Novak Djokovic will face Nick Kyrgios in the Wimbledon final on Sunday as the top seed came from behind to defeat Cameron Norrie 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4.
Despite dropping the first set – and with the Centre Court crowd clamoring in support of home favorite Norrie – it ended up being a comfortable victory for Djokovic after he broke down Norrie’s resistance in the second set.
It means the 35-year-old will play for his seventh Wimbledon title and fourth in a row having not lost at SW19 since the quarterfinal stages in 2017.
“I didn’t start off well, he was the better player for the first set,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview after Friday’s match.
“Semifinals of a grand slam, of course, I’ve had in the past many semifinals of grand slams but it’s never easy walking out onto the court. You have a lot of pressure, expectations from yourself and of course from others as well.”
With the sun beating down and blue skies hanging above Centre Court, the contest got off to a dream start for the home fans cheering for Norrie as the Briton broke Djokovic in the first game of the match.
Djokovic replied with a break of his own, but that did little to deter Norrie, who was appearing in his first grand slam semifinal; the ninth seed took two more breaks and had the first set wrapped up in 32 minutes.
Djokovic, meanwhile, had little cause to celebrate in the first set, except for an audacious, between-the-legs lob that sailed over Norrie and landed inch-perfectly inside the baseline.
He returned to the court wearing a cap in the second set and held his first game to love. Several opportunities to break Norrie arose – first at 2-1, then again at 3-2 – before the 20-time grand slam champion finally got the upper hand by breaking Norrie for a 5-3 lead.
After closing out the set, Djokovic was quick off the mark in the third and secured an early break when Norrie skewed a forehand long.
By now, Djokovic’s ground shots had more venom and precision as he began to exert his dominance on the match – even as the crowd continue to provide buoying support for Norrie. Another break of serve followed, and the set was wrapped up in 38 minutes.
The fourth set followed a similar pattern to the third as Djokovic broke in the opening game. Norrie battled on, winning all his remaining service games, but it was to no avail. The Serb completed the victory when he thumped a serve out of Norrie’s reach.
Sunday will be a remarkable 32nd final for Djokovic from 68 grand slam appearances – one more final than rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
He will meet Kyrgios – a player he has lost to in both of their two previous meetings – after Nadal withdrew from his semifinal against the Australian with an abdominal strain.
“I think a Kyrgios-Djokovic final would be mouth-watering,” was how Kyrgios – who, at No. 40 in the world, is the lowest-ranked Wimbledon men’s finalist since 2003 – described the prospect of facing Djokovic earlier on Friday.
The 27-year-old has played some thrilling tennis so far this tournament, while also irking his opponents – notably Stefanos Tsitsipas – with his on-court antics.
As for Djokovic, he promised there would be “a lot of fireworks emotionally” when the pair faced.
“It’s going to be his first grand slam final, obviously he’s very excited,” he said. “He doesn’t have much to lose and he’s always playing like that. He’s playing so freely, he has one of the biggest serves in the game.
“Just a big game overall, a lot of power in his shots. We haven’t played for some time, I’ve never won a set off him, so hopefully, it can be different this time.”