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Djokovic crushes British hopes to book Wimbledon final with Kyrgios

The six-time champion was too strong for home favorite Cameron Norrie.

Novak Djokovic remains in contention for a fourth successive Wimbledon title after the Serb beat Britain’s Cameron Norrie in four sets in their semifinal on Friday.

Top seed Djokovic fought back after dropping the first set to Norrie, emerging with a 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory to move into Sunday’s showpiece at the All England Club, where he will meet maiden Grand Slam finalist Nick Kyrgios.

Kyrgios will be better rested than Djokovic after the Australian was granted a walkover in his semifinal when Rafael Nadal was forced to pull out injured on Thursday evening.

Djokovic, 35, will still be hotly tipped to retain the crown he has won on the last three occasions at SW19.

The Serb could land a seventh overall title at the grass court Grand Slam, which would move him level in the all-time stakes with American great Pete Sampras and just one behind the record Wimbledon haul of Roger Federer.

For ninth seed Norrie, who was appearing in a maiden Grand Slam semifinal in front of his home crowd, it was an afternoon on Centre Court which began brightly enough before fading as Djokovic found his familiarly formidable groove.

Djokovic had seemed far from his best in a first set in which his serve was broken three times, although the defending champion began the second set with much more intent, securing the break of serve in game eight before leveling up at one set apiece.

Firmly in the ascendency, Djokovic broke at the first time of asking in the third set despite a nasty tumble mid-game, as he began to exert a stranglehold on the match.

The Centre Court crowd attempted to lift the home favorite with sporadic chants of “let’s go Norrie, let’s go,” but the impact was minimal as the 26-year-old Brit was broken again and Djokovic moved two sets to one ahead.

Perhaps mindful that he did not want to spend longer on court than necessary in a bid to conserve energy, Djokovic continued to turn the screws at the start of set four, again breaking the Norrie serve to start proceedings.

Norrie hung in there as best he could but Djokovic saw out the match to progress to an eighth final overall at Wimbledon.

Perhaps ominously for Kyrgios, Djokovic has lost just one of the previous seven finals at SW19, when he was beaten by home hero Andy Murray back in 2013.

Victory on Sunday would move the Serb to 21 Grand Slam titles overall, just one shy of Nadal, whose tournament and Calendar Grand Slam hopes came to a premature end as his injury struggles caught up with him in London.

But Kyrgios will not be taken lightly on Sunday, despite his unseeded status and the background noise of an impending court case for alleged assault in his homeland, with the maverick Australian capable of mixing it with the best on grass when finding form.

Perhaps giving Kyrgios extra confidence will be the knowledge that he leads Djokovic 2-0 head-to-head, with both meetings coming on hard courts in 2017, and the Australian has yet to drop a set to the man who stands in his way of lifting a maiden major trophy.

For Djokovic, however, the records and landmarks continue to mount. With his 27th consecutive win at Wimbledon and 85th overall at the competition on Friday, he reached a 32nd Grand Slam final to put him ahead of generational rival Roger Federer in the all-time stakes.

Speaking post-match, Djokovic confessed that he didn’t start off well with Norrie clearly the best player in the first set.

“I’ve had many semi-finals in Grand Slams in the past but it’s never easy walking out on court,” he said. “You have a lot of pressure and expectations on yourself and from others.”

Though Djokovic suggested that Norrie “didn’t have much to lose” with having never operated at this level before, he wished his opponent all the best.

“He’s a great player. I have a lot of respect for him,” Djokovic insisted, before pointing out that the “job is not finished” in reference to Kyrgios.

“One thing is for sure, there are going to be a lot of fireworks emotionally from both [players],” he predicted.

“It’s going to be his first Grand Slam final. Obviously he’s very excited and he doesn’t have much to lose. He’s playing so freely. He has one of the biggest serves in the game. We haven’t played for some time.”

“I’ve never won a set off him,” Djokovic also noted.

“Hopefully it can be different this time. It’s another final for me at Wimbledon so hopefully the experience can work in my favor.”

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