Defending champion Novak Djokovic recovered from a second-set wobble to beat Roberto Batista Agut in the first of two Wimbledon semifinals Friday.
Djokovic triumphed 6-2 4-6 6-3 6-2 over the Spaniard as he targets a fifth Wimbledon title and 16th major in all.
The Serb looked to be at his very best for long periods of the match but Batista Agut, not at all overawed by the occasion in his first grand slam semifinal, more than matched his opponent’s brilliance at times.
Djokovic will now play either Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer in Sunday’s final.
After his one-sided quarterfinal victory, Djokovic’s opponent — Belgian David Goffin — remarked that it felt like he had been playing against a “wall” on Centre Court.
There has arguably never been a better returner of serve in the history of the game and few can match Djokovic’s speed, athleticism and flexibility on a tennis court.
In the opening exchanges, Batista Agut seemed to be feeling the pressure of needing to hit two or three extra shots before finding a way through Djokovic’s defense.
Four nervous errors on his forehand — his favored side and by quite some distant his most effective shot — allowed Djokovic to break in his first service game.
When playing against the world No. 1, every shot needs to be executed to near-perfection and too many of Batista Agut’s were far from perfect.
Forehands were too short or too wide and attempted drop shots were sitting up nicely for Djokovic in the middle of the court.
In the blink of eye, the Spaniard was two breaks of serve down and after 35 minutes the first set belonged to Djokovic.
Second set shock
It felt as though this semifinal would flash past Batista Agut before he would even have the chance to start playing but as Djokovic’s level dropped at the start of the second set, the Spaniard pounced.
Perhaps the tennis gods were smiling down on Batista Agut, too, as a string broke on Djokovic’s racket when serving at 15-30 to gift his opponent two break points.
Batista Agut capitalized and, despite squandering two more break points in Djokovic’s next service game, held firm and saw out the remainder of the set in confident fashion to level the match.
By the time the third set was well under way, signs of frustration were beginning to creep into Djokovic’s demeanor.
After a lazy volley at 2-2, he mistakenly let Batista Agut’s forehand sail past him and looked back to see it land well inside the baseline.
Djokovic shrugged his shoulders and raised his arms, glaring in the direction of his supporters’ box.
More to follow…