Djokovic sets up date with SA’s marathon man Kevin

Sunday Times - - Sport Cricket/tennis -

● No­vak Djokovic reached his fifth Wim­ble­don fi­nal yes­ter­day with a 6-4 3-6 7-6 (11/9) 3-6 10-8 vic­tory over Rafael Nadal in the sec­ond long­est semi­fi­nal yet played at the tour­na­ment.

Djokovic, the 2011, 2014 and 2015 cham­pion, will face Kevin An­der­son, the first South African in the fi­nal in 97 years, for the ti­tle af­ter a five-hour 15-minute marathon.

Vic­tory to­day for the 31-year-old Serb would take his ca­reer grand slam tally to 13, four be­hind Nadal but still seven be­hind Roger Fed­erer.

It was a sec­ond day of epic drama at the All Eng­land Club af­ter An­der­son had needed six hours and 36 min­utes to beat John Is­ner on Fri­day.

That set the record for the long­est semi­fi­nal at the tour­na­ment and be­came the sec­ond-long­est grand slam sin­gles match yet.

It also meant that Djokovic and Nadal were un­able to fin­ish their 52nd ca­reer clash on Fri­day night.

Yes­ter­day’s drama de­layed the start of the women’s fi­nal be­tween Ser­ena Wil­liams and An­gelique Ker­ber.

“It’s hard to pick the words. I’m just go­ing through things, flash­backs to the last 15 months, ev­ery­thing I’ve been through to get here,” said world No 21 Djokovic, the low­est ranked fi­nal­ist in 15 years.

“To win against the best player in the world, in one of the long­est matches I ever played, I’m just over­whelmed.

“It’s very spe­cial. It re­ally could have gone ei­ther way. It was clear very few things sep­a­rated us.” Djokovic fin­ished with 23 aces and 73 win­ners and tri­umphed de­spite only con­vert­ing four of 19 break­points. “Un­til the last shot I didn’t know if I would win. These are matches you live for and work for.”

For­mer world No 1 Djokovic has a 5-1 ca­reer lead over No 8 seed An­der­son.

The South African won his only match against the Serb in 2008 while Djokovic has beaten him twice at Wim­ble­don.

“Hope­fully we can first of all play!” Djokovic said of his fel­low marathon man.

An­der­son, who knocked out Fed­erer in the quar­ter­fi­nals, has been on court for 21 hours at the tour­na­ment.

“He had a day off which means a lot. I wish I could have one, but it is what it is,” Djokovic said.

“I’m in the fi­nal of Wim­ble­don. That’s an in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment.” Djokovic had been in con­trol on Fri­day, lead­ing two sets to one when the match was halted due to the 11pm (mid­night SA time) cur­few.

Play in their 52nd ca­reer meet­ing re­sumed un­der the roof yes­ter­day de­spite bright blue skies and tem­per­a­tures push­ing 30ºC — AFP.

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