Andy Murray beat Hubert Hurkacz at the third attempt this year to advance to the second round of the Vienna Open.

Having lost to world number 10 Hurkacz in both Cincinnati and Metz, Murray claimed a hard-fought victory that took two hours and 40 minutes over three sets.

Hurkacz has enjoyed a brilliant 2021, winning three singles titles, but despite forcing a decider, went down 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 3-6 on Monday in a defeat that dealt a blow to his ATP Finals hopes.

"My movement has been getting a little better with each match," Murray said. "It was a good match that could have gone either way. It was a good win in tough circumstances."

"A lot of my movement is about anticipation and when you're not playing many matches – like I haven't been in recent years – you don't read the play quite as well.

"Now I'm starting to see the ball a little earlier and starting to react a little quicker, which means I will start to chase more balls down."

The Scot has been drawn against Carlos Alcaraz, who beat the 34-year-old's fellow Briton Dan Evans in straight sets. Murray defeated the Spanish teenager in a thrilling tussle at Indian Wells earlier this month.

Third seed and 2021 Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini also made it through, beating Alexei Popyrin 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 to avoid an upset after a keenly contested first set.

Meanwhile, seventh seed Alexander Bublik claimed a comfortable 6-3 6-4 win over Evgeny Tyurnev at the St. Petersburg Open.

Sebastian Korda and Jan-Lennard Struff also progressed in Russia.

Alexander Zverev overcame former world number one Andy Murray to reach the Indian Wells Masters last 16 as Stefanos Tsitsipas also progressed, but Matteo Berrettini lost.

Olympic Gamed gold medallist and third seed Zverev fell behind a break in both sets but battled past Murray in straight sets at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament on Tuesday.

Tsitsipas – the second seed – rallied from a set down to vanquish Fabio Fognini in the desert, while fifth seed Berrettini was a third-round casualty.

 

ZVEREV CLAIMS COVETED SCALP OF MURRAY

Having already defeated Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in his career, all that was missing for Zverev was a win over Murray to complete the 'Big Four' sweep.

Zverev added Murray to his list of scalps with a 6-4 7-6 (7-4) victory to reach the Indian Wells fourth round for the first time since 2016.

The German star has now won 19 of his last 20 matches since Wimbledon.

"He's the only one of the Big Four that I hadn't beaten yet, so I'm happy that I've done it today," said Zverev, who will clash with 14th seed Gael Monfils in the next round. "Obviously it was a fantastic match.

"I thought Andy played extremely well, maybe as well as he's played since the surgery. I hope he continues playing the same way, because tennis did miss him for a long time and I think it's good to have him back."

 

TSITSIPAS FIGHTS BACK

It was far from easy for Greek star Tsitsipas, who prevailed 2-6 6-3 6-4 against 25th seed Fabio Fognini.

Tsitsipas added to his ATP Tour-leading haul of match wins this season, which now stands at 53 after Fognini had been looking to score his first victory over the French Open runner-up.

Alex de Minaur – the 22nd seed – awaits after he took down 13th seed Cristian Garin 6-4 6-2 for his first trip to the Indian Wells last 16.

 

BERRETTINI BUNDLED OUT

Wimbledon finalist Berrettini was no match for Taylor Fritz, who surprisingly topped the Italian 6-4 6-3.

Berrettini entered the contest as the only player on the ATP Tour this season to register double-digit wins on three surfaces – 15-4 (hard), 13-4 (clay) and 11-1 (grass).

"We're coming to the end of the year, I could really use a big result," said Fritz after claiming his first top-10 win of the year. "This is just what I needed, playing one of my favourite tournaments close to home."

Andy Murray put his body to the test as the former world number one overcame teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz at the Indian Wells Masters, where stars Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev advanced to the third round.

Murray needed more than three hours to see off 18-year-old talent Alcaraz, who announced himself on the big stage with a quarter-final run at the US Open.

An Indian Wells runner-up in 2009, Murray was joined in the next round by second seed Tsitsipas and third seed Zverev on Sunday.

