Djokovic triumphed 6-2 4-6 6-3 6-2 over Spain’s Batista Agut as he targets a fifth Wimbledon title and 16th grand slam overall.
The Serb looked to be at his very best for long periods of the match but Batista Agut, not at all overawed by the occasion in his first grand slam semifinal, matched his opponent’s brilliance at times.
But the unrelenting Djokovic was too strong for the 23rd seed and will meet the winner of Federer vs.Nadal in their first clash at Wimbledon since the epic 2008 final.
Facing Djokovic was described as like playing against a “wall” by his quarterfinal opponent David Goffin, and Batista Agut quickly discovered what the Belgian was talking about.
There has arguably never been a better returner of serve in the history of the game as Djokovic and few can match his speed, athleticism and flexibility on a tennis court.
In the opening exchanges, Batista Agut seemed to be feeling the pressure of needing to hit two or three extra shots before finding a way through Djokovic’s defense.
Four nervous errors on his forehand — his favored side and by quite some distance his most effective shot — allowed Djokovic to break in his first service game.
When playing against the world No. 1, every shot needs to be executed to near-perfection and too many of Batista Agut’s were far from perfect.
Forehands were too short or too wide and attempted drop shots were sitting up nicely for Djokovic in the middle of the court.
In the blink of eye, the Spaniard was two breaks of serve down and after 35 minutes the first set belonged to Djokovic.
Second set shock
It felt as though this semifinal would flash past Batista Agut before he would even have the chance to start playing but as Djokovic’s level dropped at the start of the second set, the Spaniard pounced.
Perhaps the tennis gods were smiling down on Batista Agut, too, as a string broke on Djokovic’s racket when serving at 15-30 to gift his opponent two break points.
Batista Agut capitalized and, despite squandering two more break points in Djokovic’s next service game, held firm and saw out the remainder of the set in confident fashion to level the match.
By the time the third set was well under way, signs of frustration were beginning to creep into Djokovic’s demeanor.
After a lazy volley at 2-2, he mistakenly let Batista Agut’s forehand sail past him and looked back to see it land well inside the baseline.
Djokovic shrugged his shoulders and raised his arms, glaring in the direction of his supporters’ box.
But what makes Djokovic such a nightmare for opponents is his ability to raise his game when it matters. Just a game later he broke Batista Agut to make it 4-2 with an emphatic overhead smash and pumped his fist into the air.
Djokovic was forced to saved two straight break points in his next service game, the second coming with the 45th shot of a brutally long rally — by far the longest of the match — crunching a stunning backhand down the line.
He held serve two points later and let out a bellowing, cathartic roar that reverberated around Centre Court.
That, you felt, was that. With the third set on a knife edge, Djokovic came out on top and Batista Agut looked deflated.
The Serb raced into a 5-1 lead in the fourth, before eventually booking his place in Sunday’s showpiece final with his third match point.