Serbian Novak Djokovic booked a place in the Wimbledon semi-final on Wednesday after defeating Kei Nishikori.
The Serbian beat Kei Nishikori 6-3 3-6 6-2 6-2 to reach his first semi-final at any of the four tennis majors since the US Open in 2016.
After a slump following two years of almost total domination of the men’s game, Djokovic’s star appears to be back on the rise and he is a clear contender to win a fourth Wimbledon title.
He had been yearning for a Centre Court date, after playing as many games on Court Two as the main show court so far this tournament.
And he did not disappoint with a battling performance reminiscent of days gone by, even if he did fall out with umpire Carlos Ramos.
This was his 13th win in a row against Nishikori, who is also on the way back up after an injury nightmare.
Djokovic now awaits Rafael Nadal or Juan Martin del Potro and on Friday will contest his first All England Club semi-final since 2015.
The Centre Court spectators, who included the Duchess of Cornwall, Rory McIlroy and Sir Richard Branson watching on from the Royal Box, were wowed by two highlight-reel rallies in the first five games. The second of those saw Nishikori follow up a ‘hot dog’ between-the-legs shot with a thunderous backhand winner.
That period saw an early Djokovic break immediately cancelled out before the Serbian struck again at 4-3, thanks in part to a stunning forehand on the run, and he served the first set out.
Nishikori had to survive heavy attack on his serve early in the second as Djokovic smelled blood, saving four break points, which included a 0-40 game.
Djokovic, seeded 12th, was visibly disappointed at those missed opportunities, incurring a warning from umpire Ramos for throwing his racket, and Nishikori made him feel even worse when he broke to lead 3-1 after Djokovic put an attempted drop shot into the net.
Later in the match, Djokovic was clearly frustrated and complained of “double standards” when Nishikori was not punished for a racket throw.
The Japanese remained in control and served it out to level the match and he appeared in the ascendancy as, after saving a break point, he then raced to a 0-40 lead on Djokovic’s next service game.
But the three-time champion here turned the tables on Nishikori, holding his serve and then breaking in the next game to start a run of four successive games which allowed him to take the third set 6-2.
Nishikori went a break up immediately in the fourth set, but that was not the start of a comeback as Djokovic reeled off four games on the spin which helped send him into the last four.
“It feels great to be in the last four of a slam,” Djokovic said on the BBC. “I have been building over the last couple of weeks, and the level of tennis I have played in the last couple of months felt like it was getting better and better and I feel like I am peaking at the right moment.
“I have been here before and I will try and enjoy this victory.
“I have worked very hard to try and get myself in the best possible shape for the biggest event and this is certainly one of the best.”
Provided by Press Association Sport