LONDON, ENGLAND – Defending champion Novak Djokovic is joined by three Wimbledon semi-final debutants in the Wimbledon semi-finals.
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Novak Djokovic  v Denis Shapovalov  | H2H & Match Fundamentals
Denis Shapovalovedged past Karen Khachanov in five sets on Wednesday to earn a place in his first grand slam semi-final. His reward is a match against the 19-time grand slam and defending champion Novak Djokovic, who is in his 10th Wimbledon semi-final.
Defending champion Djokovic, as expected, is into the semi-finals of Wimbledon in superior form. Since losing the first set to Jack Draper, the Serb has won 15 sets in a row as he looks towards a record-equalling 20th grand slam title.
What may not have been expected is who his semi-final opponent is on Friday. As Stefanos Tsitsipas crashed out in the opening round, it was Shapovalov who took advantage.
Since Rome, the Canadian has been on top form having had match points in a three and a half hour battle against Rafael Nadal in Italy. Furthermore Shapovalov backed that up with a final in Geneva and despite withdrawing from Roland Garros has not let his momentum slip.
Five set wins over Philipp Kohlschreiber and Khachanov with sandwiched with convincing victories over Andy Murray and Roberto Bautista Agut all but confirming his well-earned place in the last four.
For Djokovic regardless of his perception from the outside world it’s about making his own history.
“I’m not chasing anybody. I’m making my own path and my own journey, my own history, I’m privileged to be part of history of this sport that I love. As I said on the court, I know about a lot of stats. I don’t know about all of them. But they do motivate me even more to play my best tennis at the events that count the most in our sport. I’m pleased with the way I’ve been feeling and hitting the ball, as I said. I’m confident.”
As for Shapovalov it’s all about thinking positively and believing that anything is possible regardless of who the opposition is.
“It’s nothing I’m really thinking about too much. Like I said, going back to it again, when you walk out on that match, it’s 0-0. That’s it. It’s a tennis match at the end of the day. Experience, this, that, it comes down to that moment and who’s playing the best. That’s all I’m focused on. I’m going to talk with the team about strategy and stuff like that. But I’m not thinking about experience, this, that. It really comes down to who’s playing the best on Friday and that’s it. Nothing’s ever guaranteed.”
Although the head-to-head doesn’t reflect kindly on Shapovalov some of the battles have been tight matches especially on hard courts and this will be their first meeting on grass.
For Djokovic the key to victory is his ability to make Shapovalov uncomfortable from the back of the court and getting the Canadian to hit tough shots as his match with Khachanov showed that the 10th seed can make a lot of unforced errors.
As for the Canadian, his first serve will be crucial in this contest and how he can dictate play from it. So far during these Championships it has been his main focal point and the reason why he is into the last four.
This will be Djokovic’s toughest test of the tournament and it will be a real chance for Shapovalov to show his talent on the big stage. However it should be a match-up that will suit the Serb in his bid for grand slam number 20.
When the draw was revealed, many experts predicted that Berrettini would be in contention to reach the last four of Wimbledon after his impressive week in Queen’s Club. Add to the fact that his big serve and massive forehand would always be a weapon on a grass court.
However many people had thought that the Italian would face Daniil Medvedev or Federer in Friday’s semi-finals. So up-steps Hurkacz to ruin all of those plans with the 14th seed not only ending his six match losing streak but managing to beat both Medvedev or Federer en route to the semi-finals.
Both players are into their first Wimbledon semi-final and for Berrettini a sense of relief and happiness are the overriding emotions of making the last four at Wimbledon.
“I’m extremely happy for my win, for the fact that I’m through to the semis for the first time here in Wimby, for the fact that I really played a tough match. Right now I just want to enjoy this moment, because it’s been two years since I was in my first semis, so now it’s time to cheer a little bit.”
As for Hurkacz it’s his first grand slam semi-final and self-belief is the key in reaching the last four at Wimbledon.
“Here, after winning couple of matches, I really gained confidence, gained momentum. I believed in myself a lot before that game today. I was trying always to believe myself during the match and just trust my game and stay as aggressive as I could. That what I was trying to focus on throughout the match.”
This match will see Hurkacz’s big serve against Berrettini’s big forehand with both players expected to be nervous with so much on the line. In the end the Italian’s confidence could edge him over the finishing line but will need to calm the early storm from the 14th seed.
Prediction: Berrettini in five sets.
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