Defending champion Novak Djokovic was in ruthless form on Friday as he beat the hardworking Denis Shapovalov to reach this year’s Wimbledon final. The world No.1 progressed in straight sets — 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 7-5 — but the final result doesn’t reflect how well Shapovalov played in what was his first Grand Slam semifinal.
Meanwhile, Djokovic was playing in his 41st Grand Slam semifinal and showed just how important experience and mentality is at this stage of the tournament.
He will now look to claim a record-equaling 20th major title in Sunday’s final, which would bring him alongside Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for the most men’s Grand Slam titles.
“The dream keeps going. I’m trying to take out the maximum of my own abilities every single match and see what happens. Giving up is never an option,” Djokovic said during his on-court interview.
“In particular at this stage of my career, Grand Slams are everything really. I’ve been very privileged to make history in the sport that I truly love. It fills my heart.”
“Every time I hear there is something on the line that is historic it inspires me but at the same time I have to balance it and win only the next match.”
Djokovic digs deep
Despite his young opponent showing real promise throughout the match, Djokovic dug deep and was able to turn it on when it really mattered, leaving Shapovalov a frustrated figure on court at times.
A tiebreak was needed to separate the two men during a nail-biting first set after Shapovalov failed to serve it out.
The Canadian wasted yet more chances in the second, with Djokovic surviving five break points before taking his one and only chance to break the Canadian and take the set.
Shapovalov was clearly frustrated as both players prepared for the third, with the 22-year-old remonstrating with the chair umpire over a controversial call which had handed Djokovic the second set.Fired up, Shapovalov started the third set impressively and was cheered on by those watching on Center Court.
But it was a familiar story in the end. On big points, Djokovic simply found a new level — a trait which has seen him win a career total of 19 Grand Slam titles — and broke Shapovalov’s final service game. Shapovalov was in tears as he left the court while Djokovic, clearly pumped up, praised his opponent for an extraordinary performance.
‘He’s a great player’
“I don’t think the scoreline says enough about the match,” Djokovic added.
“He was serving for the first set and he was probably the better player for most of the second set, he had many chances.
“I’d like to give him a big round of applause for everything he has done today and also the last few weeks.
“You could see he was emotional but we are going to see a lot of him in the future, he’s a great player.”
Djokovic will now face Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in the final where he will seek to win his sixth Wimbledon title. Berrettini became the first Italian man to reach the grass-court Grand Slam final after bludgeoning his way past the gutsy Hubert Hurkacz earlier on Friday.