Djokovic tames Shapovalov to reach the Wimbledon final.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic absorbed a barrage of powerful blows from Canadian Denis Shapovalov to reach his seventh Wimbledon final on Friday with a 7-6 (3) 7-5 7-5 victory that kept the indefatigable Serbian on track to write history.
The 34-year-old was overshadowed at times by a 22-year-old opponent who lit up a cloudy center court.
But as he almost always does, he responded to adversity with his usual combination of tenacious defense and clinical precision to set up a Sunday showdown with Italian Matteo Berrettini.
10th seed Shapovalov was aiming to become the second Canadian to reach the Wimbledon final and despite producing brilliant tennis, he was left wondering what he might have been like after failing to break the toughest bone in the business.
He struck out 40 winners, but every time Djokovic found himself in danger, he manned the barricades, saving 10 of the 11 break points he faced and committing only 15 unforced errors as he simply refused to lose his way in his fierce pursuit. to match Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal’s men’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles.
Djokovic won the first set despite being served 5-4 by Shapovalov, then saved several breakpoints in the second when his opponent threw the kitchen sink at the five-time champion.
Even in the third set, Shapovalov continued to shoot from the hip, but eventually, his fire was extinguished when Djokovic claimed one of the toughest straight-set victories of his career at Wimbledon.
Shapovalov left the court with tears in his eyes, but he showed enough in a wonderful career to suggest that he is ready to compete for the biggest prizes in tennis.
Djokovic has won 18 consecutive sets since losing the opener in his first-round match against British wild card Jack Draper and extended his winning streak at Wimbledon to 20, having last tasted defeat in the 2017 quarter-finals.
But he knew he had been in a real mess.
“I don’t think the scoreboard says enough about the performance or the game,” Djokovic said on the court.
“He was serving for the first set and he was probably the best player in the second set too, he had a lot of chances. We will see him a lot in the future, he is a great player ”.
Djokovic is now one win away from a third straight Wimbledon title, but there is an even greater incentive to feed the Serbian’s insatiable appetite for victory.
He defeats seventh seed Berrettini on Sunday and will go to next month’s US Open with a series of looming records: a 21st Grand Slam title and possibly a Golden Slam if, in the interim period, he wins the Olympic singles.
“Every time I hear that there is something at stake that is historical, it inspires me, but at the same time I have to balance it and win only the next game,” said Djokovic.
For the vast majority of the match, it was unknown which player was making his first appearance in a Grand Slam semi-final and which was contesting his 41st.
Left-hander Shapovalov had promised to unleash his natural attacking game on Djokovic in a bid to claim a first win against the Serb in seven games. He was only as good as his word.
With backhand and forehand hits on the lines, she dominated the first set after breaking in the third game and served for the first set at 5-4. It felt like a great moment if you wanted to have a shot, but sadly the killer instinct that serial Grand Slam winners have isn’t quite there.
Some groundstrokes allowed him to level Djokovic and the first seed took control of the tiebreaker after winning a fierce baseline rally at 4-2.
Shapovalov finished the set with a double fault.
Undaunted, Shapovalov continued to stretch Djokovic in the second set and had him in trouble with serve at 1-2, but was unable to break despite leading 0-40.
Two games later, Shapovalov was 15-40 on Djokovic’s serve, but again the Serb showed similar skills to Houdini to come out of another hole.
When Shapovalov double-faulted to drop his serve at 5-5, Djokovic enthusiastically argued to open a two-set lead.
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