It says a lot about Novak Djokovic that a two-sets-to-none hole at Wimbledon on a day he was hardly at his best never seemed insurmountable. Not to him. Not to anyone watching.
It says a lot about his history of overcoming that sort of deficit. A lot about his skill to adjust, to adapt and to right himself. A lot about his preeminence at the All England Club in recent years.
Djokovic spotted 10th-seeded Jannik Sinner of Italy the huge lead Tuesday, then worked his way back to win 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 at Centre Court, earning an 11th semifinal berth at Wimbledon with his 26th consecutive triumph at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament.
“I always believed,” said Djokovic, who faces ninth-seeded Cam Norrie of Britain next, “that I could turn the match around.”
Among men, only Roger Federer has made more semifinal appearances at Wimbledon with 13 and won more championships (eight) than the seven Djokovic could reach by lifting the trophy Sunday for what would be a fourth year in a row. “He makes you play differently — well, not differently, but in a way that he likes,” Sinner said.
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Norrie edged David Goffin of Belgium 3-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5, earning the right to make his debut in a Grand Slam semifinal.
“Can’t enjoy it too much now,” said Norrie, 26, who was born in South Africa to British parents, grew up in New Zealand and played tennis at Texas Christian University. “Just get ready for Novak in a couple days.”
Djokovic, 35, from Serbia, managed his seventh career comeback in a match in which he trailed by two sets — he last did it in the 2021 French Open final versus Stefanos Tsitsipas — and improved to 37-10 in five-setters. That includes a 10-1 mark in matches that go the distance at Wimbledon, including nine straight victories; the lone loss came in 2006.
“He’s been in this situation many times,” Sinner, 20, said. “That definitely helps.”
Tuesday’s match brought Sinner’s major quarterfinal appearance total to three, which is exactly 50 fewer than Djokovic’s.
Sinner has shown enormous potential, reaching the quarterfinals at the 2020 French Open before losing to Rafael Nadal and the 2022 Australian Open before losing to Tsitsipas. As for grass? Sinner was 0-4 until last week. But he got win No. 1 at Wimbledon by eliminating three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka and then defeated a pair of seeded foes: No. 20 John Isner and No. 5 Carlos Alcaraz.
With his wide wingspan, and a Djokovic-style ability to slide into strokes, the 6-foot-2 Sinner gets to balls that appear out of reach and is able to reply with considerable power. That allows him to lengthen exchanges and make even a consummate baseliner like Djokovic put in extra work to earn a point.
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