By: Marvin Azrak
It says a lot about Novak Djokovic that a two-sets-to-none deficit at Wimbledon on a day he wasn’t sharp, clearly astounded by the authentic play of his younger counterpart, Not to him.
Not to anyone watching. But he did it for the seventh time in his illustrious career, and showed that much about his dominance at the All England Club in recent years, where he’s won each of the last three years.
Djokovic fell behind 10th-seeded 20 Year-old Jannik Sinner of Italy, then worked his way back to win 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 at the 100 year old Centre Court, earning an 11th semifinal berth at Wimbledon with his 26th consecutive victory on these hollow grounds.
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 an unprecedented fourth straight year.
Tuesday was the Serbians first two set comeback since the 2021 French Open final when he stunned Stefanos Tastipas improving to 37-10 in five-setter for his career, which includes a 10-1 mark in matches that go the distance at Wimbledon. That loss came when Novak was Sinner’s age in 2006, and had yet to win a major. He’s got 20 and counting since then.
Sinner has much to be proud of, as prior to forcing the legend to the distance, he got win No. 1 at Wimbledon by eliminating three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka and then beat a pair of seeded foes: No. 20 John Isner and No. 5 Carlos Alcaraz.
Sinner went up a set and a break when Djokovic sailed a backhand long, then bowed his head. Sinner broke again for 5-2, and soon enough, 1 1/2 hours in, was a set from the biggest triumph of his nascent career.
Before the start of the third, Djokovic headed toward the locker room for a bathroom break, a refreshment and a pep-talk in the mirror just like he did at Roland Garros against Tsitsipas 13 months ago.
After landing on his stomach following a slide that turned into the splits on a backhand in the fifth set, Djokovic spread his arms out wide like a child pretending to be an airplane — or a baseball umpire calling a runner safe, because that’s what legends do. While the two showman were battling it out on Centre, Dovid Goffin and ninth seeded Cameron Norrie went the distance on NO1, with the Brit in Norrie, rallying to escape his opponents grasp 3-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5, for a home-soil meeting against Djokovic in Fridays semifinals.
On the other side of the bracket, 22 time grand slam winner and No 2 seed Rafael Nadal will face the 11th seeded American Taylor Fritz in the elite 8, while Australian fan-favorite Nick Kyrigos against Cristian Garin of Chile.
Personally, a Djokovic-Nadal final on Sunday would be extraordinary. Two of the greatest tennis players of all time + the fact Djokovic hasn’t lost at Wimbledon in four years (Since 2018) and is trailing Rafa 22-20 in the aforementioned career Grand Slam count, while also trying to fend him off for world NO1. Nadal has won the Australian open and French open this year meaning he’s halfway to a calendar slam (Where you win AusOpen, French, Wimbledon and US Open in succession) which is extremely rare of course and hasn’t been done since Rod Laver did it back in 1970.
Djokovic was one match away last year though from doing it but lost in the US Open final in straight sets to Danil Medvedev.