Novak Djokovic shrugged off the controversy of being docked by a point for putting opponent Jannik Sinner off to storm into a record 35th Grand Slam final. The defending champion clashed with umpire Richard Haigh after being penalised for hindrance following a loud and late mid-rally grunt in the fourth game of the second set on Centre Court.
But nothing could deflect the iron-willed Djokovic from his mission as he went on to defeat the Italian 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 to reach Sunday’s final where he will attempt to equal Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon men’s singles titles. Sinner, who took Djokovic to five sets in last year’s quarterfinal, had his chances but could not take them and the ruthless, machine-like Serb made him pay.
He broke Sinner at the first time of asking in what proved to be the pivotal game of the first set and pushed on to take it despite the Italian twice fashioning break points. It wasn’t as if Djokovic was playing out of his skin but he just found a way. He won more points on his second serve than his first in the opening set.
When it came to closing time though he moved up a gear, thundering down three aces to take the first set 6-3. Sinner, 14 years the younger, was broken early again in the second set after mis-hitting a long forehand but then came the drama.
Djokovic roared prematurely after hitting what he thought was a backhand winner but the scrambling Sinner retrieved it, prompting the umpire Richard Haigh to call ‘hindrance’ and apply the penalty. Two sinners on the same court? Djokovic was wide-eyed in disbelief and asked the Yorkshire official ‘what are you doing?’ but his remonstrations were in vain.
From 15-30 Sinner was able to work another break point and it looked like he would nail it this time but Djokovic’s retrieval skills kept him in the point and the No 8 seed netted an inviting forehand. The defending champion then received a time violation from the umpire to add to his troubles but despite all the furore he held and he produced another clinical service game to take the set.