Novak Djokovic has shown that age is just a number, as he is only one match away from tying the record for the most Wimbledon titles won. He defeated Italy’s Jannik Sinner in three sets, with a final score of 6-3, 6-4, 7-6, in the first men’s semifinal on Friday.
The 36-year-old’s win secured their spot in the record-breaking 35th grand slam final, surpassing Chris Evert’s previous record. They will now be facing Carlos Alcaraz in the final on Sunday.
Djokovic is expected to easily win his 24th grand slam title against Alcaraz, particularly since he has already claimed victory at the Australian Open and French Open in 2023.
The Serb has lost one just one Wimbledon final he’s reached – that was 10 years ago when he was beaten by Andy Murray.
‘I love it’
As a natural performer, Djokovic engaged in a playful exchange with a spectator who had cheered when he missed a crucial first serve in the third set. Despite the pressure, Djokovic managed to hold serve and then playfully mimicked wiping tears from his eyes in response to the fan.
During his first appearance in the last four of a grand slam, Sinner gave his all on the court but was overpowered by Djokovic’s unwavering skill and determination.
At just 21 years old, this tennis player is recognized as one of the most promising young talents. It’s likely that they will return to the grand slam stage in the near future, but for now, the veteran player remains dominant at SW19.
In his on-court interview, Djokovic graciously acknowledged that the semifinals were highly anticipated and filled with tension, just as expected. He noted that the three sets were extremely tight, and although the score may not reflect it, the match was a very close one.
“That third set could have potentially been won by him, as he had a 15-40 advantage on 5-4… However, he missed a few shots, allowing me to catch up and enter the tie-break. The third set was intense, and I had opportunities early on, but he showed why he is a prominent figure in the up-and-coming generation and one of the top players in the world.”
Djokovic playfully stated that he is thrilled to be a part of this new generation.
Rare hindrance call
Sinner showed promising signs early on, earning a break point in Djokovic’s first service game. However, he was unable to capitalize on it. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse when Sinner’s serve was broken in his own first service game, allowing Djokovic to take control of the first set.
Sinner had three opportunities to break Djokovic’s serve in the first set, but was not able to take advantage of any of them. However, Djokovic successfully converted his one chance to secure the break.
The following set followed a similar pattern, with Sinner being broken early on and appearing dejected after playing a careless game of tennis.
During the second set, umpire Richard Haigh made a strange decision by calling a hindrance on Djokovic and awarding the point to Sinner. This occurred after Djokovic let out a delayed grunt while hitting a backhand.
Djokovic stated that the interruption in the match earlier today may have had a significant impact on its outcome.
After receiving a call from the chair umpire, I was filled with anxiety. However, I was able to compose myself and it was likely the first instance in my career where I experienced something like this.
“I usually don’t make prolonged grunts, perhaps it was just an echo from the ceiling. I didn’t think I was being a nuisance, but it was a call and I had to comply with it.”
Afterwards, Haigh penalized Djokovic for a time violation during his serve. While this was undoubtedly the right call, it only added to the annoyance of both Djokovic and the audience.
Djokovic remained unfazed by the umpire’s calls and successfully held his serve, eventually securing a dominant two-set advantage.
Sinner deserves much praise for persisting and fighting hard until the end of the third set. He pumped his fist towards his team’s box after every powerful winner, including one that reached a speed of 100 miles per hour on the speed gun.
The young player was currently showcasing his top performance in the game, and as a result, he earned the opportunity to win the third set through a tie-break.
There was no doubt that Djokovic would emerge victorious, as he once again raised his level to secure the tie-break and ultimately win the match.
Despite being 36 years old, which is considered old in the world of tennis, Djokovic claims that he may be playing some of his best tennis yet.
“I want to trust that is true,” he stated. “As athletes in an individual sport, we must depend on ourselves and ensure we are in optimal physical, mental, and emotional condition before stepping onto the court.”
I attempted to not see my age as an obstacle that could affect my performance on the court. I believe that at 36, I still have the energy and ability of a 26-year-old, and it feels great.
I am highly motivated and driven to play the sport of tennis that I am truly passionate about. This sport has brought me so many opportunities and I am forever grateful. Therefore, I will strive to reciprocate and play as often as I can.
Alcaraz secured his spot in the Wimbledon final by defeating Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals with a commanding straight sets win of 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.
Alcaraz quickly took a commanding two-set advantage with powerful shots and skillful drop shots. Despite Medvedev’s determination and display of skill in the final set, the world’s top-ranked player secured his spot in the final of the renowned tournament with his signature precise forehand.