Djokovic beats Del Potro in epic semi, reaches second Wimbledon final

12:26 PM, Jul 5, 2013   |    comments
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Wimbledon, England (Sports Network) - In one of the greatest semifinal matches in Wimbledon history, former champion Novak Djokovic outlasted Juan Martin del Potro in a five-set classic Friday at the All England Club.

The world No. 1 Djokovic pulled out a 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (6-8), 6-3 victory over the eighth-seeded del Potro in a Wimbledon-semifinal-record 4 hours, 43 minutes on a sun-filled afternoon.

The 6-foot-7, 2009 U.S. Open champion del Potro upset Djokovic in last year's Olympic bronze-medal match on the grass here at the All England Club.

Djokovic will meet second-seeded Andy Murray or 24th-seeded Jerzy Janowicz in Sunday's lucrative final on the famed Centre Court.

In one of the finest semifinals, or tennis matches for that matter, that you'll ever see, Djokovic and del Potro slugged it out on Day 12, displaying powerful groundstrokes and amazing court coverage. The incredibly physical match featured 64 rallies of nine points or more, most of which were actually won by the towering Argentine.

Djokovic pulled out a very tight first set, but the Argentine del Potro proved that he was here to stay on Day 11 by leveling the bout with a hard-fought second-set victory. Del Potro broke Djokovic for a 4-3 lead in the second and then held on to claim the stanza.

In the third set, Djokovic blew a 40-love lead in the 12th game and lost a chance, for the time being, at taking the stanza that eventually went to a tiebreak, which the world No. 1 Serb won easily. Both players failed to break serve in the tense set.

And the fourth set was simply a battle of attrition.

Following a break by Djokovic, del Potro broke back to level the fourth at 4-4 and the set was on its way to a tiebreak.

In the extra session, del Potro saved a match point when Djokovic floated a forehand long to cap a very long and brilliant rally. The Serb had another match point after that, but del Potro saved that one as well with a clutch forehand winner, evening the tiebreak at 6-6.

Two points later, del Potro forced a deciding fifth set when Djokovic netted a backhand, prompting the Centre Court crowd to come to its feet in astonishment.

The fifth set, although not quite as dramatic as the fourth, stayed on serve until the eighth game, when the amazing Djokovic broke a tiring del Potro for a 5-3 lead. The match came to an end in the next game when Djokovic held serve, converting on his third match point of the day with a backhand winner.

The Serbian star swatted 22 aces and broke del Potro three times, while the Argentine settled for only four aces and two breaks in defeat. Djokovic also tallied 32 more winners (80-48) in advancing.

Djokovic is now 9-3 lifetime against the hard-luck loser del Potro and the Serb is 4-0 in their career Grand Slam matchups. Friday marked their first- ever Wimbledon clash.

The 26-year-old Djokovic will now appear in his ninth final at the last 12 Grand Slam events. He owns six major singles titles overall, including this year's Australian Open and the 2011 Wimbledon championship.

The 26-year-old appeared in his 13th straight Grand Slam semifinal and is now 2-3 in his career Wimbledon semis.

The 24-year-old del Potro dropped to 1-2 in his career major semifinals.

Djokovic is 37-19 in his career ATP finals, including a perfect 3-0 mark this year, including Aussie Open and Monte Carlo Masters titles. He's 6-4 in his career Grand Slam finals.

The 2013 Wimbledon champ will collect $2.4 million.

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