Top seed Novak Djokovic overcame Britain’s Cameron Norrie 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the Wimbledon 2022 men’s singles final, here on Friday.
On a sun-baked Centre Court, the Serbian raised his level as the match went on, breaching the defences of Norrie with his aggressive and precise groundstrokes to advance to his eighth final at The Championships in two hours and 34 minutes. With this win, Djokovic moved closer to his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title and seventh overall.
“I didn’t start off well. He 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 the court,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview.
“You have a lot of pressure and expectations from yourself and others. Cameron didn’t have much to lose, he has been 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,” he added.
The World No. 3 is chasing his 21st Grand Slam title this fortnight as he looks to close the gap on 22-time major champion Rafael Nadal.
The 35-year-old will face Nick Kyrgios in the championship match on Sunday after Spaniard Nadal was forced to withdraw ahead of his semifinal meeting with the Australian. The 27-year-old Kyrgios leads Djokovic 2-0 in their ATP head-to-head series.
“One thing for sure, there is going to be a lot of fireworks emotionally from both of us. It is going to be his first Grand Slam final. He is very excited ‘nd 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,” said Djokovic about the final.
“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 favour,” he added.
Djokovic has now won 27 consecutive matches at Wimbledon, with his victory over the ninth seed Norrie propelling him into his 32nd Grand Slam final, claiming sole ownership of the all-time major finals record ahead of Roger Federer (31). The Serbian also holds an 85-10 record at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, moving clear of Jimmy Connors (84-18) and into second in the all-time list.
In an impressive first set, Norrie showed little sign of nerves as he quickly found his range on Centre Court. The Briton hammered his topspin forehand with accuracy, while he forced Djokovic off balance and into errors with his flat backhand, breaking three times in the first set to lead.
However, Djokovic is used to the big occasion, with this his 11th semifinal at The Championships. The World No. 3 increased his intensity, demonstrated great touch from all areas and started to find his spots on serve as he turned the tables in the second set to level.
The experienced player continued to go on the attack in the third set, capitalising on the reduction in power and depth of Norrie’s groundstrokes to make further inroads. The 35-year-old fired nine winners and committed just four unforced errors in the set. The Serbian then gained a decisive break at the start of the fourth set, before he zoned in on serve to seal the victory.
Djokovic improved to 2-0 in his ATP head-to-head series against Norrie, who was competing in his maiden Grand Slam semifinal. The 26-year-old was the fourth British man to advance to the last four at SW19 in the Open Era, joining two-time champion Andy Murray, Tim Henman and Roger Taylor.
Former World No. 1 Murray remains the only British player to defeat Djokovic at Wimbledon (2013 final), with the Serbian eliminating James Ward, Kyle Edmund, Jack Draper and Norrie in the past six years.
Four-time tour-level titlist Norrie had never been beyond the third round at a Grand Slam before this fortnight. However, the ninth seed produced a series of impressive performances to defeat Pablo Andujar, Jaume Munar, Steve Johnson, Tommy Paul and Goffin on the lawns in London.
(Inputs from IANS)