13 Jul 2019

Champion Djokovic roars to Wimbledon final

5:47 am on 13 July 2019

Top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic held off a spirited challenge from Spanish outsider Roberto Bautista Agut to advance to Sunday's Wimbledon final.

Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The 6-2 4-6 6-3 6-2 success was the Serb's 12th victory in the last 13 grand slam semi-finals and he will be seeking his fifth title at Wimbledon and 16th grand slam singles crown in the latest instalment of the 'big three' showdown.

Djokovic won the first set relatively comfortably but was pegged back in the second as 23rd-seed Bautista Agut, appearing in his first grand slam semi and buoyed by winning the pair's last two meetings, upped his serving and took advantage of some uncharacteristic errors from the hot favourite.

The match turned on an amazing 45-shot rally in the sixth game of the third set, which Djokovic won to break serve - and from then on he took total control as the Spaniard, who had looked calm and confident in his first Grand Slam semi- final was eventually brushed aside.

"I had to dig deep. It's the semi-finals and Roberto was not overwhelmed," Djokovic, 32, said.

"He played really well. He was managing his nerves in the first set but later on he established himself and started to play better. I got a bit tight.

It was a close opening four or five games of the third set - that's where the match could have gone a different way."

Bautista Agut flashed a brilliant return past Djokovic from the first serve of the match but he barely threatened for the rest of the set as his high-risk approach produced too many errors and a provided a straightforward set win for the favourite.

The second was a different story as Bautista Agut dialled back a little and found that he was able to out-duel the master. Djokovic was making uncharacteristic errors on seemingly simple shots and was frequently left staring skywards, questioning himself.

Bautista Agut snatched a break in the third game and served superbly to back it up, dropping only four points in five successful service games to level the match.

The third third set and probably the match, hinged on its seventh game as Djokovic, a break to the good, served at 30-40.

The players then smashed out their remarkable 45-shot rally, much of it a mesmerising exchange of identical crosscourt backhands that had the crowd gasping before Djokovic blinked first to switch the angle of attack and take the point with a devastating winner.

It was the longest rally officially seen at Wimbledon since records began in 2005 and Djokovic duly served out and stayed on top to take the set.

The champion then took command in the fourth set, cutting out the loose groundstrokes and picking up points with adventurous serve-and-volley attacks, and after breaking for a 2-1 lead he never looked back.

Bautista Agut can now at least join his friends on a belated stag break having had to postpone his plans to jet off to Ibiza after his unexpected progress to the last four in London.

Djokovic, however, has got more business to attend to.

"Regardless of the history and many finals I've played, playing a final at Wimbledon is something different so I'll definitely enjoy that experience," he said.