NOVAK Djokovic barely got out of second gear as he swept past subdued Italian eighth seed Jannik Sinner at Wimbledon, easing into a record 35th Grand Slam final with a whirlwind 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4) victory under the Centre Court roof yesterday.
Djokovic has turned the famous show court into his own personal fiefdom having not lost there in 10 years and the Serbian is one win away from a record-equalling eighth men’s title at the grasscourt major to match Roger Federer’s mark.
Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz delivered the Wimbledon final the world wants to see with a brutal, and at times breathtaking, demolition job on unfortunate Russian Daniil Medvedev, roaring to a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory.
The 20-year-old phenomenon will now face a battle of the generations against 36-year-old seven-time champion Djokovic.
The 21-year-old Sinner was outclassed, falling flat on the big occasion and allowing Djokovic to turn the screw at key moments in the contest.
He let break points slip through his fingers, including two set points in the third, while Djokovic was clinical as usual, applying constant pressure on the Italian’s serve and pouncing on opportunities when they arose.
The second seed wrapped up the match when Sinner dumped a backhand into the net, leaving the Serbian to accept the applause of the crowd, who had cheered his opponent throughout.
Djokovic does not appear to be slowing down as the years pass and will be a heavy favourite to become the oldest man in the Open era at 36 to win the Wimbledon title.
“I’d like to believe that’s the case,” he said when asked if he was playing the best tennis of his career.
“We are part of an individual sport so you have to rely on yourself and put yourself in the best physical and mental state before heading out on court.
“I feel 36 is the new 26, it feels pretty good. I feel a lot of motivation.”
For seven games under the roof this felt like it could be a contest as third seed Medvedev, who like Alcaraz was contesting his first Wimbledon semi-final, kept pace with the top seed.
But from the moment Alcaraz broke the Medvedev serve for a 5-3 lead in the opening set it felt as though he had the grandest stage in tennis to himself with a virtuoso display.
Grand Slam semi-finals are supposed to be hard labour but at times world number one Alcaraz toyed with his opponent, working through his extensive arsenal of weapons to dismantle the 27-year-old in merciless fashion.
Two nonchalant service breaks sealed the second set and the Spaniard accelerated towards victory with another one early in the third set as Medvedev’s shoulders slumped.
Like a lion toying with its prey, the top seed offered back a couple of service breaks with some over-casual tennis but the respite was brief and Medvedev was put out of his misery in one hour and 50 minutes as Alcaraz seized on a drop shot and whipped away a forehand winner.
He is the third Spaniard to reach the Wimbledon men’s singles final after Manuel Santana and Rafa Nadal and the fourth youngest in the professional era.
Djokovic, who overwhelmed Alcaraz in the French Open semi-finals last month, is bidding for a record-equalling eighth Wimbledon crown to become the oldest men’s champion and match Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slams.
The Serbian has not lost on Centre Court for 10 years, but Alcaraz said he is ready for the challenge.
“Everybody knows it’s going to be really difficult but I will fight, I will believe that I can beat him here,” the reigning US Open champion said on court.