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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday July 9, 2021

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic topped Denis Shapovalov in three sets to reach his third consecutive Wimbledon final.

Photo Source: Getty

Novak Djokovic’s quest for the Calendar Slam continued on Friday at Wimbledon as the World No.1 and 19-time Grand Slam champion produced a gritty, resilient effort to defeat Canada’s Denis Shapovalov, the No.12 seed, 7-6(3), 7-5, 7-5.

Tennis Express

In turn, Djokovic reaches his seventh career Wimbledon final, improves to 16-1 in his last 17 Grand Slam semifinals, and boosts his quest for the Calendar Slam—Djokovic has now won all 20 Grand Slam matches he has played in 2021, and he will face Italy’s Matteo Berrettini for the title on Sunday.

With a win, Djokovic can tie Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the all-time Grand Slam singles titles list with 20, as well as becoming the first man to win the first three major titles of the year since the great Rod Laver in 1969.

The Serb was pushed early and often by Shapovalov, but never broke down. The 22-year-old was playing in his first Grand Slam semifinal and it was certainly no fluke that he progressed that far. Shapovalov has been one of the most explosive prospects in men’s tennis for several years, but this Wimbledon was his coming out party on the grass.

The 2016 Wimbledon Boys champion had won just match at SW19 prior to this season, but he quickly asserted himself on the grass this year, relishing in the Centre Court experience as he snuffed two-time Champion Andy Murray’s bid to reach the second week, then moving past two tried-and-true veterans in No.8-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut and No.25-seeded Karen Khachanov to book a date with the World No.1 in the semis.

Shapovalov played brilliantly in patches on Friday, but always it was Djokovic who had the answers to the most difficult questions.

The Serb rallied from a set down to snag the opener in a tiebreak, then snagged a break on a Shapovalov double-fault to earn a chance to serve for the second set.

"In important moments I think I probably held my nerves better than he did and just make him play an extra shot, make him do an unforced error, which was the case," Djokovic said. "It's tough to play Denis, particularly on grass and quicker surfaces with the lefty serve that he's got. He can hit any spot. I think he's one of the best serves on the tour, without a doubt. When he's on, when he's feeling that serve, it's a weapon on any surface against anyone.

"I think he has matured as a player. I feel like he's probably taking down the number of the unforced errors comparing to maybe last year. I feel like he's always been a very aggressive player, trying to make winners, come to the net, dictate the play from the back of the court. But I feel like now he's probably a bit more patient in his game. He's understanding how to construct the point. Unfortunately for him that was maybe lacking in important moments. I just managed to force him to do an error, just play the right shots at the right time."

After taking set two, Djokovic was frustrated early in the third set by Shapovalov, but he bided his time and converted his seventh break point of the set to snag another 11th-game break.

He held to love to reach his 30th Grand Slam final.

After the match, an emotional Shapovalov lamented his missed chances as he started to decompress from an exhilarating run.

An hour earlier he had bid farewell to Centre Court to a hearty applause as tears rolled down his cheek.

He’s both energized by his performance and disappointed with his loss to Djokovic.

"I think what hurt so much this time was just that I felt like the game is there and it's possible to go and play for the trophy,” he said. “It's a feeling I've never had before, so that's why it just hurt so much. I felt like I was outplaying Novak in parts of the match. If you're outplaying Novak, you can beat anyone.”

More to follow….


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