 

MURRAY WINS BATTLE OF GENERATIONS

Injuries have struck down Murray in recent years, but the three-time grand slam champion showed there is still plenty of fight left in the tank after rallying past debutant Alcaraz 5-7 6-3 6-2.

Facing a player 16 years his junior, Murray – making his 13th Indian Wells appearance – reached the third round of an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time since 2016.

The 34-year-old Murray, who hit an underarm ace, improved his record to 27-12 in the desert following three hours, four minutes on court.

"He's obviously got so much potential, so much firepower and these conditions it's not easy to finish points off quickly, but he's able to because he has so much pace from the back of the court so I had to fight extremely hard, coming back from a set down," said Murray, who will next meet Zverev. 

"I felt like in the second set he played maybe better. First set I felt like I had more of the opportunities but didn't get it so yeah, happy with the way I fought. He's a top-drawer young player."

 

ZVEREV QUALIFIES FOR TURIN AS TSITSIPAS CRUISES

US Open finalist and Olympic gold medallist Zverev outlasted talented American Jenson Brooksby 6-4 3-6 6-1 to set up a showdown with Murray.

World number four Zverev ended the contest with 12 aces and 28 winners, having qualified for next month's ATP Finals in Turin thanks to the German's four tour-level titles in 2021.

"It wasn't an easy match, but I'm happy to be through, I'm happy to be in the third round and playing Andy now," said Zverev, who has won 18 of his last 19 matches since Wimbledon. "I think he's the only one of the 'Big Four' [including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer] I haven't beaten yet, so I hope I can change that. I think it's incredible how well he's moving and incredible how well he's playing. I think he's very motivated so I hope I can show my best tennis."

It was far more routine for Greek star Tsitsipas, who eased past Pedro Martinez 6-2 6-4 in his tournament opener.

Tsitsipas needed just 93 minutes to take down his opponent for his Tour-leading 52nd win of the season as the French Open runner-up awaits 25th seed Fabio Fognini for a place in the fourth round.

 

BERRETTINI ROLLS ON AS AUGER-ALIASSIME SAYS GOODBYE

Italian fifth seed Matteo Berrettini won through to the third round via a 6-4 7-5 success against qualifier Alejandro Tabilo – his first Indian Wells win following two previous appearances.

Felix Auger-Aliassime was the biggest name to depart the event on Sunday, with the seventh seed and Flushing Meadows semi-finalist going down 6-4 6-2 to Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Jannik Sinner, Pablo Carreno Busta, Cristian Garin and Gael Monfils were among the seeds to progress.

Team Europe are on track for their fourth consecutive Laver Cup triumph after earning an early 3-1 lead against Team World.

Opening-day honours went to Bjorn Borg's Team Europe at TD Garden in Boston, where the defending champions moved into the box seat thanks to wins for Andrey Rublev, Matteo Berrettini and Casper Ruud in the singles on Friday.

John Isner and Denis Shapovalov managed to get Team World on the board in the evening's final doubles match against Alexander Zverev and Berrettini 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 10-1.

Roger Federer and Rod Laver were in the crowd as Team Europe – headlined by newly crowned US Open champion Daniil Medvedev and consisting of six of the world's top 10 – made a strong start courtesy of Norwegian Ruud, who overcame Reilly Opelka 6-3 7-6 (7-4), improving his career record to 3-0 against the towering American, and beating him in straight sets for the first time.

Italian star Berrettini then overcame Team World's Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 10-8 in the competition's longest match at two hours, 52 minutes.

Berrettini escaped with the second set after facing two break points in the penultimate game before prevailing against the Canadian in a thrilling match tie-break.

"One of the best matches bar none that I've ever seen played, absolutely just enthralling," said captain John McEnroe, whose Team World are eyeing their first Laver Cup trophy.

Rublev rallied past Argentina's Diego Schwartzman, who won the opening set and led 6-2 and 8-5 in the match tie-break before losing 4-6 6-3 11-9.

"Today we are a bit more lucky; Matteo won a tough match against Felix in a super tiebreak, now you saw my match," said Russian star Rublev.

"It was so close; Diego was leading all the super tiebreak, but in the end I find a way to win.

"This happens. This is tennis, this is sport. It’s emotions. Someone has to win, someone has to lose."

