Novak Djokovichas brought Roberto Bautista Agut’s extended Wimbledon stag celebration to a halt, defeating the No.23 seed 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to reach the final here for the sixth time. The engaged-to-be married Spaniard was scheduled to be marking the end of his bachelorhood days on Ibiza with half a dozen mates. Instead the merry band thronged Bautista Agut’s player box with the intention of making Centre Court the most decorous party venue in history. With two wins over Djokovic already in 2019, Bautista Agut had a fine old time as he tested the defending champion, but after two hours and 49 minutes, this particular bash was done.
“It’s always a dream to be in the Wimbledon final again,” Djokovic told the BBC as he came off court. “I had to dig deep. Roberto was not overwhelmed by the stadium or the occasion. In the first set he was probably managing his nerves and making uncharacteristic errors but by the start of the second he was establishing himself, placing his serves really nicely. The opening four or five games of the third were where the match really could have gone a different way, and I’m just glad it went mine.”
Djokovic has never lost a Grand Slam semi-final to a player ranked as low as the No.23 seed, nor surrendered a last four joust at Wimbledon in seven years. For a while it looked worryingly as if the high point for the 31-year-old Spaniard might actually be the opening exchange of the match, when he sent a forehand return winner down the line. It was a cheery start, but one point later Djokovic removed his white cap as if he had already decided that there was nothing to dazzle him here, and thereafter he took control of the opening chapter.