In a fantasy Wimbledon final, Novak Djokovic will face Carlos Alcaraz.

In a fantasy Wimbledon final, Novak Djokovic will face Carlos Alcaraz.

This was the decisive time. If Novak Djokovic is to be stopped in the Wimbledon semifinals, if his much younger and harder-hitting opponent, Jannik Sinner, is to turn things around on Friday, the massive comeback must begin immediately.

Djokovic was well aware of the situation. Sinner was well aware of it. It was obvious to the 15,000 or so Centre Court spectators.

Djokovic trailed 5-4 in the third set after winning the first two, and a flubbed forehand made the game score 15-40 as he served. Sinner has two opportunities to ultimately break. He has two opportunities to truly take a set. Djokovic made a mistake, which attracted applause from the crowd. Djokovic sarcastically applauded the noisemakers with his racket and the ball, then flashed a thumbs-up.

He can back up any boasting. Djokovic has just not lost at the All England Club in recent years. Or, for that matter, at any Grand Slam competition. So he calmly gathered the following four points to win the game, then mockingly pretended to wipe away a tear in front of the spectators. The match was finished in 20 minutes, as Djokovic’s 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) triumph against Sinner let him to move closer on a record-tying eighth Wimbledon championship and sixth in a consecutive.

“The third set could have gone his way,” said Djokovic, who will compete for the championship on Sunday against No. 1 ranked Carlos Alcaraz. “It was really, really just a lot of pressure.”

Alcaraz used all of his abilities, including winning 17 of 20 games while serving and volleying, in defeating No. 3-ranked Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 on Friday to advance to his first major final on grass.

While Djokovic, 36, of Serbia, pursues his 24th Grand Slam singles title, Alcaraz, 20, of Spain, wants his second after winning the US Open in September.

“What else can I say? “Everyone knows what a legend he is,” Alcaraz remarked of Djokovic. “It’s going to be extremely difficult.” But I’m going to fight. I’m going to believe in myself, and I’m going to think that I can defeat him here.”

Since 2017, no one has beaten Djokovic at Wimbledon. And no one has beaten him on Centre Court since 2013.

To reach his seventh final at the All England Club, Djokovic frequently served himself out of danger against Sinner, saving all six break chances he faced. It’s also his 35th Grand Slam final, more than any other man or woman in tennis history.

As good as he is as a returner and as good as his defence is (he would run, lean, and stretch to get to a ball that stretched a point until Sinner made a mistake), Djokovic has a serve that may be the area of his game that has developed the most during his career.

That was evident on Friday, as it has been for the last two weeks: Djokovic has won 100 of his 103 service games and saved 16 of 19 break points in his half-dozen tournament outings.

“He was playing very well under pressure.” Sinner said, “Nothing is missing.” “That’s him.”

The 21-year age difference between Djokovic and Sinner was the greatest between Wimbledon men’s semifinalists since the Open era started in 1968. Djokovic would be the oldest Wimbledon winner since professionals were initially permitted to participate that year.

“I feel like 36 is the new 26, I guess,” Djokovic added. “It feels really good.”

Sinner is the one who hammered serves at high to 132 mph and slammed one mistake with such power that it seemed as though he could have damaged the speed readout board in a corner of the stadium. More concerning for Sinner: it was followed by another error in a service game he lost, leaving him behind 2-1 in the second set.

In reality, as skilled as Sinner is, he did not aggravate Djokovic any more than chair umpire Richard Haigh did.

In one game in which Djokovic faced – and erased – a break point, he fought futilely after forfeiting a point when Haigh penalised him for hindering for yelling while the ball was still in play. Soon after, Haigh warned Djokovic for letting the serve clock run out.

“It was a stressful game for me to survive and storm through.” “It was crucial,” said Djokovic, who saw a video and believed the hindrance ruling was erroneous. He said that Haigh needed to “recognise the moment a little bit more” before giving the time warning. “Fortunately for me, I remained calm.”

Indeed, Djokovic did, extending his ambition to become the only man to have won eight singles titles at Wimbledon, joining Roger Federer. Martina Navratilova won the women’s singles title nine times.

Djokovic won his 22nd major championship at the Australian Open in January, and his 23rd at the French Open in June (his Wimbledon shoes have a little “23” imprinted on the side) after defeating Alcaraz in the quarterfinals.

If Djokovic wins on Sunday, he will compete in the US Open in August for the first calendar-year Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.

The turf was sticky and slippery during Djokovic vs. Sinner since the main stadium’s retractable roof was closed due to rain outside. Sinner fell on the first point, and Djokovic on the third. And that continued occurring to both of them. They hit the bottoms of their shoes with their rackets repeatedly to attempt to get the grass and dirt out.

Taking against Djokovic was a considerable increase in Sinner’s level of competitiveness. Until Friday, he had not only not faced a single seeded player, but he had also played opponents ranked 79th, 85th, 98th, and 111th.

No one has spent more weeks at No. 1 in the half-century history of computerised tennis rankings (men’s and women’s) than Djokovic, who is presently No. 2. However, that figure does not accurately represent his current condition.

This was Djokovic’s 46th major semifinal and Sinner’s first, and it appeared clear at key moments.

Sinner came close to reaching that point a year ago at the All England Club, when he seized a two-set lead over Djokovic in the semifinals before losing in five sets.

This afternoon, such kind of labour was not necessary. Djokovic never let it go that far.

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