A fortnight ago few people would have predicted that Australian maverick Nick Kyrgios would be the man standing between Novak Djokovic and a fourth successive Wimbledon title.
Djokovic himself, however, is not surprised that it will be Kyrgios standing over the other side of the net on Sunday.
The Serbian top seed booked his eighth Wimbledon final by coming from a set down against Britain’s Cameron Norrie on Friday while unseeded Kyrgios benefitted from a walkover after Spanish 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafa Nadal withdrew injured.
“But I think between us players, we always know how dangerous he is, on grass particularly, because of his game, because of his attitude on the court being so confident, just going for it, being a very complete player.
“If you see his career, the best tennis he’s played is always against the top guys. That’s why we all respect him, because we know what he can come up with. So it’s also not surprise for me that he’s there.”
Kyrgios, who has been fined twice during this year’s championships and whose behaviour polarises opinion like no other player, remarked this week that many people would have been upset to see his deep run at Wimbledon.
Djokovic is not one of them.
“Honestly, as a tennis fan, I’m glad he’s in the finals because he’s got so much talent,” Djokovic, who has had something of a fractious relationship with the Australian over the years, said. “Everyone was expecting great things from him.
“Then we know what was happening throughout many years with him mentally, emotionally. On and off the court, a lot of different things that were distracting him and he was not being able to get this consistency.
“For the quality player that he is, this is where he needs to be, and he deserves to be.”
This time last year Djokovic was on the verge of his sixth Wimbledon title and looked set for not only a calendar-year Slam but also breaking the record for Grand Slam titles.
Twelve months on, the 35-year-old remains stuck on 20, two behind Rafa Nadal and he knows that his chances of overhauling the Spaniard will diminish as every tournament goes by.