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, while last year's runner-up Andy
Murray secured a berth in his second straight final in Friday's nightcap at
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 warm, sun-filled Friday afternoon, while the reigning
U.S. Open champion Murray overcame 24th-seeded rising Polish star Jerzy
Janowicz 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 in the other final-four encounter.
Djokovic and Murray will square off in a blockbuster men's final on Sunday,
with the winner taking home a cool $2.4 million.
In one of the finest semifinals, or tennis matches for that matter, that
you'll ever see, Djokovic and del Potro slugged it out, 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 formidable Argentine.
Djokovic pulled out a very tight first set, but del Potro proved that he was
here to stay on Day 11 by leveling the bout with a hard-fought second-set
victory. He broke Djokovic for a 4-3 lead in the second and then held on from
there 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, to take 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 frame.
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 long, brilliant rally. The Serb had another match point
after that, but del Potro saved that one as well with a forehand winner to
even the tiebreak at 6-6.
Two points later, del Potro forced a deciding fifth set when Djokovic netted a
backhand, prompting the crowd at Centre Court to come to its feet in
The fifth set stayed on serve until the eighth game, when the ferocious
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
with a backhand winner.
"It was one of the best matches I've been a part of," Djokovic said. "One of
the most exciting, definitely. It was so close. You couldn't separate us.
That's why he's a Grand Slam champion. Every time he's in a tough situation,
he comes up with some unbelievable shots. I didn't think I played wrong when I
was match points up in the tiebreak. Credit to him for fighting."
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 6-foot-7, 2009 U.S. Open champion del Potro upset Djokovic in last year's
Olympic bronze-medal match on the famed grass here at the All England Club.
The 26-year-old Djokovic will 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 major semifinals.
In the Murray-Janowicz affair, Murray double-faulted to end the first-set
tiebreak as the mostly British faithful looked on.
The second-seeded Dunblane, Scotland native, however, would right the ship en
route to claiming the next three sets.
The 6-foot-8 Janowicz, the tallest-ever Grand Slam semifinalist in the Open
Era, broke Murray for a 3-1 lead in the third and then held for a 4-1
advantage, but a determined Murray charged back by winning five straight games
to grab a two-sets-to-one lead. He broke Janowicz to pull within 3-4, broke
again for a 5-4 edge, and then held in the 10th game, which came to a close
with a resounding ace by the Brit.
Officials then decided to close the retractable roof over Centre Court,
delaying the match for about 30 minutes, much to the chagrin of Murray, who
wanted to play on and build on the momentum he'd created over the second half
of the third set.
The fourth set was dominated by Murray, who broke the big-serving Janowicz for
a 2-1 lead and never looked back. Murray would convert on his first match
point when he struck an easy forehand return winner.
The match ended in just over three hours, as Murray drilled 20 aces, while
Janowicz was piling up 11 double faults. Murray broke his Polish counterpart
five times, while Janowicz settled for only one break in defeat.
Murray was asked how he felt to reach his second straight Wimbledon final.
"I'm obviously delighted with that," he said. "It was a very tough match
today ... I'm glad to get it done.
"This year's been a little bit different for me because I was expected to get
to the final."
The 6-foot-3 Murray, who skipped last month's French Open due to injury, is
now 25-2 in his last 27 Grand Slam matches.
He appeared in his fifth straight Wimbledon semifinal (2-3). Murray lost
to Roger Federer in last year's marquee final, but then upset the seven-time
Wimbledon champ in the Olympic gold-medal match a month later here on the
famed Centre Court.
The 26-year-old Murray is trying to give Britain its first male Wimbledon
champion in 77 years, or since Fred Perry turned the trick back in 1936.
The 22-year-old Janowicz, who became a regular on the ATP World Tour just last
season, fell to 1-2 lifetime against Murray. He also became the first-ever
Polish man to play in a Grand Slam semifinal on Friday.
Djokovic and Murray will meet for a 19th time, with the Serb holding an 11-7
lifetime advantage. The good friends have met in four Grand Slam matches, with
Djokovic going 3-1. This will mark their first-ever Wimbledon meeting.
"Tough match," Murray said of the upcoming battle.
Djokovic is 37-19 in his career ATP finals, with 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.
Murray is 27-14 in his career finals, including a 3-1 record this year, but is
a disappointing 1-5 in his career major finals, including an Aussie Open
loss to Djokovic back in January.
The Sports Network