Novak Djokovic makes Wimbledon Centre Court demand ahead of Matteo Berrettini final

Tennis Grand Slams: Who is the greatest of all time?

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Novak Djokovic is one more win away from his record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title – and the world No 1 finally wants the backing of the Centre Court crowd as he bids to make more history. The Serbian superstar fought off a brave challenge from Denis Shapovalov to win 7-6, 7-5, 7-5 in a thrilling semi-final.

And the defending champion will now face Matteo Berrettini after the Roman set up his nation’s super sporting Sunday by becoming the first Italian to reach the final here.

Djokovic will be the hot favourite to win his sixth Wimbledon title in his 30th Grand Slam final – and complete the third leg of a calendar Grand Slam.

And the Australian and French Open champion also has the chance to draw level with the record of 20 major titles held by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

“Particularly at this stage of my career, the Grand Slams are everything,” said the Serb.

“That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m playing. I have put myself in a very good position.

“I have been very privileged to make history of the sport that I truly love. It fills my heart that there is something on the line that is historic, it inspires and motivates me, but at the same time I have to balance it out and be present in the moment, and win only the next match.”

In the 2019 final against Roger Federer, the Centre Court crowd supported the Swiss and even booed the Serb. This time will an English crowd support Italy before the Euro 2020 final or the GOAT in waiting?

“I hope that I will have the stadium on my side,” said Djokovic. “Every player hopes in big matches that he’s going to have a majority of the crowd behind him. It’s a big difference.

“Berrettini is kind of an underdog in his first Grand Slam final. But hopefully people can also recognise the importance of this match for me, the history that is on the line.”

Djokovic, 34, showed his experience in his 41st Grand Slam semi-final against the 22-year-old Canadian in his first.

The No 10 seed’s frustration boiled over when he lost the second set following an over-rule.

On the 40th anniversary of John McEnroe’s “You cannot be serious” rant, he paid tribute with his own version to the umpire Renaud Lichtenstein: “He called it 30 minutes before my shot. Are you joking?”

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Next up is world No 9 Berrettini who saw off Roger Federer’s conqueror Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 6-0, 6-7, 6-4 with the help of 22 aces.

The Roman’s emotions were more than matched by every Italian journalist in his press conference who thanked him profusely. One threatened to cry.

“It feels great,” said the No 7 seed. “I mean, it would have felt great even if I wasn’t the first Italian!”

David Beckham, who was watching from the Royal Box, will not want to watch a similar display of Italian domination at Wembley tomorrow as the big-serving Berrettini won his 11th consecutive match on grass.

“Sunday will be a great sporting day,” Berrettini said. “I would say buy a nice TV if you don’t have one already because I think it’s going to be a special Sunday for all of us.”

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