Djokovic stands tall in slugfest

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Novak Djokovic defeated heroic Juan Martin del Potro 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-7 (6/8), 6-3 on Friday in the longest Wimbledon semi-final in history to move into his 11th Grand Slam title match.

In a titanic struggle played out over four hours and 43 minutes, world no. 1 Djokovic squandered two match points in the fourth set tiebreak before going on to seal a final berth.
Djokovic, bidding for a seventh Grand Slam crown, fired 22 aces and 80 winners in his breathtaking win over the luckless Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, who had been hoping to become just the second Argentine to make the Wimbledon final.
Del Potro, who had defeated the Serb for the Olympic bronze medal at Wimbledon last year, had matched Djokovic blow for blow in the first set but had to bat back a break point in the sixth game to stay on level terms.
At 6-5, Djokovic stepped it up, a backhand from off his toes landing in the corner before a backhand off-balance from the Argentine sailed long. The Serb sensed blood and a wide forehand from the suddenly besieged Del Potro gave the world no. 1 the opener.
Del Potro called for the doctor after slipping down 3-2 in the second set, but the consultation didn’t remedy his problems against the top seed as he immediately had to fend off four break points.
However, buoyed by his defiance, Del Potro broke for a 4-3 edge, the second point of the game clinched by chasing down a Djokovic drop shot which he dinked over cross-court.
Del Potro just about backed it up for 5-3 before he went on to level the tie on a sun-baked Centre Court. Djokovic fought off a break point in the fifth game of the third set and two more in the seventh before the Argentine had to save three set points in the 12th, the last courtesy of a 90mph winner. But Djokovic cruised through the tiebreak.
Del Potro was beginning to wilt in the 26-degree heat and Djokovic took advantage, breaking for 4-3 as another fierce return landed on the Argentine’s toes.
However, Del Potro wasn’t finished and brought the crowd to their feet by breaking back for 4-4 and saving two match points in the breaker. In the decider, Djokovic fought off a break point in the fifth game before Del Potro saved one in the sixth.
The Argentine cracked to trail 3-5, Djokovic saved another break point as he served for the match in the ninth game before he claimed his epic win with a huge forehand.

Bopanna ousted in mixed quarters
The Indo-Chinese pairing of Rohan Bopanna Jie Zheng lost their mixed doubles quarter-final to Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands and Russian Vera Dushevina in a close three-set encounter in London on Thursday. The Dutch-Russian combine beat their opponents 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to enter the semi-finals.

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