Wimbledon 2021: Novak Djokovic overcomes Denis Shapovalov to setup final against Matteo Berrettini

Defending champion Novak Djokovic absorbed a barrage of powerful hitting from Canadian Denis Shapovalov to reach his seventh Wimbledon final, with a 7-6(3) 7-5 7-5 victory that kept the indefatigable Serb on course to write history.

The 34-year-old was eclipsed at times by his 22-year-old opponent on an overcast Centre Court but, as he almost always does, converted his chances in clinical fashion to set up a Monday (NZ time) showdown with Italian Matteo Berrettini.

Tenth seed Shapovalov was bidding to become only the second Canadian man to reach the Wimbledon final and despite producing some scintillating tennis, he was left pondering what might have been after failing to crack the toughest nut in the business.

He struck 40 winners but whenever Djokovic found himself in peril, he manned the barricades, saving 10 of the 11 break points he faced and making only 15 unforced errors, as he refused to be derailed in his pursuit of a 20th Grand Slam title.

Djokovic won the opening set despite Shapovalov serving for it at 5-4, then saved several break points in the second, as his opponent threw the kitchen sink at the five-time champion.

Even in the third set Shapovalov continued shooting from the hip but eventually his fire blew out, as Djokovic claimed one of the toughest straight sets wins of his Wimbledon career.

Shapovalov left the court with tears in his eyes but he showed enough in a marvellous run to suggest that he is ready to challenge for the biggest prizes in tennis. 

Matteo Berrettini.
Matteo Berrettini. Photo credit: Getty

Meanwhile, seventh seed Matteo Berrettini stayed solid in the face of a spirited fightback from Poland's Hubert Hurkacz to become the first Italian to reach the Wimbledon final with a 6-3 6-0 6-7(3) 6-4 victory.

The 25-year-old took two hours and 36 minutes to get past the 14th seeded Hurkacz on Centre Court to reach the championship match - the same day Italy play in the Euro 2020 soccer final a few miles up the road at Wembley Stadium against England.

Waiting for Berrettini on the opposite side of the net will be either world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, a five-time Wimbledon winner, or Canadian 10th seed Denis Shapovalov.

"I have no words," Berrettini said in his on-court interview. "I need, I think, couple of hours to understand what happened. I just know that I played a great match. I'm really happy. I'm really glad to be here.

"I think I never dreamed about this because it was too much for a dream."

Berrettini's success in the past fortnight has not been entirely out of the blue, as he arrived at the All England Club after winning his fifth tour-level title at Queen's.

He was the first player to win the Wimbledon warm-up event on his debut appearance since Boris Becker in 1985 and remains on course to match the German's feat of completing the Queen's Club-Wimbledon double in the same year.

Friday's victory also made Berrettini the first Italian man to reach a Grand Slam final since Adriano Panatta won the Roland Garros title in 1976.

It was billed as a tight contest between the first-time Wimbledon semi-finalists, who were evenly matched in their ability to serve big and came into the match with a 1-1 head-to-head record.

While Berrettini defeated Hurkacz in straight sets in the Australian Open qualifying draw in 2018, the Pole had returned the favour when they met the following year in Miami.

And following Hurkacz's morale-boosting quarter-final win over eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in straight sets, including a bagel in the third, few would have doubted his credentials against Berrettini.

But it was the Italian who got off to a crisp start and then dominated the contest, blasting 60 winners, including 22 aces.