Novak Djokovic will play for his fourth Wimbledon title after beating world No. 1 Rafael Nadal in a five-set semifinal match that took an extra day to complete.
In the 52nd career meeting between the two players, Djokovic, the No. 12 seed, held on for a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9), 3-6, 10-8 victory Saturday on Centre Court at the All England Club.
Djokovic, who has 12 Grand Slam titles, hasn’t won a major in more than two years, dealing with an injured right elbow that was so painful in 2017 he quit his quarterfinal at Wimbledon and sat out the rest of the season. He had surgery in February, but results on the court since had been shaky.
The total match time was 5 hours, 15 minutes, making it the second-longest semifinal match in terms of duration in Wimbledon history.
“It really could have gone either ways,” Djokovic said. “Basically until the last shot, I didn’t know if I was going to win.”
Said Nadal: “In my opinion, he deserved it. I deserved it, too.”
Djokovic will face No. 8 seed Kevin Anderson on Sunday for the title. Anderson advanced Friday with a 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24 victory over John Isner — a match that took 6 hours, 36 minutes to play, a record for a Wimbledon semifinal.
Djokovic has a 5-1 edge against Anderson, including a 2-0 record against the South African at Wimbledon.
“It’s been a roller-coaster ride for him the last couple rounds, but he had a day off, which means a lot,” Djokovic said. “I wish I could have one.”
This match was quite a contrast to Friday’s battle between the hard-serving foes. Nadal and Djokovic regularly — and spectacularly — ran down shots to force long rallies, drawing gasps and cheers from the appreciative crowd.
Undaunted by losing his lead and being forced to an extra set, Djokovic saved break points at 4-all and 7-all in the fifth, before breaking Nadal at love to end things.
“It’s hard to pick the words,” said Djokovic, who has won his past eight five-setters at Wimbledon. “I’m just going through things, flashbacks of the last 15 months, and everything I’ve been through to get here.”
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