Latest: Djokovic reaches ninth Wimbledon final
NBS Webdesk

Serbia´s Novak Djokovic serves the ball to Italy´s Jannik Sinner during their men´s singles semi-finals tennis match on the twelfth day of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London. — AFP 

Novak Djokovic reached his ninth Wimbledon final after beating Italian Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 on Centre Court in Friday’s first men’s semifinal.

Djokovic, chased a record-equalling eighth title at the All England Club and reached record 35th at the Grand Slams, setting up a potential blockbuster championship showdown with Carlos Alcaraz.

Victory came tinged with controversy when Djokovic was penalised for hindrance and warned for slow play in the same game during the second set.

World number one Alcaraz faces mercurial Daniil Medvedev later Friday as the 20-year-old US Open winner eyes a place in his first Wimbledon final.

Djokovic, playing in his 12th Wimbledon semi-final, fought off three break points in the first set while only needing one of his own in the second game to secure the opener.

The 36-year-old Serb had declared himself favourite for the title on the eve of the semi-final and he backed up that confidence with another break of the Italian for a 2-1 lead in the second set.

Seven-time champion Djokovic stretched to a 3-1 lead in a bizarre fourth game.

Firstly, he was docked a point for hindrance following a loud grunt which accompanied a down the line backhand.

Umpire Richard Haigh then handed him a code violation for taking too long between points.

“The hindrance early on in the match could have changed the course of the match. I felt nervous after that call, but I managed to re-group,” said Djokovic, the first player, man or woman, to reach 35 finals at the Slams.

“It´s probably the first time it´s happened to me, I don´t normally have extended grunts. Maybe it was an echo in the roof. It was a call that I have to respect.”

Despite that double blow, Djokovic still claimed the set courtesy of his seventh ace of the contest against a player who took a two-sets lead against him in the quarter-finals last year before the champion pulled through in five.

Djokovic squandered three break points in the third game of the third set, then saved two set points in the 10th game.

Djokovic turned on his tormentors in the crowd, who were loudly supporting Sinner, by feigning mock tears after he dashed their hopes of a breakthrough for the Italian.

He then dominated the tie-break to rack up victory and close in on Margaret Court´s all-time mark of 24 Grand Slam titles.

Djokovic was very much the senior citizen of the semi-finals — nine years older than Medvedev, 15 years the senior of Sinner and with a 16-year head-start on Alcaraz.

— With additional input from AFP

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