WIMBLEDON, England — Novak Djokovic closed in on a record-tying eighth title at Wimbledon and fifth in a row by repeatedly serving his way out of potential trouble to beat Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the semifinals on Friday.
Djokovic saved all six break points he faced — including a pair that were set points for the eighth-seeded Sinner at 5-4 in the third — and reached 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 to 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.
Because of rain in the morning, all four remaining men warmed up under a closed retractable roof. Medvedev, who hasn’t been scheduled to play on Centre Court all tournament until now, was allowed to hold his hitting session there; the three other semifinalists trained at No. 1 Court.
Medvedev is Russian and so was banned, along with all athletes from that country and Belarus, from competing at Wimbledon a year ago because of the war in Ukraine.
With the main stadium covered Friday, the grass was slick and slippery during Djokovic vs. Sinner. Both men encountered some difficulty with the footing; both repeatedly smacked the soles of their shoes with their rackets to try to remove grass and dirt that got stuck in there.
Ultimately, the difference came down to Djokovic’s ability to hold serve.
During his half-dozen matches over the past two weeks, Djokovic has won 111 of his 114 service games and saved 20 of 23 break points.
Taking on Djokovic represented a significant rise in the level of competition for Sinner. Until Friday, not only had he not faced a single seeded player, but he had gone up against opponents with these rankings: 79th, 85th, 98th and 111th.
No one in the half-century history of computerized tennis rankings — men’s and women’s — has spent more weeks at No. 1 than Djokovic, who currently is No. 2. But that number does not reflect his form at the moment: He does not lose at Wimbledon or at any major tournament, for that matter.
The age gap between Djokovic, 36, and Sinner, 21, was the largest between Wimbledon men’s semifinalists in the Open era. Djokovic would be the oldest champion at Wimbledon since professionals were first allowed to compete that year.
This was Djokovic’s 46th major semifinal and Sinner’s first. Sinner was quite close to reaching that stage a year ago at the All England Club: He took a two-set lead in the quarterfinals against Djokovic, who came all the way back to win in five.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.