WIMBLEDON, England — Novak Djokovic is aiming for more and more historic victories and milestones and is aware that whatever opponent he faces would love nothing more than to stop him.
“I know they…want to win. But it’s still not happening,” he told the crowd at Wimbledon on Tuesday after reaching the 46th Grand Slam semi-final, equaling Roger Federer’s record for men.
Hearing the audience’s loud reaction to this boast, Djokovic laughed, noting of himself, “Very humble.”
His 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 win over Andrey Rublev was Djokovic’s 33rd straight at the All England Club and moved him closer to a fifth straight championship and eighth overall – what a great success would be him on both counts even with Federer.
“I have a feeling,” Rublev said of Djokovic, “as if he’s playing better and better.”
Djokovic, a 36-year-old from Serbia, is also aiming for the 24th Major title of his career. On the men’s side, he already set new standards in this category by finishing 23rd at the French Open last month, beating Rafael Nadal. Next on the list is Federer at 20.
The only real blip for Djokovic came when No. 7-seeded Rublev beat him with a forehand winner to take a 5-4 lead at the start, then played the opening set.
From there, Djokovic saved all seven break points he faced and pulled away, dropping Rublev to 8-0 in the Grand Slam quarterfinals.
“Every time he had a chance, that little chance,” Rublev said, “he took it. All.”
Not quite. Djokovic failed to convert any of his three break points in the opening set. Thereafter? He went 5 to 9.
Next up for Djokovic is a match against No. 8-seeded Jannik Sinner, who made it to the semi-finals of a major tournament for the first time on Tuesday by beating Roman Safiullin 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 6:2 defeated .
Djokovic has won both previous direct duels against Sinner, a 21-year-old from Italy. That includes last year’s Wimbledon quarter-finals when Djokovic lost the first two sets before advancing in five sets.
“It’s definitely one of the toughest – if not the toughest – challenge,” said Sinner about the game against Djokovic.
The other two men’s quarterfinals take place on Wednesday: No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz vs. No. 6 Holger Rune and No. 3 Daniil Medvedev vs. unseeded Chris Eubanks.
On Friday, Sinner will be the last to try to stop Djokovic, who is just two wins away from attending the US Open in August and has his sights set on the first Grand Slam of a year for a man since Rod Laver did this in 1969 feat accomplished.
“Every tennis player wants to be in a position where everyone on the court wants to win against you. … Printing is part of our job. It’s part of our sport. “Slams you win, or how many matches you’ve won, or how many years you’ve been playing professionally on the tour,” Djokovic said. “Pressure is paramount every time I step onto the pitch, especially here on Wimbledon’s Center Court. But at the same time he awakens the most beautiful feelings in me and motivates me beyond what I ever dreamed of actually, and inspires me to play my best tennis.