On day two, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Zverev headline the day session against Team World's Nick Kyrgios and Isner.

In the evening, Medvedev will meet Shapovalov before Rublev and Tsitsipas team up for a doubles battle with Kyrgios and Isner.

Novak Djokovic knows he faces a tough challenge in his US Open semi-final with Alexander Zverev after coming from a set down to beat Matteo Berrettini.

The Serbian triumphed 5-7 6-2 6-2 6-3 to thwart Berrettini's revenge mission, having defeated the Italian in this year's Wimbledon final.

The world number one now faces the man who denied him a shot at the Golden Slam, with Zverev dumping Djokovic out of the semi-finals at Tokyo 2020.

And the 20-time grand slam winner was full of praise for his next opponent.

"He's in tremendous form, he's been winning a lot," said Djokovic, who still has the Calendar Grand Slam in his sights. "He has comfortably moved to the semi-finals here.

"I know his game well, we played in Tokyo. He's one of the best players in the world, but the bigger the challenge the more glory in overcoming it."

Reflecting on his victory over Berrettini, Djokovic felt he found his best form after dropping the opening set.

"This was a great match, with a lot of energy on and off the court," he said. 

"Matteo is a terrific player and every time we face each other it's a close battle.

"When I lost the first set, I managed to forget about it and move on. I was locked in at the start of the second and it was the best three sets I've played so far."

Novak Djokovic moved within two wins of an historic calendar Grand Slam at the US Open after completing a merciless comeback against Matteo Berrettini 5-7 6-2 6-2 6-3 en route to the semi-finals.

Berrettini was seeking revenge for his Wimbledon final loss to Djokovic and the Italian sixth seed gave himself a good chance after winning the opening set at Flushing Meadows on Wednesday.

But Berrettini was helplessly outclassed in a devastating display from world number one Djokovic, who is bidding to become just the third man to sweep all four majors in a year and first since 1969.

The 20-time major champion, who can also break the record for most men's slam titles – currently tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, will face Alexander Zverev in the New York semis.

For the third consecutive match, Djokovic done it the hard way, rallying after dropping the opening set, just like he did against Jenson Brooksby and Kei Nishikori.

In a brutal display of big hitting, Berrettini had the crowd roaring – firing down seven aces and saving two break points in a marathon first set lasting one hour, 17 minutes.

Berrettini held serve in a physically demanding sixth game after 12 minutes and seven deuces.

Djokovic – not without his chances – did not look like his usual self, spraying a forehand wide as Berrettini seized control following four set points.

Berrettini was looking to claim his first win over Djokovic after three consecutive defeats and earn his first top-10 victory at a grand slam (0-5 heading into the contest), but the Serb star turned the match on its head into the second set.

Djokovic, though, flipped the switch as he broke for the first time to move 3-1 ahead before consolidating for a 4-1 lead, silencing the pro-Berrettini crowd in New York, where the latter was unable to stop the rot.

Berrettini looked deflated and tired in the third set – Djokovic racing out to a commanding 3-0 advantage.

Djokovic missed the chance to move 5-2 ahead but it only delayed the inevitable as he fended off a break point the very next game to eventually earn a two-sets-to-one lead.

And the 34-year-old could not be stopped as he celebrated his 80th US Open match win in emphatic fashion.

 

Data slam: Can Djokovic be stopped?

Djokovic extended his winning streak at grand slams to 26 matches, while he also remains unbeaten in US Open quarter-finals (12-0). The record-chasing star also owns a 9-0 major record in 2021 after dropping the first set.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 44/28
Berrettini – 42/43

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 12/4
Berrettini – 17/2

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 5/16
Berrettini – 1/5

Nick Kyrgios, John Isner and Reilly Opelka have been named by Team World captain John McEnroe as his final three picks for the Laver Cup.

The trio join Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Diego Schwartzman for the team event which runs from September 24-26 at TD Garden in Boston.

Laver Cup newcomer Opelka rose to a career-high world number 23 ranking en route to his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Toronto and defeated world number three Stefanos Tsitsipas, who will play for Bjorn Borg's Team Europe.

