Shapovalov was probably the better player: Djokovic

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic had all the praise for No. 10 seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada after the Serbian came through a tough three-setter to earn a place in the Wimbledon final against Italy’s Matteo Berrettini here.

Djokovic, who is on the verge of a record-tying 20th Grand Slam with Swiss ace Roger Federer and Spaniard Rafael Nadal said, “I don’t think that the scoreline says enough about the performance and about the match. He (Shapovalov) was serving for the first set and he was probably the better player for most of the second set,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview on Friday evening.

“He had many chances and I would like to give him a big round of applause for everything that he has done today and these two weeks.”

Djokovic rallied from a break down in the first set and withstood a stiff challenge from Shapovalov to win in two hours and 44 minutes.

The Serbian has not lost a set since his first set of the tournament against home favourite Jack Draper. He joins Roger Federer as the only two men to reach 30 Grand Slam finals (Federer has made 31).

A win on Sunday will give the top seed his third major trophy of the season and move him to within a US Open crown of completing the calendar year Grand Slam.

“In (the) important moments, I think I probably held my nerves better than he did and just made him play an extra shot, made him (make) an unforced error,” Djokovic said.

“It’s tough to play Denis, particularly on grass and quicker surfaces with the lefty serve that he’s got. He can hit any spot. I think he’s one of the best servers on the tour, without a doubt. When he’s on, when he’s feeling that serve, it’s a weapon on any surface against anyone,” said Djokovic, who now has won six consecutive semi-finals at the All England Club.

Djokovic leads Berrettini 2-0 in their ATP head-to-head, but with the Italian playing the best tennis of his career, the Serbian said when he steps on the court for the final there will be no “holding back”.

“There is no holding back once you step out on the court, particularly in the later stages of an event that I always dreamt of winning. The dream keeps going. I am trying to take out the maximum of my own abilities every single match and see what happens. Giving up is never an option.”

This is the first time Djokovic has advanced to the Wimbledon final with the loss of just one set. The Serbian lost two sets en route to the championship match at the All England Club in 2013, 2015 and 2019.