Novak Djokovic reached his sixth Wimbledon final on Friday, defeating Italian Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 on Centre Court.
Djokovic targeted a record-equaling eighth All England Club title and a Grand Slam record 35th, setting up a potential blockbuster championship battle with Carlos Alcaraz.
Djokovic’s victory was marred by controversy when he was penalized for hindrance and cautioned for slow play in the same game during the second set.
Later Friday, world number one Alcaraz will meet erratic Daniil Medvedev in a bid to reach his first Wimbledon final.
Djokovic, who was playing in his 12th Wimbledon semi-final, fought off three break points in the first set and only needed one of his own in the second game to take the opener.
On the eve of the semi-final, the 36-year-old Serb declared himself favourite for the trophy, and he followed it up with another break of the Italian for a 2-1 lead in the second set.
Djokovic, the seven-time champion, took a 3-1 lead in the fourth game.
He was first penalized a point for hindering after a loud grunt preceded a down the line backhand.
After that, umpire Richard Haigh issued 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.”
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Despite the double blow, he won the set with his eighth ace of the match against a man who took a two-set lead against him in the quarterfinals last year before the champion won in five.
Djokovic blew three break points in the third set’s third game, then saved two set points in the tenth game.
Djokovic turned on his tormentors in the crowd, who were noisily supporting Sinner, by feigning faux tears after shattered their hopes for Sinner’s breakthrough.
He then dominated the tie-break to win and get closer to Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam championships.
Djokovic was the semi-finals’ senior citizen, nine years older than Medvedev, 15 years older than Sinner, and 16 years older than Alcaraz.
— With additional input from AFP