Isner, who has featured for Team World since the inaugural event in 2017, reached the semi-finals in Toronto and claimed his 16th ATP Tour title in Atlanta at the start of August.

He described the Laver Cup as "a highlight of my year", adding: "To be on a team with guys we're normally competing against is so different and so much fun. We come together so well as a group, the chemistry is awesome and it's such a great environment to be part of."

Australian firebrand Kyrgios is a striking inclusion in Team World's roster, while Team Europe will be without their big three: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Federer and Dominic Thiem were expected to take part in this year's event, though both were forced to withdraw with injuries.

However, Borg's men still boast six of the world's top 11. World number two Daniil Medvedev leads the line-up, with Tsitsipas and Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Alexander Zverev for company.

Casper Ruud, who collected a 14th win in his last 15 completed matches on tour when he beat Opelka on Wednesday, will feature, while Andrey Rublev and Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini complete the six-man team.

Team Europe have landed the title in each of the three editions of the tournament so far, with Prague, Chicago and Geneva having served as hosts.

Fifth seed Matteo Berrettini survived an early scare on his return from a thigh injury to progress in the second round of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati over Albert Ramos-Vinolas on Tuesday.

The Italian world number eight, making his ATP Tour return since losing the Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic in July, won 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 7-5.

The Spaniard claimed the first set in a tie-break but Berrettini hit back, sending down 25 aces for the match, winning 84 per cent on his first serve.

"I'm happy for the win. I think I served really well," Berrettini said. "My strokes from the baseline weren't working the way I wanted them to, but I knew from the beginning it's been a long time since I played a match, especially on hard, so I expected to feel a little bit weird."

The match extended to two hours and 20 minutes, with the Italian utilizing his backhand slice in the final set to get the edge.

Berrettini, who has a 33-7 record for the season, will face 12th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime or Karen Khachanov in the third round.

"I'm really happy that I'm going to have the chance to play another match because that's what I need," Berrettini said. "I need to play matches. I need to get in the best shape possible."

Canadian sixth seed Denis Shapovalov suffered a shock early upset, going down to France's Benoit Paire 6-3 4-6 7-5 in the Round of 64.

Former US Open, Wimbledon and Australian Open semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov toppled 13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3 6-4 in one hour and 21 minutes.

Fellow seed Cristian Garin also bowed out, losing 4-6 6-3 6-4 to qualifier Tommy Paul, while ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-1 6-7 (3-7) 6-1.

Marin Cilic, John Isner, Sebastian Korda, Gael Monfils, Reilly Opelka, Lorenzo Sonego and Frances Tiafoe were the other Tuesday winners.

Isner sent down his 13,000th career ace in his three-set win over Briton Cam Norrie.

Italy's Matteo Berrettini has become the latest high-profile tennis player to pull out of the Tokyo Olympics after injuring his thigh.

The world number eight, who had a bandaged leg in last week's Wimbledon final loss to Novak Djokovic, joins Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka in withdrawing from the men's event.

Serena Williams, Simona Halep, Victoria Azarenka, Johanna Konta, Bianca Andreescu and Angelique Kerber are among those to have already announced their decision to skip the women's tournament in Tokyo.

Berrettini, the first Italian to reach a Wimbledon singles final, announced his decision in an Instagram post on Sunday.

The 25-year-old's announcement comes a day after compatriot Francesco Molinari revealed he will not be taking part in the golf event at the Olympics.

"I am extremely disappointed to announce my withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympic Games," Berrettini said.

"I had an MRI scan yesterday on the thigh injury I sustained during Wimbledon and was informed I will not be able to compete for a couple of weeks."

The Olympic tennis events begin on July 24 and run through to August 1.

However, the deadline to name new athletes passed on Friday, so the Italian National Olympic Committee will not be able to name a replacement to join Fabio Fognini, Lorenzo Sonego and Lorenzo Musetti.

"Representing Italy is the biggest honour for me so it is devastating to miss the Olympics," Berrettini added.

"I wish the entire Italian team the best of luck in Tokyo. I will be supporting you all the way."

Despite the flurry of withdrawals, world number one Djokovic confirmed this week that he will enter the Olympic Games.

