Novak Djokovic defeated heroic Juan Martin del Potro 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-7 (6/8), 6-3 yesterday in the longest Wimbledon semi-final in history to move into his 11th Grand Slam title match.
In a titanic struggle played out over four hours and 43 minutes, world number one Djokovic squandered two match points in the fourth set tiebreak before going on to seal a place in the final.
Djokovic, bidding for a seventh Grand Slam crown, fired 22 aces and 80 winners in his breathtaking win over the luckless Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, who had been hoping to become just the second Argentine to make the Wimbledon final.
“It was one of the best matches I’ve been part of, certainly one of the most exciting. It was so close and nothing could separate us,” said Djokovic.
“But that’s why he is a grand slam champion, every time he was in a tough situation he came up with unbelievable shots.
“I’m very proud to go through. I was ready to go five sets. I was able to stay tough and get through in the end.”
Del Potro, who had defeated the Serb for the Olympic bronze medal at Wimbledon last year, had matched Djokovic blow for blow in the first set but had to bat back a break point in the sixth game to stay on level terms.
Djokovic broke in the 12th game of the first set to win it 7-5 but former US Open winner Del Potro took the Serbian’s serve midway through the second set and levelled the match on a baking Centre Court.
Del Potro saved three set points at 5-6 in the third but Djokovic stepped up his level to romp through the tiebreak 7-2.
The top seed struck again with a break in the seventh game of the fourth set but Del Potro broke straight back and saved two match points in an incredible tiebreak before taking it 8-6.
Djokovic broke again to lead 5-3 in the deciding set and he recovered from 0-30 down to seal victory with a searing backhand down the line.
Lisicki eyes dream end to Wimbledon fairytale
In the women’s draw, Germany’s Sabine Lisicki admitted winning the Wimbledon final against Marion Bartoli today would be the perfect way to cap her remarkable recovery from a devastating injury that threatened to ruin her career.
The 23-year-old German’s joyful celebration at the conclusion of Thursday’s dramatic 6-4, 2-6, 9-7 win over Polish fourth-seed Agnieszka Radwanska was a far cry from the dark days of 2010 when she was on crutches for months after sustaining a serious left ankle injury at Indian Wells.
“I always believed, always. No matter what happened,” she said. “I’ve been dreaming about winning Wimbledon since I was a little girl. I just can’t wait to play.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2013.
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