Serbia’s Novak Djokovic on Friday beat Roberto Bautista of Spain 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the Wimbledon semifinals to move a step closer to defending his title.
This is the sixth time Djokovic qualifies for the Wimbledon final, equaling Bjorn Borg of Sweden, Jimmy Connors of the United States and Rod Laver of Australia.
Laver attended the match held at the Centre Court, as did British actor and producer Hugh Grant, former soccer player David Beckham and Manolo Santana, the first Spaniard to win Wimbledon in 1966.
For his 16th Grand Slam title and the fifth at All England Tennis Club, Djokovic will take on either Rafael Nadal of Spain or Roger Federer of Switzerland.
“Of course I will watch it! I’m a fan of that match-up as well. Federer vs Nadal is one of the most epic rivalries of all time so it is fantastic to see them play today,” Djokovic was cited as saying on the tournament's Twitter account.
Djokovic won the title in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2018, while he lost in 2013 to Andy Murray of the United Kingdom.
Heading into Friday’s semifinal, Djokovic had lost twice against Bautista this year; at the Qatar Open semifinal and the third round of the Miami Open.
Djokovic needed two hours and 49 minutes and five match points to get his revenge.
Bautista was fighting to become only the 6th player to defeat Djokovic in a Grand Slam semifinal, joining Federer, Nadal, Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, Kei Nishikori of Japan and Dominic Thiem of Austria.
Djokovic was more than Bautista could handle this time and booked a place in his 25th Grand Slam final after earning his 71st Wimbledon triumph.
Djokovic started the match with confidence as he earned two service breaks in the second and eighth games to clinch the opener after 37 minutes, taking advantage of a nervous Bautista.
A single service break in the third game of the second set was enough for Bautista to draw level at one set apiece without facing a break point in the second set.
Then Djokovic needed to shuffle the cards and he approached the net, where he displayed some good skills, resulting in a service break in the sixth game as the Serb took a 4-2 lead.
The Spaniard tried his best in the following game to recover, which resulted in a 45-shot point, but Djokovic managed to win the game.
In the fourth set, Djokovic mixed up some tight drop shots with approaching the net, which enabled him to earn two service breaks; in the third and fifth games to grab a 5-1.
Bautista saved four match points in the last game, but he could not with the fifth when he made a mistake at the net. EFE-EPA