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

Novak Djokovic

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.


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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Iga Swiatek wins third French Open title, fourth Grand Slam, but this final was not easy


Iga Swiatek won her third French Open title and her fourth Grand Slam overall, pushed to a third set in a major final for the first time.

Swiatek, a 22-year-old Pole, outlasted unseeded Czech Karolina Muchova 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 on Saturday at Roland Garros. Muchova tested Swiatek, the only singles player in the Open Era to win their first seven major final sets. She became the first player to take a set off Swiatek in the tournament.

Swiatek looked en route to another major final sweep, up 3-0 in the second set. She then committed 11 unforced errors (versus four winners) over the rest of the set as Muchova rallied back (with 10 winners versus 11 unforced errors).

Muchova then won the first eight points of the third set. Swiatek, under the most pressure of her career on the sport’s biggest stages, passed the test. The players exchanged breaks of serve, and Muchova had another break point for a chance to serve for the championship, but Swiatek fended her off.

“After so many ups and downs, I kind of stopped thinking about the score,” Swiatek said. “I wanted to use my intuition more because I knew that I can play a little bit better if I’m going to get a little bit more loosened up.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

No woman lower than the 14th seed has beaten both world Nos. 1 and 2 at a Grand Slam since the WTA rankings began in 1975. Muchova, ranked 43rd, nearly pulled it off.

“The feeling is a little bitter because I felt it was very close,” she said. “But overall, I mean, to call myself Grand Slam finalist, it’s amazing achievement.”

The French Open finishes Sunday with the men’s final. Novak Djokovic faces Casper Ruud, eyeing a 23rd major title to break his tie with Rafael Nadal for the men’s singles record. NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock air live coverage at 9 a.m. ET.

Go back to the fall 2020 French Open. Swiatek, a 54th-ranked teen, won the tournament without dropping a set for her first tour-level title.

Since, she climbed to the top of the rankings (and has stayed there for 62 weeks running), tied the longest WTA win streak in 32 years (37 matches in a row in 2022) and won majors on clay and hard courts.

She beat challengers from different categories in major finals: a Slam champ (Sofia Kenin), a teen phenom (Coco Gauff), an emerged rival (Ons Jabeur) and now an unseeded (because of injuries)-but-dangerous veteran in Muchova. Swiatek is the youngest woman to reach four major titles since Serena Williams in 2002.

Yet this French Open began with talk of a Big Three in women’s tennis rather than singular dominance. Since last year’s French Open, Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka and Russian-born Kazakh Elena Rybakina both won their first major and beat Swiatek multiple times.

Swiatek faced neither in Paris but still called it “a pretty stressful tournament,” noting a right thing injury that forced her to retire during her last match before the tournament.

Sabalenka was stunned by Muchova in Thursday’s semifinals, the erratic serving and nerves of her past reappearing. Rybakina had to withdraw earlier in the tournament due to illness.

Next up: the grass court season and Wimbledon, where Swiatek hasn’t made it past the fourth round in three tries. She did win the 2018 junior title at the All England Club. but Sabalenka and Rybakina have had more recent success there.

If Swiatek can lift the Venus Rosewater Dish, she will be an Australian Open shy of a career Grand Slam. Her chances of adding an Olympic gold medal to that collection are very high, given Roland Garros hosts tennis at the 2024 Paris Games.

“I’m not setting these crazy records or goals for myself,” she said. “I know that keeping it cool is the best way to do it for me.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Novak Djokovic into French Open final with records at stake after beating Carlos Alcaraz


Novak Djokovic heads into Sunday’s French Open final with all sorts of history at stake after eliminating a cramping Carlos Alcaraz in a showdown semifinal.

Djokovic faces Casper Ruud, eyeing a 23rd major title to break his tie with Rafael Nadal for the men’s singles record. NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock air live coverage at 9 a.m. ET.

On Friday, Djokovic took out the top seed Alcaraz 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1, but the match was even when Alcaraz began showing signs of right leg cramping. The 20-year-old Spaniard attributed it to the “tension” of the match, saying he was nervous for his first time facing Djokovic at a major.

“I have never felt something like I did today,” he said, adding that it was full-body cramps. “If someone says that he get into the court with no nerves playing against Novak, he lies.”

Alcaraz stopped play at 1-all in the third set and had trouble walking. He forfeited the next game, stipulated by the rules for receiving medical treatment for severe muscle cramping when not at a change of ends or end of a set.

Djokovic then won the next nine games. Alcaraz played with limited mobility and without the charismatic magic that’s charmed the tennis world.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

“First and foremost, I have to say tough luck for Carlos. I feel for him. I feel sorry,” Djokovic said to begin an on-court interview. “I told him at the net he knows how young he is. He’s got plenty of time ahead of him, so he’s going to win this tournament, I’m sure, many, many times.”

Djokovic was told of Alcaraz’s reasoning for the cramps.

“I have experienced that several times,” he said. “Early in my career I was struggling quite a bit physically. I can understand the emotions and circumstances that affect you mentally and emotionally.”

The semi was billed as perhaps the greatest inter-generational match in men’s tennis history, the first time that Alcaraz played a member of the Big Three at a major.

Their 16-year age gap was the largest to take place for men this deep in a major since the 1991 U.S. Open (Jim Courier d. Jimmy Connors) and the largest age gap for any major match between Slam champs since 2006 Wimbledon (Rafael Nadal d. Andre Agassi).

Unlike Friday, most of the previous torch-passing meetings took place when one man was not yet at his peak or the other was past his prime.

Typically, the younger player wins these types of duels. Djokovic, by prevailing over a foe 16 years younger this late in a major, broke the Open Era men’s age gap record of 14-plus years set by Roger Federer, who beat Hyeon Chung at the 2018 Australian Open.

Now, Djokovic heads to Sunday’s final as an overwhelming favorite against the Norwegian Ruud, a 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 winner over German Alexander Zverev in the later semifinal. Ruud was runner-up to Nadal at last year’s French Open and runner-up to Alcaraz at last year’s U.S. Open.

Djokovic can become the first man to win all four majors at least three times. He can break Nadal’s record as the oldest French Open singles champion.

“I’ve been very fortunate that most of the matches in tournaments I’ve played in the last few years, there is history on the line,” he said. “The motivation is very high, as you can imagine.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!