Through to the final: Steely Djokovic survives sloppy start in Wimbledon

Top seed knocks out gutsy Gasquet in hard-fought straight sets


Afp July 10, 2015
For the first time, Djokovic has made the Wimbledon, Australian and French Open finals in the same year. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON: Defending champion Novak Djokovic swept into his fourth Wimbledon final with a ruthlessly efficient 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 6-4 victory over Richard Gasquet on Friday.

Djokovic, the world number one, survived an unusually sloppy start and eventually dismissed the French 21st seed with 12 aces and 46 winners in two hours and 20 minutes on Centre Court.

The 28-year-old will go for his third All England Club title, and his ninth at the majors, when he faces either seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer or world number three Andy Murray in Sunday’s final.

Djokovic defeated Federer in last year’s final and lost to Murray in the 2013 showpiece.

“It was a very good performance considering the occasion. Semi-finals are always tough and things could have gone his way in the first set. That was the turning point,” said Djokovic after booking his 17th Grand Slam final berth.

Djokovic played down concerns about a left shoulder injury that twice needed treatment and insisted he would be ready for the final. “It’s nothing that worries me honestly. It will be fine for the next match,” he said. “I have a responsibility to play well here in the cradle of tennis. It is an honour to play in the Wimbledon final — the most watched tennis match in the world.

Gasquet’s surprise run had brought him back to the Wimbledon last four for the first time since 2007.

The 29-year-old, who was bidding for a first major final, caused one of the bigger upsets in this year’s tournament when he knocked out Wawrinka in quarter-finals.

But Djokovic had won 11 of his 12 previous meetings with Gasquet and, despite the Frenchman’s strong showing, the top seed would eventually cruise to victory number 12.

Serena shrugs off pressure as history beckons

Serena Williams insists she doesn’t care about making history even though the world number one can add more lustre to her legacy with victory over Garbine Muguruza in Saturday’s Wimbledon final.

As if winning the sixth Wimbledon title and 21st major of her career wouldn’t be enough to underline Serena’s credentials as one of the all-time greats, she has a slew of other milestones within reach in her 25th Grand Slam final.

After demolishing Maria Sharapova to move into her eighth Wimbledon final, Serena, who has a remarkable 38-1 record in 2015, is just one victory away from holding all four major titles at the same time — a rare feat she last achieved in 2002-03.

A win over surprise finalist Muguruza would also make the 33-year-old American the first woman to land the French Open and Wimbledon back-to-back since she last achieved the double in 2002.

Perhaps most significantly, lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish for the first time since 2012 would leave Serena needing only to defend the US Open to become the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to claim a calendar Grand Slam.

But rather than dwell on those legacy-defining possibilities, Williams made it clear the only reason she is in such a privileged position is because she no longer frets about her place in the pantheon of tennis greats.

“I don’t want the pressure of that. It’s been okay just to free my brain,” she said. “I’ve won so many Grand Slam titles. I’m at a position where I don’t need to win another Wimbledon. I could lose on Saturday. Sure, I won’t be happy. But I don’t need another Wimbledon title.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2015.

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