Novak Djokovic reached his seventh Wimbledon final on Friday and moved within one victory of claiming a record-tying 20th Grand Slam title.

The World No. 1 defeated 10th seed Denis Shapovalov 7-6(3), 7-5, 7-5 to set a championship showdown against seventh seed Matteo Berrettini, who eliminated 14th seed Hubert Hurkacz earlier in the day. Djokovic rallied from a break down in the first set and withstood a baseline barrage from Shapovalov to triumph after two hours and 44 minutes.

“I don’t think that the scoreline says enough about the performance and about the match. He was serving for the first set and he was probably the better player for most of the second set,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “He had many chances and I would like to give him a big round of applause for everything that he has done today and these two weeks.”

The Serbian superstar has not lost a set since his first set of the tournament against home favourite Jack Draper. He joins Roger Federer as the only two men to reach 30 Grand Slam finals (Federer has made 31). A win on Sunday will give the top seed his third major trophy of the season and move him to within a US Open crown of completing the Calendar-Year Grad Slam.

Most Grand Slam Finals (all-time)

For much of his clash against Shapovalov — a first-time major semi-finalist — the action was not on Djokovic’s racquet. But the 34-year-old was outstanding under pressure, saving 10 of the 11 break points he faced, and that was the difference.

“In [the] important moments, I think I probably held my nerves better than he did and just made him play an extra shot, made him [make] an unforced error,” Djokovic said. “It’s tough to play Denis, particularly on grass and quicker surfaces with the lefty serve that he’s got. He can hit any spot. I think he’s one of the best servers on the tour, without a doubt. When he’s on, when he’s feeling that serve, it’s a weapon on any surface against anyone.” 

The 19-time Grand Slam champion has now won six consecutive semi-finals at the All England Club, and is now 30-11 in major semi-finals overall, including 16 of his past 17.

Break Points Saved – Djokovic vs. Shapovalov

Shapovalov did not make it easy for the five-time Wimbledon winner, though. The dynamic lefty came out firing, going after his forehand and backhand without hesitation. The 10th seed broke Djokovic in his second return game of the match behind a baseline onslaught, and he got into an impressive serving rhythm to move into closing position in the opener.

But when the Canadian served for the first set at 5-4, he began to show cracks in his game. At 30/30, Shapovalov missed an easy forehand from the service line into a wide-open court. Although that miss did not immediately allow Djokovic back on serve, he missed a backhand long three points later to relinquish his advantage.

In the ensuing tie-break, Djokovic shook his head in disappointment after a poor drop shot. But Shapovalov hit one on the next point that did not reach the net, and he was never able to fully recover. The top seed dared the lefty to beat him with aggressive play, and the 22-year-old was unable to do so, hitting a double fault to end the set.

The Next Gen ATP Finals alumnus did well to shake that off in the second set, in which he continued going after his shots to put Djokovic under pressure. But the Serbian bent and never broke, escaping a 0/40 deficit at 1-2. And in crunch time at the end of the set, Djokovic played sensational defence to force Shapovalov to go for even more, and the World No. 12 double-faulted well long to give away the break.

After closing out the second set, Djokovic was unable to immediately storm through the final set. But at 5-5, it was once again the Canadian who slipped. The 10th seed missed a forehand long on break point, eliciting a primal roar from Djokovic, who served out the match to love in the next game with his seventh ace.

Djokovic will play another powerful foe on Sunday. He leads Berrettini 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series — the Serbian lost just three games against him at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals and needed four sets to beat the Italian in this year’s Roland Garros quarter-finals.

Berrettini, however, is playing the best tennis of his career, and is now 11-0 this season on grass. Djokovic owns a 20-match tour-level winning streak on grass.

“There is no holding back once you step out on the court, particularly in the later stages of an event that I always dreamt of winning. The dream keeps going,” Djokovic said. “I am trying to take out the maximum of my own abilities every single match and see what happens. Giving up is never an option.”

Did You Know?
This is the first time Djokovic has advanced to the Wimbledon final with the loss of just one set. The Serbian lost two sets en route to the championship match at the All England Club in 2013, 2015 and 2019.

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