Rediff.com  » Sports » PIX: Djokovic in 10th Wimbledon semis; takes on Shapovalov

PIX: Djokovic in 10th Wimbledon semis; takes on Shapovalov

Last updated on: July 08, 2021 01:11 IST
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Images from Day 9 of Wimbledon, at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, on Wednesday.

Novak Djokovic

IMAGE: Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his quarter-final against Hungary's Marton Fucsovics on Wednesday, Day 9 of Wimbledon. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

A business-like Novak Djokovic threatened to short-change over 14,000 fans who had forked out 170 pounds ($234) for Wednesday's Centre Court tickets when, after only 19 minutes of action, he stood on the cusp of bagging the first set 6-0.

 

Trailing 0-5 and 15-40 on serve, it seemed like Marton Fucsovics's first foray into a Grand Slam quarter-final would be short and not very sweet.

But somehow the 29-year-old avoided disappearing into a Wimbledon sinkhole for two hours and 17 minutes before Djokovic pushed him over the edge for a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win that secured him a place in the All England Club semi-finals for a 10th time.

Playing in his 50th Grand Slam quarter-final, Djokovic recorded a century of tour-level wins on grass and his 315th victory at a major.

While such numbers might sound impressive, for Djokovic the only statistic that really matters is that his dream of joining Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal on a record 20 Grand Slam titles was still very much alive as was the chance of becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete the calendar slam.

"I am aware of certain stats, I love this sport with all my heart, body and soul have been devoted to it since I was four," said the world number one, who is bidding to win his third consecutive Wimbledon title, and sixth overall.

"Sometimes things do look surreal for me but I try to live in the moment and take every opportunity I have on the court. Going for history is a huge inspiration for me, let's keep it going."

Novak Djokovic

IMAGE: Playing in his 50th Grand Slam quarter-final, Novak Djokovic recorded a century of tour-level wins on grass and his 315th victory at a major. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Fucsovics was also chasing history, which in case was to become the first Hungarian man to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals since Jozsef Asboth in 1948.

As the 29-year-old stared into the abyss of being wiped out in the opening set, a string of sloppy Djokovic errors not only handed Fucsovics a lifeline but he unexpectedly won three games in a row to the delight of the crowd who rapturously applauded the Serb's misfiring shots.

Djokovic finally won the opening set at the sixth attempt -- 23 minutes after holding his first set point -- when the lunging Hungarian mis-hit a forehand long.

Fucsovics produced some gutsy shots to hang in with Djokovic till 4-4 in the second set and even won a lung-busting 27-shot baseline rally that kept the fans on the edge of their seats.

The effort of winning that single point, however, appeared to have sucked the life out of Fucsovics as two points later Djokovic broke for a 5-4 lead.

When Fucsovics banged a service return long to surrender the second set, the prolonged roar from Djokovic signalled that it was game over for the Hungarian.

"It was a solid performance," summed up Djokovic.

"I started extremely well, didn't do many things wrong in the first six games. One break of serve in the second and third set was enough to clinch the victory - credit to Marton for fighting and hanging in there, he had a great tournament."

In his 41st Grand Slam semi-final, the Serbian will meet Canadian 10th seed Denis Shapovalov.

Shapovalov into semis after outlasting Khachanov

IMAGE: Canada's Denis Shapovalov celebrates after winning his quarter-final against Russia's Karen Khachanov. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Canadian Denis Shapovalov produced a storming finish to beat Karen Khachanov in five sets and reach the Wimbledon semi-finals on Wednesday, his deepest run at a Grand Slam tournament.

The quarter-final seemed to be slipping away from the stylish 22-year-old left-hander when he trailed by two sets to one but he hit back to win 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4.

Shapovalov, who put out twice winner Andy Murray in the third round, will play defending champion and top seed Novak Djokovic on Friday when he will bid to become only the second Canadian man to reach a Grand Slam final.

"Obviously, he is the best player in the world but I think anything is possible and when the match starts on Friday the scoreboard will show zero zero," the popular Shapovalov, who will be guaranteed strong support, said on court.

Both 10th seed Shapovalov and 25th seed Khachanov were playing in a Grand Slam quarter-final for only the second time and they delivered a superb contest on a packed No 1 Court.

IMAGE: Denis Shapovalov was rewarded for a fearless display, racking up 59 winners in a victory that could mark the breakthrough for the Canadian which has long been predicted. Photograph: AELTC/Jonathan Nackstrand - Pool/Getty Images

Shapovalov carried the form he showed in a fourth-round hammering of Spaniard Robert Bautista Agut into his second career clash with Khachanov and took the opening set courtesy of a single break of serve in the ninth game.

But rock-solid Khachanov responded to go 4-0 ahead in the second set and although Shapovalov re-focused it was too late to save the set. Khachanov then pounced on a Shapovalov lapse to break serve at 5-5 in the third set, holding his own serve in the next game to move to within one set of victory.

Shapovalov hit a purple patch to dominate the fourth set and as the match went into the decider the 25-year-old Khachanov seemed to be feeling the pace after also going the distance in his previous match against American Sebastian Korda.

He hung on grimly, scrambling out of a hole when he fell 0-40 down on serve at 2-2. But Shapovalov piled on the pressure again at 4-4 and saw three more break points go begging before Khachanov sent a tired-looking forehand long on a fourth.

Serving for the biggest win of his career, Shapovalov overcame a nervy double-fault and brought up two match points with a fizzing forehand winner, before sealing victory when Khachanov dumped a backhand into the net.

Shapovalov was rewarded for a fearless display, racking up 59 winners in a victory that could mark the breakthrough for the Canadian which has long been predicted.

Berrettini powers past Aliassime into semis

Italy's Matteo Berrettini celebrates victory over Canada's Felix Auger Aliassime in the quarter-finals.

IMAGE: Italy's Matteo Berrettini celebrates victory over Canada's Felix Auger Aliassime in the quarter-finals. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Matteo Berrettini became only the second Italian man to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals after powering past Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3.

The big-serving seventh seed has flown somewhat under the radar throughout the Championships, but is now eyeing a place in Sunday's final after an impressive display.

In truth, the 25-year-old could have claimed a fourth successive straight-sets win but for an impressive counter-attack by 20-year-old Auger-Aliassime in the second set.

But his mighty first serve, scorching the No.1 Court turf at an average of 127mph, and a thunderous forehand eventually helped Berrettini overwhelm the Canadian 16th seed.

In his second Grand Slam semi-final, following a run to the last four at the 2019 U.S. Open, Berrettini will face Poland's Hubert Hurkacz, who took out eight-times champion Roger Federer.

Victory would see him contest the Wimbledon final on the same day that Italy play in the Euro 2020 soccer final a few miles down the road at Wembley.

The only other Italian man to reach the last four at Wimbledon was Nicola Pietrangeli in 1960.

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