Djokovic travels to Japan in pursuit of a ground-breaking achievement, the Serbian just two titles – the Olympics and US Open – away from a first men's Golden Slam after triumphing at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon in 2021

A golden age deserves a Golden Slam, and who would bet against Novak Djokovic achieving that now?

This extraordinary Serbian has chased down Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the grand slam race, joining them on 20 majors as he became the first $150million man in tennis.

When he raced up to the players' box and butted heads out of joy with Goran Ivanisevic, his coach, Djokovic was living out another magnificent moment in a career jammed with them.

This is now three successive Wimbledon titles and six in all at the All England Club for Djokovic.

More than that though, he is the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the first three grand slams of a season, and the Olympic Games and US Open are still to come.

Steffi Graf is the only player in tennis history to have won all four majors and an Olympic gold in the same year, the great German doing so in 1988. Graf could soon have company in the record books, because Djokovic looks unstoppable.

When Matteo Berrettini snatched the opening set here on a tie-break, there were omens that said it would be the Italian's day. The grand slam final newcomer had a 22-0 winning record from the times when he previously won the first set in grass-court matches.

Djokovic had other ideas.

The 34-year-old is a case study in triumphant self-improvement, forever seeking ways to bolster his chances of winning, whether it be veganism, meditation or relentless hard yakka on the training court.

He wound up many with his views on vaccinations, and triggered others, including Federer, Nadal and Andy Murray, last August by fronting a new Professional Tennis Players Association at a time when the sport's existing off-court leaders were battling to cope amid the pandemic.

And he will never be as loved on Centre Court as Federer, Nadal and Murray, those other members of the Big Four. It's something he is coming to terms with.

"He means well but sometimes he doesn't come across," said Boris Becker on the BBC.

But what Djokovic does on court remains wondrous and his achievements are reaching new heights.

In grand slam terms, it is now a three-man crowd on 20 titles. Tennis can throw up surprises, but Djokovic is a firm favourite to break away and finish alone on top of the pile.

"It means none of us will stop, that's what it means," Djokovic said, as he reflected on matching his great rivals. "They're legends of our sport and they are the two most important players that I ever faced in my career. They are the reason where I am today.

"They helped me realise what I need to do to get stronger mentally, physically and tactically."

Federer could yet decide the time has come to quit, perhaps even before the US Open comes around, while Nadal, when he returns from his mid-season hiatus, may rise to the challenge in New York.

Yet Djokovic made his intentions quite clear when asked about the prospect of sealing a clean sweep of 2021's biggest titles at Flushing Meadows.

"I could defijnitely envision that happening," he said. "I'm hoping I'm going to give it a shot. "I'm in great form, I'm obviously playing well, and playing my best tennis at grand slams is the highest priority I have at this stage of my career, so let's keep it going."

Twenty years ago, wild card Ivanisevic won this title behind some of the greatest serving ever witnessed.

Against Berrettini and throughout Wimbledon, Djokovic demonstrated how much that shot has become such a vital play for him too.

Djokovic came into this title match with the best percentage record of first-serve points won in the tournament (85 per cent). Berrettini had served the most aces, but Djokovic sat a healthy third on that list too.

Like Cristiano Ronaldo in football, Djokovic has found new ways to prolong his stay at the top of his profession, and Ivanisevic has had a big part to play in that over the past two years.

Djokovic had 209 aces from 30 matches this year before launching into his Wimbledon mission, and he has added 68 in seven matches over this fortnight.

That represents a big step-up from where he was five years ago, when in a year that saw him win the Australian and French Opens and reach the US Open final he served a modest 276 aces in 72 matches. He has gone from serving close to four aces a match to seven. And while he will never launches aces in the manner of an Ivanisevic, he is still finding ways to develop his game.

Ronaldo has become increasingly a penalty area predator rather than a player who causes chaos across the football pitch. From the 2008-09 season to the 2013-14 campaign, Ronaldo scored at least eight goals per season from outside the 18-yard box, but over the past four seasons the most he has managed has been three.

Where once many of his goals came from fast breaks out of defence, now those are collectors' items.

