Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic into semifinals after rally from two sets down

Novak Djokovic
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Novak Djokovic escaped from a two-set deficit for his 26th consecutive Wimbledon match win, rallying past Italian Jannik Sinner 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 into the semifinals.

Sinner, a 20-year-old Italian seeded 10th, was in position for his first victory over a top-five player in his 13th try. But things unraveled, starting with being broken in his second service game of the third set. Djokovic, meanwhile, held serve throughout the last three sets.

The top-ranked Serb cited a toilet break — a “little pep talk in the mirror” — after losing the first two sets that helped turn it around.

“Sinner, coming into the match, didn’t have much to lose, but he had a lot to lose when he was two sets to love up,” Djokovic said. “I could feel that mentally with him.”

Djokovic, bidding for a fourth consecutive Wimbledon title and 21st career major singles title, advanced to a Friday semifinal date with No. 9 seed Cameron Norrie of Great Britain, who took out 58th-ranked David Goffin of Belgium in five sets.

“I know what to expect in terms of the crowd support,” Djokovic said of Norrie, the fourth British man to make the Wimbledon semis in the Open Era (since 1968). “For him, not much to lose. Every victory from now onwards is a big deal for him.”

Rafael Nadal, the record 22-time men’s major singles champion, is in the other half of the draw. Nadal plays No. 11 Taylor Fritz in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Djokovic has just one defeat in a completed Wimbledon match in nearly nine years (Sam Querrey, 2016) and no losses in a completed match to a man seeded lower than fifth at any Slam since the 2018 French Open (Marco Cecchinato).

Dating to 2003, every Wimbledon men’s singles champion has been a member of the Big Four: Nadal, Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

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At last year’s Wimbledon, Djokovic won a third consecutive major and 20th overall to then tie Nadal and Federer for the men’s career record. He was denied a Grand Slam by Russian Danill Medvedev at the U.S. Open, denied entry into the Australian Open because of his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and lost in the French Open quarterfinals to Nadal.

Nadal now owns a record 22 major titles after winning the last two. Djokovic cannot pass Nadal until 2023 at the earliest, and he might have to miss the next two majors — the U.S. Open and Australian Open — because of his refusal to get vaccinated.

“What happens after Wimbledon is really unpredictable at the moment, so I don’t pay attention too much to that,” Djokovic said. “I try to focus my thoughts here, and then we will see what happens afterwards.”

Earlier, Tatjana Maria, a 34-year-old mother of two ranked No. 103, beat 97th-ranked Jule Niemeier 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 in an all-German quarterfinal. It marked the lowest combined ranking of an all-unseeded Wimbledon quarterfinal since 1999 (Alexandra Stevenson d. Jelena Dokic).

“I always believed that I have something inside that I can do this,” said Maria, who has an 8-year-old daughter, Charlotte, and 1-year-old daughter, Cecilia. “I always believed in this, but to be now here in this spot … I mean, like I said, one year ago I gave birth to my second daughter.”

Maria, who made it past the second round once in 46 prior majors (including qualifying) dating to 2007, is the oldest first-time women’s major semifinalist in the Open Era. She is also the lowest-ranked unseeded Wimbledon semifinalist since 2008.

Maria emphasized her role as a mom supersedes her greatest accomplishment in tennis.

“After this I will go out over there and I will see my kids and I will do the same thing what I do every single day,” she said. “I will change her Pampers.”

She next gets No. 3 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, who rallied from a set down to beat 66th-ranked Czech Marie Bouzkova in the quarterfinals. Jabeur was the only top-10 women’s seed to make the final eight.

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