is changing.”
Victory against Kyrgios also continued an extraordinary winning streak on Centre Court that now goes all the way back to 2013. The two players have been embroiled in several previous disputes, notably when Kyrgios called Djokovic “a tool” for complaining about Australia’s quarantine rules but a new-found respect was evident on Centre Court.
“It’s officially a bromance,” said Djokovic. The two players had joked that the winner would buy their opponent dinner, with Kyrgios even suggesting that they “go to a nightclub and go nuts”. Djokovic, who was celebrating his wedding anniversary as well as a fourth straight Wimbledon triumph, replied: “Hopefully this is the start of a wonderful relationship between the two of us. Let’s start with dinner and drinks - then we’ll see.”
Kyrgios, who swore twice in front of a Royal Box containing eight-year-old Prince George during the final, received another $4,000 fine at the end of the match - his third of the tournament - to take his overall tally to $18,000. “He’s a bit of a god - I'm not going to lie,” he said of Djokovic. “He just never looks rattled. I feel like we have a bit of a good relationship now.
McEnroe, Centre Court’s most famously volatile player, told the BBC that Kyrgios partly “beat himself” after becoming angered by a spectator and also his own support team during the match.
Kyrgios himself focused on the positive of a first grand slam final. “I'm not supposed to be a Wimbledon finalist - everything I've been through,” he said. “I'm a kid from Canberra. A month and a half ago, I was actually in a facility playing basketball with some boys back home. I literally said to one of them: ‘Look, I'm going to have some fun and maybe win Wimbledon.’ I didn't hit for more than an hour a day. I feel ridiculous just to be talking as a Wimbledon finalist.”