Tue | Aug 9, 2022

Djokovic stays alive at Wimbledon

Recovers from two-set deficit, notches 26th straight win

Published:Wednesday | July 6, 2022 | 12:12 AM
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts after making a passing shot to Italy’s Jannik Sinner in a men’s singles quarter-final match on day nine of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London yesterday.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts after making a passing shot to Italy’s Jannik Sinner in a men’s singles quarter-final match on day nine of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London yesterday.

WIMBLEDON, England (AP):

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 likely left no one thinking the ultimate outcome was a foregone conclusion.

A lot about his pre-eminence at the All England Club in recent years. A lot about his history of overcoming that sort of deficit. A lot about his ability to adjust, to adapt, to right himself quickly. A lot about what might happen if – or, rather, when – he got back into the match and it eventually went to a fifth set.

And so it was that Djokovic spotted 10th-seeded Jannik Sinner of Italy that huge lead on Tuesday, then worked his way all the way back to pull away and win 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 at Centre Court, earning an 11th semi-final berth at Wimbledon with his 26th consecutive victory at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament.

Among men, only Roger Federer, with 13, has made more semi-final appearances at the place. Among men, only Federer, with eight, has won more championships than the seven that Djokovic would reach by lifting the trophy on Sunday for what would be a fourth year in a row.

Djokovic collected his seventh career comeback in a match he trailed by two sets – he last did it in the French Open final against Stefanos Tsitsipas last year – 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 way back in 2006.

In the semi-finals on Friday, the top-seeded Djokovic, a 35-year-old from Serbia, will meet either No. 9 Cameron Norrie of Britain or unseeded David Goffin of Belgium. The men’s quarter-finals on Wednesday: No. 2 Rafael Nadal of Spain vs No. 11 Taylor Fritz of the US, and Nick Kyrgios of Australia vs Cristian Garin of Cile.

The first player into the women’s semi-finals was 103rd-ranked Tatjana Maria, who defeated Jule Niemeier, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5, in an all-German matchup. Maria is 34, making her only the sixth woman at least that old to get this far at Wimbledon in the professional era, which began in 1968.

The others? It’s quite a list: Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Serena Williams and Venus Williams.

This is Maria’s 35th Grand Slam tournament; she only once previously had even made it as far as the third round.

She’ll take on No. 3 Ons Jabeur of Tunisia or Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic for a spot in Saturday’s final.

The other women’s quarter-finals: 2019 champion Simona Halep of Romania vs No. 20 Amanda Anisimova of the US, and No. 17 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan vs Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia.

Of the women’s quarter-finalists, only Halep owns a major title (she has two).