It is unprecedented and, frankly, unjust. Though the men’s and women’s tours made their move to mark their territory and try to discourage future bans over political issues, the point stripping has clearly been more of a short-term hit to the players than to Wimbledon, which has been bustling with full crowds after a lighter-than-usual first few days and has continued to generate global buzz. (Kyrgios vs. Djokovic won’t hurt there.)
But it also has been a Wimbledon full of odd twists and big letdowns, with three leading men’s players, including Matteo Berrettini, withdrawing after testing positive for the coronavirus, and with Nadal unable to play his semifinal against Kyrgios and continue his quest for the calendar-year Grand Slam. One of the twists: Elena Rybakina, born and raised in Russia and often still training there, is in the women’s final and now representing Kazakhstan. Even the British government was unable to finish the tournament, with British ministers resigning en masse before Prime Minister Boris Johnson took the hint.
Djokovic did have to play his semifinal, however, and the suspense did not last much more than a set and a half on Friday before he found his flow against Cameron Norrie of Britain and accelerated to the finish with a victory, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
It was, as it so often is with Djokovic involved, two against one: Norrie and a partisan Centre Court crowd versus Djokovic.
It was loud, often thunderously loud, in the early stages as Norrie took the lead, but it is much less clear which way the crowd will blow on Sunday. Kyrgios’s often-confrontational approach and foul-mouthed dialogues (and monologues) run counter to the codes that are typically embraced at the All England Club, whose crowd trends older, particularly on Centre Court.
Kyrgios, who leads the tournament in fines, is also facing legal trouble, having been summoned to appear in court in Australia on Aug. 2 in relation to an assault allegation from his former girlfriend. He has declined to address the allegations at Wimbledon, and on Friday, when his name was mentioned in Djokovic’s on-court interview, there was a brief flurry of cheers followed by a much louder round of boos.