Novak Djokovic defeats Rafael Nadal in super-human epic to reach Wimbledon final

By Daily Sports on July 15, 2018

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Novak Djokovic returned to the Wimbledon final for the first time since 2015 after defeating Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals in a five hour and 15 minutes epic.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion has not contested a major final since losing to Stan Wawrinka in the US Open final two years ago, with injury and a loss of form halting his progress.

Some had questioned whether the 31-year-old would ever return to his peak, particularly after a miserable start to the year, but he performed magnificently in an epic battle on Centre Court as he gave himself a shot of clinching a fourth Wimbledon title against Kevin Anderson on Sunday.

It was their first meeting at The Championships since the final in 2011 – the same year where Nadal made his last appearance in the semi-finals at Wimbledon – while it was only their first encounter at a major for three years. It was well and truly worth the wait.

The pair produced the match of the year, with Djokovic ultimately triumphing 6-4 3-6 7-6 (11-9) 3-6 10-8 to inflict just the third defeat upon Nadal in 2018, in a match that was similar to the Australian Open final in 2012 – the longest Grand Slam final in history.

To play tennis for well over five hours is a feat in itself, to play at this level throughout is just super-human.

Both men had won 107 points a piece when play was called to a halt just after 11pm on Friday night but Djokovic crucially clinched the third-set tiebreaker – saving three set points on his way to a 2-1 lead.

Fascinatingly, the match resumed on Centre Court under the roof – despite it being a gloriously sunny Saturday at the All England Club.

Wimbledon chiefs had ruled that the match would continue under the same conditions in which it started, unless both players agreed to change them. There was little motivation for Djokovic, one of the finest indoor players of all time, to agree to that.

Under the watchful eye of princesses Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, the pair picked up where they left off, producing tennis fit for royalty.

In a 16-minute opening game in the fourth set, Nadal saved two break points before breaking himself for a 2-0 lead.

Djokovic was quick to respond, breaking the world No. 1 to 15 to get himself back on serve before holding with ease to level at 3-3.

Nadal got his nose in front again, though, and served out the set from 0-40 down.

Just after 2pm – when the women’s final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber was due to start – the fifth set began.

That delay was not a great look for All England Club chiefs, particularly after being so stubborn over not moving the men’s final due to a clash with the World Cup.

The length of both semi-finals had caused the problem. Anderson and John Isner’s six-and-a-half-hour marathon match had set the record for the longest semi-final in the tournament’s history, Djokovic and Nadal’s near five-hour encounter became the third longest.

Kerber and Williams were the clear losers of the situation, with both left anxiously waiting for their time to shine. That match will take place with the roof off.

In the fifth, Djokovic set up the first break point chance at 4-3, but could only dump a return into the net before Nadal thumped two humongous forehand winners past him to hold.

The next game, Djokovic dragged a forehand wide and gifted Nadal two break points but the Serb showed great nerve to hold and keep the decider on serve.

A tense series of games followed and Djokovic exploded with anger as he missed another return – screaming at his box as Nadal levelled at 7-7 after four hours and 48 minutes played.

After losing his cool, he was forced to dig deep again, saving three break points – the third with a truly brilliant forehand passing shot.

He set up a match point after five hours and five minutes but Nadal produced a stunning drop-shot to hold.

It was Djokovic’s day, though, and he broke to take the decider 10-8 and set up a final with Anderson. (Metro)

Source Daily Sports

Posted July 15, 2018

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