Novak Djokovic prevailed over seventh seed Andrey Rublev in a gruelling match to keep up his pursuit of a record-tying ninth Wimbledon men’s title.
The Serb rallied to defeat the American in the quarterfinals, 4-6 6-1 6-4 6-3, as he also aimed to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 major singles victories. The determined victory against Russia’s Rublev by four-time reigning champion Djokovic marked his 33rd straight triumph at the All England Club.
On Friday, Djokovic, 36, will face Italy’s Jannik Sinner in the semifinals. Second-seeded Djokovic will play in his 46th major semifinal, tying Roger Federer for the most in a single season.
He hasn’t been defeated on Centre Court since losing the 2013 final to Andy Murray of Great Britain, and he hasn’t lost a full match in SW19 since 2016.
Sinner, 21, defeated Russian Roman Safiullin 6-4 3-6 6-2 6-2 to advance to his first Grand Slam semifinal. It’s a rematch of their quarterfinal encounter from a year ago when Sinner was on the verge of defeating Djokovic until the veteran rallied to win after falling behind two sets.
Djokovic “loves” being the ultimate opponent for any tennis player to beat
Rublev has never seen what it was like to win a Grand Slam quarter-final, whereas Djokovic is fully aware of what is necessary to get to the semi-finals of a major tournament.
Rublev has lost all seven of his prior grand slam quarterfinal matches, including a loss against Djokovic at the Australian Open this year in which he only managed to win seven games. He made a lighthearted remark about Djokovic being on the other side of the draw before the match in Melbourne, which was seen later as a reflection of his lack of confidence on the court. This time, Rublev got off to a confident start. The 25-year-old, however, was unable to maintain it as his opponent showed how much he enjoys putting younger players in their place.
When asked how he would react to being the “ultimate opponent to beat”, Djokovic responded, “I enjoy it. Every tennis player desires to be in a situation where everyone is trying to defeat them.”
After holding for 3-3 and surviving three break points, Rublev snatched Djokovic’s serve for 5-4 before serving out the opening game. At the Championships this year, it was the first time Djokovic has fallen behind in a match.
The Serb was able to break for 2-0 and again for 4-0 as he swiftly won the second set against Rublev. Rublev levelled off again in the third but trailed 3-2 at the break. When Djokovic attempted to serve out the set, he persisted in pressing and put tremendous pressure on him.
In a crucial match, Djokovic saved three break chances. Despite responding to the crowd’s support for Rublev by requesting louder cheers when he did so, the Belgrade native still managed to win the fifth set point.
Rublev had to locate a higher level in some way. Djokovic resisted allowing him to do so. Djokovic took control after making another early break and earned his spot in the 12th Wimbledon semifinal by breaking Rublev’s service once more.