Novak Djokovic is now just one win away from his third straight grand slam, a title that would see him match Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at twenty. Should he beat Matteo Berrettini and secure that, he would also fancy his chances of finally passing the pair at the US Open where he will be favourite. Berrettini is the first Italian man in a Wimbledon singles final ever and the first in one in general since 1976.
Berrettini came into the semis as favourite but was facing a red-hot Hubert Hurkacz, who had impressively beaten Daniil Medvedev and Roger Federer back to back. It did look like the Pole had run out of steam though with Berrettini rushing into a two set lead, with a streak of eleven games in a row during the 6-3 6-0 6-7 6-4 win. He hit 60 winners (22 aces) and was never broken in the match, playing great attacking tennis throughout. “I have no words. I need a couple of hours to understand what happened. I played a great match. I never dreamed about this because it’s too much.” he said.
Djokovic was not really at his best in the semis but still ended up a winner in straight sets against Denis Shapovalov 7-6 7-5 7-5. The Canadian had Djokovic on the run for long periods of the match and will believe he could have been up 2-0 in sets with a bit more fortune. As it was, he struggled on the key points and Djokovic delivered on them. He was down a break in the first and faced multiple break points on several occasions in the second but did enough to win both. “He was the better player for the first couple sets,” said Djokovic. “In important moments I probably held my nerve better than he did.”
There might be at least one Italian cheered by a London crowd on Sunday with the Centre Court crowd always looking to get behind an underdog as Berrettini is. He has the offensive game to trouble Djokovic but as with Shapovalov and others, it will be up to the him to deliver in the big moments and not wilt as many do. Djokovic is going to look to target the Berrettini backhand as he did in his previous two wins and it should be about how long it takes for him to achieve another piece of tennis history as opposed to if.
Prediction – Novak Djokovic in straight sets