Djokovic Moves Within One Win Of Fourth Straight Wimbledon Crown

Novak Djokovic (photo: Jürgen Hasenkopf)

WIMBLEDON/WASHINGTON, July 8, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Novak Djokovic has reached another men’s singles final at the Wimbledon Championships, a tournament he loves so much.

After the top-seeded Serbian moved to within one win of garnering his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title and seventh crown overall Friday afternoon on a sunbaked Centre Court, Djokovic quipped during his on-court interview that he hopes his vast experience can work in his favor when he plays Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in Sunday’s men’s singles final.

Djokovic, 35, raised the level of his game as his semifinal against No. 9 seed Cameron Norrie of Great Britain went on. After dropping the opening set, he became more aggressive and his pin-point ground strokes began to translate into winners and eventually into games won.

After two hours and 34 minutes, Djokovic got the best of Norrie and won, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, to advance to Sunday’s showdown with Kyrgios, in what will be his eighth Wimbledon final. He has now won 26 straight matches at the All England Club.

It was Djokovic’s second straight win over Norrie, who was playing in his first major semifinal. The World No. 3 hit 13 aces and finished with 38 winners to 28 unforced errors. Djokovic broke Norrie’s serve five times in 14 tries and outpointed the Briton 113-89. Norrie countered with 33 winners but also committed 36 unforced errors.

The victory kept Djokovic’s hopes alive of capturing a 21st career major title, that would move him ahead of Roger Federer and to within one of Rafael Nadal, who withdrew from The Championships Thursday evening due to an abdominal tear. Nadal is the career leader with 23 Grand Slam titles. He had won the first two majors of the 2022 season, at the Australian Open and the French Open, and had moved to within two wins of adding this year’s Wimbledon to his treasure chest of titles.

During his on-court interview with the BBC‘s Rishi Persad, Djokovic said he didn’t start off well against the 26-year-old Norrie, admitting that the British No. 1 was the better player for the first set.

“I have had many semifinals at Grand Slams before, but it is never easy walking out onto court,” Djokovic said. “You have a lot of pressure and expectation from yourself and others. Cameron didn’t have much to lose, he is playing the tournament of his life.

“Playing at home is never easy, but I wish him all the best. He is a great player and I have a lot of respect for him.”

Looking ahead, Kyrgios leads Djokovic 2-0 in their career head-to-head. He said he looks forward to the challenge of playing the 27-year-old mercurial Aussie.

“One thing for sure, there is going to be a lot of fireworks emotionally from both of us,” Djokovic admitted. “It is going to be. His first Grand Slam final. He is very excited and he doesn’t have much to lose and he is always playing like that.

“He is playing so freely, one of the biggest serves in the game. Just a big game overall, a lot of power in his shots. We haven’t played for some time. I have never won a set off him. Hopefully, it can be different this time.

“It is another final here at Wimbledon, at a tournament I love so much. Hopefully, the experience can work in my favor.”

Around the All England Club

Women’s doubles No. 1 seeds Elise Mertens of Belgium and Zhang Shuai of China have reached the title match after defeating American duo Danielle Collins and Desirae Krawczyk, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, on Centre Court Friday evening.

On Sunday afternoon, Mertens and Zhang will face the No. 2 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, both of the Czech Republic, who won the 2018 Wimbledon title. The Czech pair defeated No. 4 seeds Lydmyla Kichenok of Ukraine and Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, 6-2, 6-2, in the first semifinal Friday afternoon on Centre Court.

Friday’s Wimbledon results

Saturday’s Wimbledon order of play

By the numbers

With his semifinal victory that advanced him to Sunday’s Wimbledon title match, Novak Djokovic has surpassed Roger Federer for the most Grand Slam men’s singles final appearances with 32 (20 wins 11 losses). The rest of the top five: Federer 31 (20-11), Rafael Nadal 30 (22-8), Ivan Lendl 19 (8-11) and Pete Sampras 18 (14-4).

“Quotable …”

“It’s not the way I wanted to get to the final. As a competitor, I really did want that match. It was obviously something that as soon as I beat Garin, Rafa was a high possibility, someone I’ve had so many good battles with before. We’ve both taken a win against each other at this tournament. I really did want to see how the third chapter was going to go.

“Obviously, you never want to see someone like that, so important to the sport, go down with an injury like that. He’s just played so much tennis. He’s had a grueling season. I just hope he recovers. I’m sure I’ll play him again on a big stage.”

– World No. 40 Nick Kyrgios of Australian, during his Friday news conference after receiving a walk over into Sunday’s men’s final due to the withdrawal of two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal.