August 13, 2022

LONDON — Novak Djokovic clinched a second straight Wimbledon win on Friday, this one with a far less daunting deficit, the drama far less palpable.

Djokovic, seeded number 9, beat Britain’s Cam Norrie 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in the semi-finals to extend his winning streak at the All England Club to 27 games as he is pursuing a fourth direct championship there.

On the hottest afternoon of the fortnight so far, with the temperature reaching 85 degrees and the air calm, Djokovic started slowly and often looked displeased, shaking his head or gesturing towards his box of guests. But unlike the quarterfinals, when he lost the first two sets to No.10 seed Jannik Sinner before winning in five, it took little time for Djokovic to assert his dominance.

When it ended, Djokovic curled his lips as if blowing a kiss to someone in the stands who had been supporting Norrie during the game.

“The job,” Djokovic said, “is not done.”

He will face first major finalist Nick Kyrgios for the trophy on Sunday. Unranked Kyrgios, a 27-year-old Australian who drew ridicule for the mere mention of his name during Djokovic’s on-court interview, didn’t need to play on Friday because 22-time champion Rafael Nadal Grand Slam, pulled out of their semi-final with a torn abdominal muscle.

“Well, one thing is for sure,” said Djokovic, who has lost the last two matches against Kyrgios. “There’s going to be a lot of fireworks, emotionally, of both.”

This will be the 32nd Grand Slam title match for Djokovic, breaking a tie for the men’s record he shares with Roger Federer, and it gives the 35-year-old Serb a chance to claim a 21st major title and a seventh at Wimbledon. . Only Federer, with eight, has more in the men’s grass tournament.

The women’s final will take place on Saturday, with 3rd seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia taking on 17th seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan. It will be the first Wimbledon final since 1962 between two women both making their debuts in a major final.

Djokovic v Norrie started auspiciously enough for the hosts to hope to see one of their own qualify for a men’s final, something only two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray has accomplished for Britain since the start of the season. professional era in 1968.

The roars came as southpaw Norrie rose first from his seat – Djokovic was pouring water over his hand and rubbing it through his hair to cool off – and headed to the baseline to receive the serve in the first game.

Others came when Djokovic missed a backhand to give up the first point, when he drove a long forehand on the second and when Norrie’s volley winner finished the break to grab this game. Norrie jumped and jumped and threw an uppercut. A few Union Jack flags waved in the stands.

Has the championship been won? No of course not. A deserved place in the final? Not that either. All in all, it was quite a party after just one of what would become 35 games, after five of 202 points, four of 154 minutes.

When Djokovic stepped back a few minutes later, he quickly turned to head for the pitchside stand holding his white towel and dabbed at his sweat. For him, it was not a monumental achievement.

The contrasting reactions highlighted the differences in their careers to date.

For Norrie, it was his first Grand Slam semi-final, 42 less than his opponent. Indeed, until this fortnight, Norrie had never made it past the third round of a major tournament, going 0-5 at this stage before.

In the end, the skill mismatch was also evident. Just one small example of Djokovic’s versatility and superbness came on a particularly wonderful point. He hit a spinning half volley on the move, but Norrie responded with a lob. So Djokovic ran towards the baseline, the net behind him, and conjured up his own lob between the legs, the wrong way, which somehow landed. Norrie raced towards that, twisted his body to respond with a forehand and Djokovic ended the 14-shot exchange with a volley winner.

Even the supporters present applauded approvingly. Djokovic raised his right index finger to the sky.

Still, it took him a full set to get going. Only two of Norrie’s first 20 points in the game came via winners he produced. Djokovic was down enough to commit 12 unforced errors by the end of the set, and there were plenty of other shots poor enough to let Norrie take the lead.

“A little tighter at the start of the game,” said Djokovic, who paused in the bathroom and donned a white hat before the second set. “You don’t swing the ball as easily as you would like.”

But in a measure of how he restored order, Djokovic committed 16 unforced errors in the last three sets combined.

Norrie, meanwhile, became less strong as Djokovic increased the pressure – in the points and on the scoreboard. A particularly sloppy service game from Norrie, with a trio of unforced errors, helped Djokovic break to lead 5-3 in the second set.

“He kind of gave me this game,” Djokovic said. “I feel like the momentum…has changed a bit.”

Perhaps sensing that their guy could use a boost, some fans sang, “Let’s go, Norrie, let’s go!” at the start of the third set. Didn’t change anything.

Djokovic broke to open the third and again to start the fourth.

Only one of Norrie’s previous five foes this fortnight was even seeded, No. 30 Tommy Paul. Needless to say, Djokovic represented a huge improvement in quality.

He’s not one to ignore opportunities that come his way, not one to leave gifts unopened, and so it was that day.