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How The Djokovic, del Potro Wimbledon Semi-final Was Won

Wimbledon, England

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic had two match points at 6-4 in the fourth set tie-break.

Novak Djokovic reached his 11th major final on Friday and will now attempt to capture his second title at The Championships. He will play against second seed and last year’s runner-up Andy Murray or No. 24 seed Jerzy Janowicz.

The top seed defeated eighth seed Juan Martin del Potro 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-7(6), 6-3 on a sun-kissed day. Del Potro had saved two match points at 4-6 in the fourth set tie-break.

Royal Box observers from the tennis world were 1988 and 1990 Wimbledon champion Stefan Edberg, 1950 winner Budge Patty, 1953 titlist Vic Seixas, three-time runner-up Fred Stolle and six-time former doubles champion Mark Woodforde.

ATPWorldTour.com looks at how the semi-final was won.

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FIRST SET

Djokovic tested out the heavily bandaged left knee of del Potro early on. At 2-3, del Potro managed to save a break point at 30/40, in a game of five deuces. As del Potro started to strike his forehand cleanly, it forced Djokovic to keep the rallies as short as possible. 

Djokovic may not have been at his best, committing 12 unforced errors, but trailing 0/30 at 5-4, the top seed got the ball back to put del Potro on the defence. Djokovic won four straight points to break serve and clinch the 55-minute set.

DjokovicSECOND SET

Del Potro clung on when his serve was under siege in the sixth game of the second set. In saving four break points, his confidence soared. He went on to break Djokovic to love, which fired up the Centre Court crowd, and he led 40/0 in his next service game before Djokovic fought back in a tense hold for 5-3.

Del Potro, who backed up his first serve with 11 winners, won all 10 of his net points and committed three unforced errors in the 44-minute set. Djokovic won just 33 per cent of his second service points.

THIRD SET

Djokovic showed great mettle when he survived two moments of crisis in the third set – at 2-2 and 3-3 – including three break points. Though, at times, he became tentative when striking backhand groundstrokes, del Potro was unable to capitalise.  

At 4-5, 15/30, del Potro faced an anxious dash across the court for a forehand. With the smallest of back swings, he struck the ball crosscourt to send Djokovic diving. Both players exchanged smiles.

Djokovic could not convert three set point opportunities at 6-5, when del Potro dropped to 0/40, but he kept his concentration in the tie-break. At 2-3, del Potro hit a smash into the net as Djokovic slipped behind the baseline. It proved to be the turning point. Djokovic hit 19 winners during the set.

Djokovic, del PotroFOURTH SET

It looked as if Djokovic had taken a firm grip of their 12th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting at 3-3 in the fourth set. Del Potro saved one break point with a backhand volley winner at 15/40, but, on the next point, a deep forehand from Djokovic that landed on the baseline, caught del Potro off-balance and he struck a forehand into the net. 

Looking tired at the change of ends, del Potro appeared to be a spent force. But the Argentine summoned more energy to break back immediately, with exceptional courage. Striking a stunning backhand winner down the line at 30/40 he levelled the score at 4-4. At 6-5, del Potro hit a crosscourt forehand winner timed at 113 miles per hour. 

In the tie-break, both players hit the lines leading to two Hawk-Eye challenges. Both mis-challenged, but Djokovic wrestled control to open up a 4-2 lead. Defiant to the last, del Potro found a way back. The quality was incredible. 

Djokovic held two match point opportunities at 6-4. Neither player gave an inch. Del Potro won a 24-stroke rally, then two further points for his first set point chance at 7-6. Going for broke, del Potro lashed a backhand return cross-court. Djokovic lunged for a backhand, which he netted.

DjokovicFIFTH SET

Djokovic and del Potro both saved break points on serve in the early stages of the fifth set. But it was Djokovic, serving first in the set, who slid and battled from behind the baseline to create an opening. At 3-4, del Potro dropped to 15/40. Though he saved one break point, del Potro overcooked a forehand approach to give Djokovic the opportunity to serve for his 152nd match win at a Grand Slam championship.

Del Potro didn’t give up. He won the first two points on Djokovic’s serve and had one break point at 30/40, but he could not scramble up a drop shot. On Djokovic’s third match point, he hit his 16th backhand winner - and 80th winner overall - to complete a victory that will live long in the memory of those who witnessed it.

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