The greatest find a way to sustain greatness and Djokovic is similarly working on building up the weaponry that allows him to extend his career well into his mid-thirties.

He won 79 per cent of first-serve points against Berrettini, who had a success rate of 76 per cent. And although he was out-aced 16-5 on this occasion, it was Djokovic's consistency that won out.

His athleticism remains astonishing. Trailing 3-2 in the fourth set, Djokovic dashed from the baseline to the net to track down a drop shot that would have beaten most, but he clipped the ball across court for a winner that even had Berrettini smiling.

The game was not yet up, but in essence it was. How do you beat this guy?

Djokovic now owns a 20-10 win-loss record in grand slam finals. Only Federer, who has reached 31 of those matches, has played in more.

Djokovic has won seven of the past eight slam finals he has contested. He has triumphed in six of his seven Wimbledon finals – the exception being his 2013 loss to Murray.

Tokyo awaits now, and then New York.

All that prize-money, all that he has achieved already, and Djokovic remains ravenous for more.

Novak Djokovic lauded Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer as inspirations after he claimed his 20th grand slam title at Wimbledon.

Djokovic overcame Matteo Berrettini 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4 6-3 on Sunday to win for the sixth time at the All England Club, matching Nadal and Federer's haul of slam titles in the process.

The world number one dropped just two sets throughout the tournament and will now head to the US Open looking to complete a calendar Grand Slam.

Asked what it meant to draw level with his two great rivals, Djokovic said: "It means none of us three will stop, that's what it means.

"I have to pay a great tribute to Rafa and Roger, they are legends of our sport, they are the two most important players I ever faced in my career. They are the reason that I'm where I am today, they've helped me realise what I need to do to get stronger mentally, physically, tactically.

"When I broke into the top 10 for the first time I lost for two, three years all of the big matches I played against these guys. Something shifted in 2010, the beginning of 2011 and the last 10 years has been an incredible journey that is not stopping here."

Djokovic, 34, will go to New York looking to overtake his rivals and create history as he looks to become only the second man to win the four majors in the same year.

"I could definitely envisage that happening. I'm hoping, I'm going to definitely give it a shot," he said.

"I'm in great form. Playing my best tennis at grand slams is my highest priority at this stage of my career. Let's keep it going."

Djokovic beat Federer in an all-time classic Wimbledon showdown in 2019, though did not quite find his best form against slam final debutant Berrettini.

"It was more than a battle, I would like to extend congratulations to Matteo," he said.

"I know it's not the best feeling losing in a final. I'm sure there's a great career ahead, I truly believe that. He's got an incredible game, very powerful - true Italian hammer! 

"Winning Wimbledon was always the biggest dream of mine as a kid, I've told this story many times but I have to repeat it to remind myself how special this is and not take it for granted. On the contrary, to enjoy and be aware that this is a huge honour and privilege.

"A seven-year-old boy in Serbia, constructing a Wimbledon trophy from materials I could find and today finding with a sixth Wimbledon [title] it's incredible, amazing."

Berrettini took a front-foot approach and struck an impressive 57 winners, but ultimately his unforced error count of 48-27 to Djokovic's tally – proved costly. Indeed, the Italian lost the match when he sent a weak backhand into the net.

"Unbelievable feelings, maybe too many to handle," Berrettini said.

"For sure he was better than me, he is a great champion. Well done Novak, once again, he is writing the history of this sport so he deserves all the credit.

"I'm really happy for my final, hopefully it's not going to be my last one here, my last one in a grand slam."

Novak Djokovic drew level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 grand slam titles after battling back to beat Matteo Berrettini and defend his Wimbledon crown.

Sunday's final was the first since 2019, when Djokovic had to be at his best to edge Federer in one of the All England Club's great matches.

The top seed scarcely came close to that same standard against Berrettini, nor did he need to despite falling behind in a first-set tiebreak, allowing his opponent – a major final debutant – to defeat himself at times.

A 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4 6-3 success earned Djokovic parity with Federer and Nadal, and he may well be out on his own as he shows few signs of slowing while his ageing rivals each manage their schedules.

