Tennis - Djokovic vs Sinner
World No.1 Novak Djokovic lets out a war cry after rallying hard to beat 20-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner in a five-setter to make the semi-final. Image Credit: AP

London: Just when Novak Djokovic’s troubling year looked like hitting another low he salvaged his bid for a fourth successive Wimbledon title by coming back from two sets down to beat Italian Jannik Sinner on Tuesday.

The Serbian top seed had looked in all kinds of trouble against the inspired 20-year-old after being outplayed for two sets but stormed back to win 5-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-2.

In the end, there was an air of inevitability about the outcome as the battle-hardened 35-year-old seized control to reach his 43rd Grand Slam semi-final and 11th at Wimbledon.

Djokovic has not been able to add to his 20 major titles this year after being deported before the Australian Open following a Covid-19 standoff and then losing to Rafa Nadal in the quarter-finals of the French Open.


But he kept alive the prospect of facing second seed Nadal in Sunday’s final with a superb comeback, the seventh time in his career he has triumphed after losing the first two sets.

Sinner, who was bidding to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Matteo Berrettini who reached last year’s final, showed why he is being tipped as a future Grand Slam champion but he faded in the face of a Djokovic onslaught.

When the Serbian produced a miraculous backhand winner on the slide to earn a break in the seventh game of the fourth set, ending on his belly in a superman posture, 10th seed Sinner knew that he was facing mission impossible.

The Italian belted a volley long on the next point and then Djokovic held to love to seal victory.

German affair

Earlier, Germany’s Tatjana Maria came from behind to beat compatriot Jule Niemeier 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 and reach her first Grand Slam semi-final.

The 34-year-old mother of two will play either third seed Ons Jabeur or unseeded Marie Bouzkova for a place in the final.

“I have goosebumps everywhere,” said Maria, who returned from maternity leave just under a year ago.

“My two little girls, it’s a dream to live this with my family, to live this with my two girls. Almost one year ago I gave birth, it’s crazy.”

She said would like to face world number two Jabeur in the semi-finals.

“It would be really nice to play her,” she said. “She is part of my family, she loves my kids, she is playing with them every day.”

In only the third all-German Grand Slam quarter-final in the Open Era, Niemeier took control from the start of the match, breaking at her first opportunity and going on to win the set.

The 22-year-old then broke again at the start of the second set to take an iron grip on the match but Maria stormed back, breaking three times to level the match.

World number 97 Niemeier again drew first blood in the deciding set, breaking in the fifth game and holding serve to lead 4-2.

But Maria hit back to level at 4-4 and broke again in the 12th game to seal the victory.

The German veteran, who saved two match points in the previous round, made her Grand Slam debut in 2007 and had never progressed beyond the third round at a major before this year’s Wimbledon.


Quarter finals

Men: Novak Djokovic (1), Serbia, def. Jannik Sinner (10), Italy, 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

Women: Tatjana Maria, Germany, def. Jule Niemeier, Germany, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.