Djokovic wins epic battle
World No 1 survives epic five-hour encounter against Juan Martin Del Potro to enter final
While you watch this gentlemen’s semi-final match on Centre Court with your jaw dropping, you ask yourself, is this the match in which Juan Martin Del Potro creates a little bit of history for himself and makes his first Wimbledon final? Or is this match a story of lost chances for the Tower of Tandil?
The crowd, soon into the match, is all for Del Potro. Novak Djokovic is World No 1 and the definite favourite – out to avenge his defeat on this court in a bronze medal match in the 2012 Olympics. But no one, it seems, told Del Potro that he was supposed to roll over and play dead.
Point after point, Del Potro had every answer for Djokovic, a man who has honed his returning game to perfection and has worked at creating impossible angles.
They were well-matched in the first set even though Djokovic had break points on the Del Potro serve when he led by 3 games to 2. But in spite of his double fault and a needless challenge, Del Potro held on. This continued until Djokovic won the match on a dime when Del Potro was serving at 5 games to 6. This one set took 55 minutes.
The next set started with Del Potro tightening his game and getting the crowd into this match. Fans have watched Del Potro collapsing several times but not this time. He broke Djokovic to love to take the second set, 6 4.
The grass is no longer as slippery as it was in the first week, but Djokovic was slip sliding away, falling twice in consecutive points at one point. The third set started once again with Del Potro refusing to give in or lose concentration. At 5 games to 6, Djokovic had break points to take the set but Del Potro fought back and took the match to a tiebreak. Here, Djokovic stepped it up and won it with a five-point difference.
Many people thought the match was over, expecting Del Potro to crumble. But once more, Del Potro did not seem to be aware of this. He hit the most incredible shots and stunned Djokovic on a number of occasions. Djokovic had match points in the tiebreak but Del Potro just fought back with some brilliant tennis. And then served it out to take the fourth.
Flagging Del Potro
The fifth set however did see Del Potro flag bit. And Djokovic got the break and served at 5 3. Did we say Del Potro was flagging? He was there in all intensity trying to get the break back from Djokovic. The crowd was willing Del Potro to retrieve those match points like he had in the previous set. But it was not to be. Djokovic won with a great down the line.
After the match ended, Djokovic said this was one of the best matches he’s ever been part of. And it was one of the best matches for spectators, all four hours 43 minutes of it – the longest men’s semi-final at Wimbledon. “One of the all-time great matches I’ve ever seen,” said John McEnroe on television.
Djokovic called it a “very high level of tennis” and for that, all credit has to go to Del Potro. Did we say that this was a story of missed chances for Del Potro? Emphatically, no! Del Potro won more fans than he has before with his fighting spirit and his exceptional tennis. Matches like this are why you watch sport.