Novak Djokovic mocked the crowd on Centre Court at Wimbledon today after his Italian rival Jannik Sinner failed to take the third set in their semi-final match, which the Serbian went on to win in straight sets.
The 36-year-old repeatedly served his way out of potential trouble to beat Sinner 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) at SW19.
Djokovic mocked the Wimbledon crowd by making a ‘cry baby’ gesture after Sinner failed to take advantage of three set points.
Overall Djokovic won all six break points he faced and is now into his ninth final at the All England Club. It’s also his 35th final at all Grand Slam tournaments, more than any man or woman in tennis history.
He is seeking a 24th major singles championship overall, which would set the mark for the most in the Open era, which began in 1968.
Roger Federer is the only man to have won eight singles trophies at Wimbledon. Martina Navratilova won the women’s championship nine times.
Djokovic, who was watched by a beaming Princess of Wales from the royal box, will meet No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz or No. 3 Daniil Medvedev for the trophy on Sunday. Alacaraz and Medvedev were scheduled to play their semifinal later Friday.
Djokovic mocked the Wimbledon crowd by making a ‘cry baby’ gesture after Sinner failed to take advantage of three set points
As he claimed victory his wife Jelena punched the air in support and cheered him on until the final minute
Djokovic’s son Stefan was also in the crowd for the tense match on Friday
Novak Djokovic today closed in on a record-equaling eighth title at Wimbledon and fifth in a row by beating his Italian opponent Jannik Sinner in straight sets
The 36-year-old repeatedly served his way out of potential trouble to beat Sinner 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the semifinals at SW19 on Friday
Jelena Djokovic beams as she watches her husband in action against Sinner
The game was not without controversy – as Djokovic was penalised by British umpire Richard Haigh in the second set, when the score was 15-15 in the fourth game.
Djokovic had suddenly let out a loud and late grunt after hitting a backhand down the line that he probably expected to be a winner only for Sinner to reach it.
Mr Haigh said Djokovic’s roar came too late after his shot and could have put his opponent off.
It is unusual for a grunt to elicit a hindrance ruling and Djokovic reacted with disbelief, saying to Haigh: ‘You must be joking. Calling that in the semi-final of Wimbledon? What are you doing?’
To compound the situation, Haigh then gave Djokovic a time violation for taking too long on his serve in the same game but the reigning champion managed to keep his cool and chose not to initiate another confrontation.
Speaking about the situation following the game, Djokovic said he was ‘really upset’ by the decision Haigh made, adding that it was a hinderance against him during his semi-final.
He said: ‘I have to accept the decision from a chair umpire. That’s it.
‘It was quite a close call, I must say. It has never happened to me. I’ve never had a hindrance call for extended grunt.
‘I saw the replay. I saw that my grunt finished before he hit the shot. So I thought that the chair umpire’s call was not correct. I was just trying to hold my things mentally together, and not really get upset, even though I was really upset because I didn’t think it was the right call.’
Following the tiff he refocused and continued to dominate – winning the next three points to take the game.
Despite his superiority, the crowd were firmly on the side of Sinner.
Djokovic clapped sarcastically and gave a thumbs up when noise delayed his second serve, with a man shouting ‘Vamos Rafa’, and was then booed for taunting the crowd when Sinner missed both chances.
When Djokovic held serve, he turned to the fans closest to him and mimed crying, but it was he, once again, who had the last laugh, extending his winning streak of tie-breaks to 15 at grand slams.
Jelena, who married the tennis star in 2014, gave her husband all her support from the stands
She shared hugs with those around her in her excitement at Djokovic’s win against Sinner
The match was a rollercoaster of emotions as Djokovic wiped away ‘tears’ before going on to claim another tennis victory
The Serbian, 36, repeatedly served his way out of potential trouble to beat Sinner 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the semifinals at SW19 on Friday
Djokovic raises his arms aloft after beating Sinner in straight sets today
Djokovic celebrates winning his semi final match against Italy’s Jannik Sinner
Djokovic reacts as he leaves the court after winning against Italy’s Jannik Sinner during their men’s singles semi-finals match
Djokovic signs autographs after securing victory against his Italian rival
Djokovic raises his racquet in the air in celebration after beating Jannik Sinner today
Djokovic crouches down and touches the hallowed grass of Centre Court after beating Sinner
Djokovic slips during his semi-final match against Jannik Sinner at WImbledon today
Jannik Sinner’s talent was neutralised by the seven-time winner
Novak Djokovic ran away with the first set as he stormed 6-3 ahead
Novak Djokovic in action against Jannik Sinner
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns against Italy’s Jannik Sinner during their semi-final
Novak Djokovic after winning the second set during his semi final match
Jelena was all smiles as she reacted to the tense end of the game
She had begun the match by looking focused as her husband got ready to play against Sinner
The game was not without controversy – as Djokovic was penalised by British umpire Richard Haigh in the second set (Jelena is pictured near the start of the match)
Sinner and Djokovic had met in the quarter-finals here last year, where the 21-year-old Italian opened up a two-set lead only for his opponent to win in five.
Both looked a little edgy at the start, with Sinner contesting his first slam semi-final after the sort of draw that players dream of.
The eighth seed could not convert two break points, though, and in the second game Djokovic took his chance.
Sinner, who struggled with his footwork throughout the contest on the slippery grass, had another break point in the fifth game only to miss with a forehand, and three aces in a row helped Djokovic clinch the set.
Sinner is one of the biggest ball-strikers in the game and he elicited oohs and aahs from the crowd at the sound made by the slap of strings on ball under the Centre Court roof.
There were too many errors to go with the winners, though, and an over-cooked forehand on break point at 1-1 in the second set put Djokovic firmly in control.
Sinner had a chance in the contentious fourth game to retrieve the deficit immediately only to net another forehand and, although Djokovic showed signs of stress, gesticulating towards his box, he found his first serve again just when he needed it most to serve out a two-set lead.
Djokovic’s biggest weapon is arguably his ability to lock in at the most important moments and that – helped by 15 years extra experience – was the main difference between the two players.
Italy’s Jannik Sinner reacts during his semi final match against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts during his Men’s Singles semi-final match
Italy’s Jannik Sinner returns to Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in a men’s singles semi-final match
Novak Djokovic of Serbia prepares to play a shot against Jannik Sinner of Italy
Jannik Sinner in action against Novak Djokovic during the Gentlemen’s Singles semi-final on day twelve of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships
Sinner produced his own clutch serving to recover from 0-40 at 1-1 in the third set and looked the better player for much of the remainder of it but he could not capitalise on an early lead in the tie-break as Djokovic claimed a 21st win from his last 22 slam semi-finals.
Although he lost today, Sinner still has a lot to shout about.
The Italian polygot – who has his own logo – is a top 10 tennis player, was a former skiing champion as a junior, is a successful model with Gucci and even has his own dedicated ‘Carota Boys’ fan club.
Alongside world No 1 Carlos Alcaraz, he is the poster boy for the ‘next generation’.
Born in August 2001 in San Candido, a small town in northern Italy near to the Austrian border, Sinner grew up in humble surroundings with parents Hanspeter and Siglinde.
Sinner, who saw off Roman Safiullin to reach the last four, left home at 13 to really make a success of tennis.