Even in command of the one set he dropped, Djokovic survived a sloppy start to break at the second attempt as his opponent skewed a forehand into the sidelines and piled on the pressure again in a long eighth game.

But he faltered when serving for the set, with Berrettini's chipped forehand pass restoring parity, which was then protected with a roar to reach a tiebreak.

The pair traded mini-breaks before Berrettini seized the initiative, stepping forward for a superb forehand winner and serving out the set with a blistering ace.

Djokovic promptly claimed control of the second, though, alert at close range to break a first time and two up when Berrettini bowed to the third chance in the third game, firing into the net.

Berrettini did not give up the chase, following an outrageous tweener lob for 5-2 with a break back after Djokovic's slip and then a further frantic hold.

However, the world number one this time successfully served out the set to love and once more made swift progress in the third, holding his nerve in a backhand rally until Berrettini clipped the net.

Djokovic saved a pair of break points at 3-2 and kept Berrettini at arm's length thereafter to see out the set.

Berrettini took the fight to the favourite in the fourth but merely succeeded in provoking his best play of the match, a staggering point in which the breathless Djokovic held firm setting the stage for a break in the next game – decided by a double fault.

With the end in sight, rather than face the challenge of serving for game, set, match and championship, Djokovic went on the offensive again and Berrettini could not cling on, slicing into the net at the last.

Data Slam: Berrettini brave but beaten

Berrettini's aggressive approach meant this match was always likely to be decided on his racket. His 16 aces improved a tournament-high tally to 117 and fittingly included the decisive point in the first set. There were also 57 Berrettini winners, including three from approach shots in that opener. But the 48 unforced errors to the risk-averse Djokovic's 21 took the contest away from the Italian.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 31/21
Berrettini – 57/48

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 5/4
Berrettini – 16/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 6/15
Berrettini – 2/7

Novak Djokovic is wary of the threat "red hot" Wimbledon final rival Matteo Berrettini poses to his Golden Slam ambitions.

Chasing a sixth title at the All England Club, and bidding to become the fourth man in the Open Era to record a hat-trick of successive Wimbledon triumphs, Djokovic could hardly be set to face a tougher opponent.

Berrettini won the Queen's Club title on grass in June and has made good on many experts' prediction that he would be the player to come through the bottom half of the SW19 draw.

Should the 25-year-old Italian carry off the title, he would become his country's first singles champion at Wimbledon.

And although Djokovic starts as a heavy favourite, looking to join Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 grand slams, it is not so preposterous to think there could be an upset.

Berrettini leads the way in aces with 101 for the tournament, which puts him 38 ahead of Djokovic in third place on the list.

He has also been the second fastest server, sending down a delivery of 139mph. Djokovic sits top in terms of points won on first serve, his 85 per cent success record putting him a shade ahead of Berrettini, fifth with a very healthy 82 per cent.

There have been suspicions in the past that Berrettini had a limited game in terms of its dimensions, but he has put paid to that talk in recent times, showing admirable variation, which together with the confidence that is soaring makes him a genuine threat to the world number one.

 

Djokovic has not lost at Wimbledon against a fellow top-10 player since his defeat to Andy Murray in the 2013 final, and if he is seeking positive omens ahead of Sunday's Centre Court showdown that is certainly one, as is the fact he beat world number nine Berrettini in four sets in their French Open quarter-final in early June.

The 34-year-old from Belgrade is aiming to complete the third leg of a staggering bid to win all four majors and the Olympic Games singles title. The Golden Slam is a feat only ever previously achieved by Steffi Graf in 1988.

But Djokovic senses danger when he looks at Berrettini, more so than when they met on clay in Paris.

He pointed out: "Obviously grass favours him even more, favours his game. If he serves big, as he did throughout the entire tournament, it's tough to break his serve, it's tough to go into the rhythm, to find a good positioning to return, make him play.

"But I believe in my return. I think return has served me very well throughout my career. Hopefully I'll be able to get a lot of those serves back and wait for my chances."

Djokovic added: "It's really anybody's game. He's arguably the guy who has been in the best form on grass courts this year, winning Queen's. He's red hot. It's going to be a great battle."

