Spanish world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz celebrates after defeating third-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in the Wimbledon semifinals on 14 July 2023 in London, United Kingdom. Alcaraz won 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. EFE/EPA/TOLGA AKMEN

Wimbledon: Djokovic, Alcaraz set up dream final

London, Jul 14 (EFE).- Seven-time champion Novak Djokovic and world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz both cruised to convincing victories on Friday to set-up a dream Wimbledon men’s singles final.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action during his men's singles Wimbledon semifinal match against Jannik Sinnner of Italy on 14 July 2023 in London, United Kingdom. Djokovic won 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4). EFE/EPA/NEIL HALL EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Those two players were the clear favorites in their respective halves of the draw and have shown few chinks in their armor through six matches.

Spanish world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz hits a backhand volley during his Wimbledon semifinal match against third-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev on 14 July 2023 in London, United Kingdom. Alcaraz won 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. EFE/EPA/ISABEL INFANTES

That was the case once again in the semifinals, with Djokovic defeating Italian rising star Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) before Alcaraz trounced third-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to advance to his first Wimbledon final.

Third-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev reacts during his Wimbledon semifinal match against Spanish world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz on 14 July 2023 in London, United Kingdom. Alcaraz won 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. CEFE/EPA/ISABEL INFANTES

Djokovic looked to start strong Friday against Sinner and avoid a repeat of last year’s Wimbledon quarterfinals, when he needed to rally from a two-set deficit to defeat the big-hitting Italian.

That focus paid off in the early going when he secured a service break in the second game and kept that advantage until the end of the opening set.

Sinner had two break points in the opening game and one more in the fifth game, but clutch serving by the Serbian great allowed him to get out of trouble each time.

The second set also went according to plan for the Grand Slam record holder, with Sinner gifting him a service break in the third game with an errant forehand that sailed over the baseline.

Although Djokovic had to save one break point in the following game, he managed to hold his nerve and keep his head in front.

The 36-year-old Serbian great also continued to serve with pinpoint accuracy, capping off the second set with a perfectly placed ace out wide in the deuce court.

The 21-year-old Sinner, to his credit, never wavered in his belief and came close to winning the third set and extending the match.

But unforced errors on the biggest points proved costly, particularly when he held two set points with Djokovic serving at 4-5 and then again in the tiebreaker.

The gap between the two players was small on the stat sheet, with Sinner striking more winners (44 to Djokovic’s 33) and winning a nearly equal percentage of first-serve points (76 percent versus 75 percent) and second-serve points (56 percent to 60 percent)

But it was yawning in terms of their clutch play on big points, as Djokovic’s experience gave him the decisive edge.

“I’d like to believe (I’m playing the best tennis of my life). I try not to look at age as a factor or a hindrance. Thirty-six is the new 26,” Djokovic said after winning his 34th consecutive match at the All England Club.

In the second semifinal, Medvedev fared better at the start of the match than he did in a lopsided loss to Alcaraz in the Indian Wells final in March.

But Alcaraz struck first blood in the eighth game when he broke the Russian’s serve for a 5-3 lead and really never looked back.

The second set then was more lopsided than the first, with Alcaraz breaking the Russian’s serve on two occasions, including in the final game.

In the third set, the Russian earned two service breaks yet only was able to hold his own serve once in four attempts.

Alcaraz finished off the contest with one of the best points of the match, sprinting side to side before racing to the net to fire a forehand passing shot winner into the far corner.

Like in their previous match on hard courts four months ago, the 20-year-old Alcaraz showcased a more complete game than his 27-year-old opponent, who unsuccessfully tried once again to lure the Spaniard into errors.

Instead Alcaraz used his power from the baseline, outstanding speed, delicate touch on drop shots and timely use of serve-and-volley plays to dismantle Medvedev’s defense.

The Russian’s tactic of standing meters behind the baseline to return serve was largely ineffective against Alcaraz.

But an even bigger problem was his inability to control his own service games, as he was broken six times in just three sets.

“It’s a dream for me to be able to play a final here in Wimbledon,” Alcaraz said afterward.

“I’m going to enjoy this amazing moment; it’s the time to keep dreaming.”

In Sunday’s championship match, Djokovic and Alcaraz will renew a rivalry whose most recent installment came in the French Open semifinals a few weeks ago and left tennis fans eager for more.

In that contest on the clay at Stade Roland Garros, the two were tied at a set apiece after numerous intense rallies.

But the tense lead-up to the match and the pressure on court took is toll on Alcaraz, who suffered across-body cramps early in the third set and ended up losing by a disappointing scoreline of 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 that did not reflect how evenly matched they were.

The Spaniard will now look to better manage his emotions before Sunday’s final, which could have the makings of a classic if both players bring their best level.

Alcaraz will be seeking his second Grand Slam title and first Wimbledon championship.

Djokovic, meanwhile, is now one win away from equaling Swiss great Roger Federer’s record haul of eight Wimbledon men’s singles titles. EFE