Novak Djokovic ends Cameron Norrie's dream run to stay on course for his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title and become the fourth man in the Open Era to record a streak of four straight wins here after Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg
Saturday 9 July 2022 07:05, UK
Defending champion Novak Djokovic ended the Wimbledon dreams of Britain's Cameron Norrie to reach Sunday's final where he will be aiming to win a seventh title when he takes on Nick Kyrgios.
Norrie, who was bidding to join Andy Murray as the second British man in the Open Era to reach the Wimbledon final, made the perfect start by steamrolling Djokovic to win the first set.
But Djokovic showed why he has not lost a match on Centre Court in nine years by hitting back to win 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 and remain on course for his fourth consecutive title at the All England Club.
"I didn't start off well and he was the better player for the first set," said Djokovic. "In a Grand Slam semi-final, there's always lots of pressure and expectation, Cameron didn't have much to lose and he was playing the tournament of his life.
"I got a lucky break at 4-3, he kind of gifted me that game, and then the momentum shifted a little bit."
In extending his run of successive grass-court victories to 27, six-time Wimbledon champion Djokovic becomes the first man to reach 32 Grand Slam finals, while he has only lost one of his last 19 Slam semi-finals.
Norrie will undoubtedly be disappointed he could not make a first major final but the ninth seed has shown he fully belongs with the world's best and that he can have more chances in the future.
"It was tough. Obviously a big situation for me. Yeah, it was a tough, tough match," said Norrie. "Obviously [I] started pretty well. He was a little bit nervous from what I could see.
"He managed to draw up his arrows and really play solid the last three sets and he made it difficult for me."
Djokovic has won at least one Grand Slam title - and more often than not two or three - each year since 2010 barring 2017, when he was dogged by elbow problems.
He arrived at Wimbledon, though, knowing this was likely to be his final chance of the season with a Covid-19 vaccination certificate still a requirement of entry into the United States.
This was therefore a huge match despite all the Serb's experience, and it was certainly he who seemed the more nervous in the early stages.
A huge roar erupted when Norrie, who had taken just three games in their only previous meeting last year, won the first point against serve, and the British No 1 greeted his opening break with a leaping pump of the fist on the biggest day in the 26-year-old's career.
Djokovic did not react in anything like the same way when he immediately retrieved the break but the top seed was unable to settle, his normally watertight groundstrokes flying long or into the net.
|82%||1st serve win percentage||71%|
|58%||2nd serve win percentage||41%|
|5/14||Break points won||3/4|
|113||Total points won||89|
Norrie has been unflappable throughout this run, embracing his suddenly elevated profile rather than feeling cowed by home pressure, and he was certainly rising to the occasion on the biggest stage of all.
He made sure he took advantage of Djokovic's nerves, using his unusually flat double-handed backhand to rush his opponent while landing several blows with his heavy forehand.
The crowd were in disbelief as Norrie won five games in a row to clinch the opening set but the early signs in the second were that Djokovic had steadied.
The pressure was growing as Norrie saved break points in the fourth and sixth games and a volley missed from right on top of the net at 3-4 was the momentary lapse that Djokovic needed to seize the initiative.
Unlike Jannik Sinner, who led Djokovic by two sets to love in the quarter-final, Norrie does not possess a big weapon and, with the defending champion now purring from the baseline, it was difficult for the Briton to find a chink of light.
He was being pushed well behind the baseline and the sort of errors he simply could not afford to make were creeping in.
Another break of serve to start the fourth set put Djokovic a step closer and, although Norrie fought manfully to stay in touch, earning huge applause when he saved four break points in the fifth game, the Serb's serve kept him out of reach.
Roger Federer 12 (8-4)
Novak Djokovic 8 (6-1)
Pete Sampras 7 (7-0)
Boris Becker 7 (3-4)
Arthur Gore 7 (3-4)
After a final unreturnable serve on match point, Djokovic turned towards a section of spectators who had been calling out and let fly with a verbal volley, earning a chorus of boos, before celebrating reaching another final here.
Australian Kyrgios, handed a walkover to Sunday's final by injured Spaniard Rafael Nadal, now stands between the 35-year-old Djokovic and a 21st Grand Slam title.
"The job is not finished," added Djokovic. "One thing is for sure there are going to be a lot of fireworks emotionally from both of us. I've never won a set off him. Hopefully it can be different this time."
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