Djokovic To Sleep On SF Lead Against Rafa
Novak Djokovic is potentially one set away from playing in his first Grand Slam final since the 2016 US Open (l. to Wawrinka), but he will have to wait until Saturday to resume a bid for a place in his fifth Wimbledon title match (3-1).
The Serbian leads Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(9) in their Wimbledon semi-final after winning a critical tie-break just after 11pm when play was postponed due to a local curfew.
Fans saw some of the historic rivalry’s best tennis during the abbreviated contest. Djokovic and Nadal are meeting for the 52nd time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry.
The Serbian started quicker, stretching Nadal out wide to his forehand and opening up the court well. The former World No. 1 pushed Nadal to deuce in his first three service games before breaking in the seventh game.
Djokovic, dialled in on serve, held to love to take a one-set advantage. But Nadal wouldn’t be bullied in the second set and gained confidence in his forehand. Both men raised their levels, trading three consecutive breaks but Nadal held at 5-3 to even the semi-final.
The third set, their final on Friday, was their best yet. Nadal was the aggressor, dictating with his forehand and forcing Djokovic to sprint from side to side and slide on the grass. The Spaniard won eight of 11 net points.
But Djokovic fought off three set points before whipping a backhand winner past Nadal at net to bring up his second set point, which the Serbian converted when Nadal netted a backhand.
The two were made to wait because of Friday’s six-and-a-half-hour semi-final between John Isner and Kevin Anderson, and their setting changed slightly as organisers closed the Centre Court roof. But none of that mattered when the two legends made their long-awaited appearance.
Most Tour-Level Meetings In Open Era Rivalry
|Players||Tour-Level Meetings||FedEx ATP Head2Head|
|Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal||52*||Djokovic leads 26-25|
|Novak Djokovic vs. Roger Federer||45||Djokovic leads 23-22|
|Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal||38||Nadal leads 23-15|
Jimmy Connors vs. Ivan Lendl
Connors leads 23-13
*including Friday’s SF
The winner of Djokovic-Nadal will meet Anderson, who prevailed 26-24 in the fifth set to reach his second Grand Slam final (2017 US Open) and first Wimbledon title match.
No two players in the Open Era have faced each other more than Nadal and Djokovic, and it’s their 14th meeting at a Grand Slam (Nadal leads 9-4).
But they haven’t encountered each other this deep at a Grand Slam since 2013 Roland Garros, when Nadal stayed perfect in Grand Slam semi-finals against Djokovic (4-0). The last time the two played anywhere was in May at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, where Nadal won in straight sets as Djokovic continued his comeback from elbow surgery.
Nadal, No. 1 in the ATP Rankings, is looking to stay firmly on top of the tennis world and reach his sixth Wimbledon final (2-3) and his first since 2011 (l. to Djokovic). Djokovic is looking to continue his statement run at SW19 and is going for his fourth Wimbledon title.