Photo : Martin Sidorjak
After beating Karen Khachanov of Russia on Wednesday, Denis Shapovalov became the second Canadian man to reach a semi-final at a major in the open era. Unfortunately, his historical run came to an end on Friday, as he couldn’t get past the two-time defending Wimbledon champion, Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic cruised through his quarter-final match against Márton Fucsovics of Hungary, and despite today’s score, had a much tougher semi-final match against Shapovalov on Centre Court. The Serb defeated the Canadian 7-6(3), 7-5, 7-5, and advanced to his seventh Wimbledon final.
The World No. 1 will look to clinch a 20th Grand Slam title on Sunday, which would place him in a three-way tie for first with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Shapovalov was off to a dream start in today’s contest against the World No. 1.
In the third game, on Djokovic’s serve, Shapovalov crushed a forehand down the right side to set up double break points. Djokovic managed to save both, but double faulted at deuce to give the Canadian another chance. This time, Shapovalov made no mistake and broke his opponent after a long-fought rally.
Shapovalov outplayed Djokovic for most of the first set and even had a chance to serve it out in the 10th. However, while Djokovic was defenseless at one side of the court, an untimely miss from Shapovalov at 30-30 gave Djokovic a chance to even things out – which he did.
In the tiebreak, Shapovalov grabbed the first mini-break, but, Djokovic was able to convert on the next two. It seemed like the servers were at a disadvantage in this one, winning only 2/10 service points, both won by Djokovic to win the tiebreak.
After warming up his arm in the opening set, Shapovalov was dialed on his serves in the second. He kept 76 percent of his first serves in play and won 86 percent of those serves. Through two sets, he had seven holds to love, an outrageous statistic, let alone against the World No. 1.
However, late-set jitters got to the 22-year-old once again when he lost his serve in the 11th game and gave Djokovic a chance to serve out the second set. Unfazed, the 19-time Grand Slam winner closed it out and took a 2-0 set lead.
The roles were reversed in the third set, as Shapovalov started to look shaky in the service department while Djokovic was cruising through his service games. The Canadian had to face seven break points compared to a meager three in the first two sets.
Things looked bleak in the seventh game, but Shapovalov came through with a massive cross-court backhand to save the break and to keep his hopes alive.
Shapovalov couldn’t quite keep his level of play up to par late in the set and once again dropped his serve in the 11th game.
Djokovic served for the match and held to love to punch his ticket to the Wimbledon finals.
Experience prevailed over youth, as Djokovic converted 3/10 break points compared to Shapovalov’s 1/11. Winning the clutch points was the difference maker in today’s battle.
Still, it was a remarkable two weeks from the young Canadian who beat the likes of Andy Murray and Roberto Bautista Agut on his journey to his first Grand Slam semi-final.
Djokovic will now face Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the finals on Sunday.