Djokovic overcomes injury to reach fourth Wimbledon final

Djokovic overcomes injury to reach fourth Wimbledon final
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Published July 11th, 2015 - 15:46 GMT via

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Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic

The Centre Court crowd, unsure quite how long they wanted yesterday's first semi-final to keep Andy Murray waiting, eventually rose to cheer off Richard Gasquet, for some shots to remember, and Novak Djokovic for reaching his fourth Wimbledon final with an increasingly dominant performance.

The French musketeer once again played some excellent tennis before submitting 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 in just under two and a half hours, each set becoming a little more straightforward than the previous one.

In the second half of the match, the top seed's greatest concern appeared to come from a troublesome left shoulder that required treatment twice. He insisted afterwards, however: "It's nothing that worries me. It'll be fine for the next match."

Discomfort or not, Djokovic's staying power proved greater than that of the elegant Frenchman, who had played a draining nine sets in seeing off Nick Kyrgios and fourth seed Stan Wawrinka.

Gasquet had his moments, notably with a series of winners from the lovely one-handed backhand that parks players will be attempting in vain to emulate this weekend. What let him down was an unexpectedly poor first serve, landing in only 51 per cent of the time. "He served better and returned better," the 21st seed admitted. "I tried my best, tried to be aggressive and hit some great backhands. It's been a great tournament for me and I'm really happy with the way I played."

Not that London has seen the last of Gasquet this month. At the end of next week he will be part of France's Davis Cup team taking on Great Britain at Queen's in the quarter-final, making the best of all his grasscourt play over the past fortnight. By reaching a Grand Slam semi-final for only the third time, he is projected to rise to world No 13 when the new rankings are released on Monday.

Djokovic will step out again tomorrow afternoon hoping to match his coach Boris Becker's tally of three Wimbledon titles. The champion directed some anguished glances and muttered curses towards his support team early on as he played a patchy first set. After breaking serve to lead 2-0, he immediately dropped his own serve, and found Gasquet whipping a glorious backhand past him in most games.

Not until the tie-break did he establish any sort of control, taking it 7-2 to begin freewheeling. As he suggested later: "Things could have gone his [Gasquet's] way in the first set and that was the turning point." As to his own efforts, he said: "It was a very good performance considering the occasion."

A break right at the start of the second set put the Serb in charge and, despite calling for the trainer at two successive changeovers towards the end, he pulled out two 125mph aces in a row to demoralise his opponent further in taking a two-set lead.

It was all very different from the previous round, when Djokovic had trailed to Kevin Anderson by two sets. Gasquet was not helped either by knowing he had lost 11 of the previous 12 meetings, including a 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 drubbing at his home tournament at Roland Garros this year.

Dropping serve early once more in the third set, he clung on for a while, saving three match points, without managing to halt the champion's charge into a 17th major final.

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