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Djokovic into 30th Grand Slam final, nears record-equaling 20th major

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates winning against Canada's Denis Shapovalov during their men's singles semi-final match on the eleventh day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 9, 2021. (Photo by AELTC/Ben Solomon / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates winning against Canada’s Denis Shapovalov during their men’s singles semi-final match. (AFP)

LONDON (AFP) – Novak Djokovic reached his 30th Grand Slam final on Friday with a straight sets win over Canada’s Denis Shapovalov to move one victory away from a sixth Wimbledon title and record-equaling 20th major.

The world number one triumphed 7-6 (7/3), 7-5, 7-5 in a tense semi-final in which he crucially saved 10 of 11 break points.

Shapovalov was so distraught that he left Centre Court in tears.

In his seventh Wimbledon final, Djokovic will face Matteo Berrettini after the world number nine became the first Italian to reach a Wimbledon singles final by beating Hubert Hurkacz, 6-3, 6-0, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4.

“I don’t think the scoreline says enough about the performance or the match. He (Shapovalov) was serving for the first set and was probably the better player,” said Djokovic.

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov (AFP)

“I would like to give him a big round of applause for everything he has done today and also this two weeks. We are going to see a lot of him in the future, he is a great player.”

Victory on Sunday will not only take Djokovic level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 Slam wins.

He will also just need the US Open to become only the third man in history, and first since 1969, to complete the calendar Grand Slam.

Shapovalov showed no signs of nerves despite appearing in his first Slam semi-final and having come into the match with a 0-6 losing record against the world number one.

He broke for 2-1 but Djokovic, in his 10th Wimbledon semi-final and 41st at the majors, was back on terms in the 10th game before taking the tiebreak when the Canadian double-faulted.

Shapovalov then failed to take five break points in the second set and Djokovic pounced.

He broke for 6-5 on another double fault and pocketed the set before the Canadian took out his frustration on the chair umpire describing the official as “a joke”.

Djokovic showed his trademark steely defence to fend off four more break points in the second game of the third set.

Again, he made the Canadian left-hander pay by breaking for 6-5 and serving out the match in the next game.

“Novak’s an incredible guy. I don’t think he’s praised enough. He came up to me in the locker room, he just said a couple words. For me, it means a lot. He really doesn’t have to,” revealed Shapovalov.

On Sunday, Berrettini will attempt to become Italy’s first men’s Grand Slam champion since Adriano Panatta at the 1976 French Open.

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Written by Tempo Desk

Tempo 10 June 2021, Saturday issue

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