Wimbledon: Clinical Djokovic sees off Shapovalov to put 20th slam within reach

By Sports Desk July 09, 2021

Novak Djokovic booked his place in a third consecutive Wimbledon final, demonstrating his mastery of the big moments in a 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 7-5 win over Denis Shapovalov.

Number 10 seed Shapovalov produced tennis to delight the Centre Court crowd, with his single-handed backhand typically wonderful, but also threw in errors ill-suited to the task of trying to dethrone a world number one chasing history.

Djokovic will face Matteo Berrettini in Sunday's final after the Italian dispatched Hubert Hurkacz in four, giving him the chance to go level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 career grand slams.

Left-hander Shapovalov made the early running and raced into a 15-40 lead in the third game. He passed up two openings but, after a Djokovic double fault at deuce, he pushed the defending champion back with punishing ground strokes to surge ahead - the only one of 11 break points Djokovic would fail to repel.

The Canadian then strung together three consecutive love service games, only for errors to creep in when the set beckoned at 5-4.  After recovering from 0-30 and an overhit forehand to hand Djokovic a first break point, he went long from the other wing and it was all square.

A wretched tie-break for Shapovalov was bookended by a misjudged drop shot – the first of two initial mini-breaks – and a double fault, handing Djokovic a gift he could scarcely afford.

The 22-year-old left the court and impressively relocated his early form on his return, pushing Djokovic to save three break points in the fourth game and whipping up a crowd keen to see a contest.

Two more followed as the Serb escaped to 3-3, meaning there was a sense of nagging inevitability when, on Djokovic's first break point of set two, Shapovalov produced another appallingly timed double fault.

Djokovic closed out the two-set lead before saving three break points in his first service game of the third, reprising the other theme of frustration for Shapovalov.

From then on, it was a case of gamely scrambling to stay in the contest, with Djokovic's gaze fixed on the finish line. At 5-5, Shapovalov undermined himself with two more doubles and, despite battling to deuce, crunched a groundstroke long.

The all-time great on the other side of the net let out a guttural roar before sealing his toughest win of the tournament in straight sets.

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