No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic rallied from two sets down Tuesday to defeat No. 10 seed Jannik Sinner of Italy and advance to the Wimbledon semifinals.
While Djokovic squandered a big lead in the first set and muddled through the second, he found his energy in the third and turned in a vintage performance the rest of the way for a 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win in London.
Playing in his first Wimbledon quarterfinal, the 20-year-old Sinner looked nervous in the first set, and a service break left Djokovic with a 4-1 cushion. But Sinner managed to break Djokovic in two of the Serbian’s next three service games to take a 6-5 lead and serve for the set.
A stunned Djokovic couldn’t rebound in the second set, losing serve twice and hitting only five winners against seven unforced errors. Sinner struck 11 winners compared to five unforced errors.
But between the second and third sets, Djokovic took a break, which included looking in the mirror and giving himself some encouragement.
“Where not much is happening positively for you on the court in terms of tennis, and the other guy on the court is dominating the play, sometimes you know these things are necessary,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview after the match. “You know — a little break and a little pep talk and try to recuperate — and I guess regather the thoughts and reassemble everything that you have and come at your opponent with the best possible game.”
And his strategy worked.
In the third set, the 35-year-old won points on 85 percent of his first serves and hit 11 winners compared to three unforced errors.
“I was fortunate to start off the third set very well,” Djokovic said. “I broke his serve early in the set and I think that has given me a confidence boost and I saw a little bit of a doubt in his game, in his movement. And I guess the experience of playing on this stage for many matches helped me a little bit, too, to deal and cope with the pressure.”
Djokovic jumped to a 4-0 lead in the fourth set of the three-hour, 35-minute match after two service breaks, and Sinner couldn’t recover.
A 20-time Grand Slam winner, Djokovic is seeking his fourth straight Wimbledon championship and seventh overall. In the semifinal, he will face either Cameron Norrie of Great Britain or David Goffin of Belgium.
Djokovic had nothing but praise for Tuesday’s opponent, Sinner.
“I’m sure there’s going to be lots of opportunities for him on the big stage,” Djokovic said. “He’s so mature for his age and he’s been established now — top 10, top 15 player for last few years. He’s got plenty of time and it was unfortunate for him today but a very good tournament.”
–Field Level Media