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WIMBLEDON, UK — Three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic came from a two-set handicap to defeat Jannik Sinner (13th in the world) 5-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 on Tuesday beat Wimbledon Quarterfinals.
“There were two matches: He was better in the first two sets. At the end of the second set I paused to go to the bathroom and took the opportunity to talk to myself in the mirror to cheer myself up,” explained the world No. 3.
“On the way back I had a chance to break quickly in the third set. That gave me confidence and I felt that he had started to have doubts,” continued the Serb, who has 26 straight wins at Wimbledon, where he has been since not lost after his elimination in the quarterfinals in 2017.
“I still think I can come back two sets down. Maybe it’s the experience, the bathroom break, or a combination of both…” he joked.
He meets Britain’s Cameron Norrie (12th), winner of a five-set duel against David Goffin on Friday for an eighth attempt to climb grass in the Major final where he is aiming for a seventh title.
His win over Sinner, who played his second Wimbledon aged 20 after being knocked out in the first round last year, is Djokovic’s 84th in the London Major. He is tied with Jimmy Connors in second place among the players who have won the most games there, behind Roger Federer (105).
Djokovic on his stomach
Early in the game, Djokovic seemed poised to pocket the opener quietly as he quickly went 4-1. But then the match was level, the Serb made a couple of unforced errors and the Italian came back to 4-4 before claiming the crucial break to take a 6-5 lead. He insisted on serving to win that first set.
More solidly (3 aces to 0, 100% success after his first serve) and without the slightest trace of emotion, Sinner dominated the second set.
But Djokovic returned from his toilet break with renewed motivation. He increased his first serve rate and dominated the set after leading 3-1.
He then didn’t concede a single break point and took his opponent’s serve twice in the fourth set.
In the last game of that fourth set, Sinner fell in a run to recover a drop shot and twisted his left ankle. He stayed down for a moment, then got up with the help of Djokovic and resumed the game.
He did not appear injured, saving two set points but losing the game and set.
Everything had to be redone, but Djokovic continued in steamroller mode.
He broke to make it 2-1: At the break point, Sinner led the rally, but his drop shot caught on the net.
Djokovic then managed the double break for a 5-2 lead: He first placed a crossing backhand at the end of the race – and found himself flat on his stomach – offering himself a break point that saw Sinner miss a forehand volley entirely.
A few minutes later, Djokovic finished with a shutout on his serve.