It would be a sixth Wimbledon title for Djokovic should he claw his way past Berrettini, who is seeking a first grand slam title.

In the Open Era, only Pete Sampras, Bjorn Borg and Roger Federer have won three or more successive Wimbledon titles among the men, while Djokovic, in this potentially historic year of his, is bidding to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win each of the first three slams in a season.

Berrettini's career record does not come near to competing with that of the player who will stand on the opposite side of the net. On Sunday the Rome-born player will target a sixth tour title, and a third on grass.

Yet coming from Queen's Club, he was being told that a major opportunity awaited him at Wimbledon.

"I knew I could do it, but I didn't think I am going to do it because this is how I am," Berrettini said.

"I took every step really careful and slowly. I guess it was the right thing to do. Obviously the job is not done yet. I want to get the trophy now that I'm here."

Matteo Berrettini is advising his compatriots to purchase new televisions for what he expects to be a special Sunday that will see him contest the Wimbledon final before Italy face England in the Euro 2020 showpiece.

Berrettini will become the first Italian to feature in a singles final at Wimbledon when he faces world number one Novak Djokovic, bidding for a record-tying 20th grand slam title, at the All England Club.

Over in North London, Italy will look to break England hearts at Wembley by lifting the European Championship trophy, three years on from failing to qualify for the World Cup.

The twin tales of sporting unlikelihoods will have the attention of a nation that could well be celebrating a dual triumph by the time Bjorn Kuipers blows the final whistle to end the Euros.

Speaking after his four-set semi-final win over Hubert Hurkacz, Berrettini said: "I will tell them to buy a nice TV if they don't have one already because I think it's going to be a special Sunday for all of us.

"It's something crazy to believe for us, obviously let's say tennis, because it's never happened [at Wimbledon]. So it's something that nobody expected, me in the first place.

"Then for football, because I mean, we didn't qualify for the World Cup, so after that the job that they did, how hard they worked, the effort that they put, I think they really deserve this final.

"For Italian people in general, it's going to be tough Sunday, no? But I think we deserve it.

"It's a great day, great sport day. I'm really happy that together with football now [tennis] is one of the biggest sports in Italy."

Novak Djokovic expects Matteo Berrettini to be at his best when he meets the Italian in the Wimbledon final on Sunday.

Djokovic is a win from moving level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal by claiming a record 20th grand slam title.

Standing in his way will be the considerable figure of Berrettini, who overcame Hubert Hurkacz in four sets to reach the final of a major for the first time in his career at the age of 25.

Djokovic was made to work hard to see off Denis Shapovalov in straight sets on Centre Court on Friday.

And he is anticipating another tough battle against one of the form players on tour this year.

Recalling his own maiden appearance in a grand slam final, a defeat to Roger Federer at the 2007 US Open, Djokovic said: "I remember that I was just so thrilled to be in the final.

"I had a good match but I just probably did not believe enough in the victory at certain moments when the scoreline was close.

"I was really young, 20 years old. Matteo is a bit older. He's had more experience playing on the Tour.

"He's already had notable results in the biggest tournaments and some big wins against the top players of the world.

"I expect him to be on really high level because that's what he's been delivering in last couple weeks. He's in great form, serving big and playing big.

"To win a 20th grand slam would mean everything. That's why I'm here, and why I'm playing.

"I imagined myself being in a position to fight for another Grand Slam trophy prior to coming to London.

"I've put myself in a very good position and I'm looking forward to a great battle."

Wimbledon will mark Berrettini's fourth final of the 2021 season, with his recent victory at Queen's Club securing his second title of the year.

Djokovic was the last man to beat Berrettini, who is now 32-6 for the year, doing so in four sets in the French Open quarter-finals.

Yet Djokovic completed that victory after fans had been forced to leave because of a curfew in Paris and he knows a capacity Wimbledon crowd may not be on his side.

"I hope that I will have the stadium on my side. Having the crowd behind you, against you, it's a big difference," he added. 

"People like to see someone win who is an underdog or is not maybe expected to win, is not the favourite. But hopefully people can also recognise also the importance of this match for me, the history that is on the line."

Page 1 of 3
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.