Novak Djokovic has fought back from 2 sets down as many as 7 times in Grand Slams. On Tuesday, the 20-time Grand Slam champion scripted a stunning come back and defeated 10th seed Jannik Sinner in a 5-set battle in the men’s singles quarter-final at Wimbledon 2022.
Novak Djokovic looked down and out as his forehand was far from effective in the first two sets but the Serb played a “completely different match” after a “mirror pep talk” during a “toilet break” at the end of the 2nd set.
Djokovic stormed back to form, racing through the last 3 sets to book his place in a 11th Wimbledon semi-final. Djokovic defeated a valiant Sinner 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 in 3 hours and 35 minutes.
“Maybe it’s the experience, maybe it’s the toilet break, maybe everything combined. I am just glad, I am through (to the semi-final),” Djokovic said when asked about his ability to come back from crisis situations.
Djokovic has come back from 2 sets down thrice at Wimbledon and has won 10 5-setters in 11 attempts as he took his winning run at the grass-court Grand Slam to 26 matches.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 5, 2022
The Serb looked down and out with his second serves and forehand letting him down against a charged-up Sinner, who had already ousted Carlos Alcaraz in the quarter-final.
‘IT’S THE TRUTH’
In a candid on-court interview, Djokovic said he is serious that the break after the second set helped him regather his thoughts. The 6-time Wimbledon champion said he had a pep talk with himself, facing the mirror during the toilet break.
“Toilet break was the turning point,” Djokovic said.
“As for the first two sets, compared to the last 3, we had probably two different matches. He was the better player in the first two sets. I went out, had a little bit of refreshment, a toilet break and a little pep talk in the mirror, trying to it’s actually the truth (laughs),” he added.
“Sometimes, in this kind of circumstance, where not much happening positively for you in terms of tennis and the other guy is dominating, sometimes, these things are necessary. A little break and a little pep talk and trying to recuperate and trying to regather the thoughts.
“I was fortunate to start off the 3rd set very well, I broke his serve early and that gave me a boost in confidence. I saw a little bit of doubt in his game and his movement. The experience of playing many matches in this stage has helped me to deal and cope with pressure in big matches,” he added.
‘INNER FIGHT IS ALWAYS THE BIGGEST’
Djokovic shed light on his never-say-die mentality.
“Even though I have played tennis on the big stage for 20 years, nevertheless, I go through the same kind of doubtful moments as anybody else. The inner fight is always the biggest fight that you have on the court and off it. Trying to win that internal fight is a big challenge and once you do that, the external circumstances are more likely to go your way,” he added.
“I always believe I can turn the match around, I have done that a few times at Grand Slams from being 2 sets to love down.”
Djokovic was all praise for Sinner, who had a fine run in Wimbledon 2022. The 20-year-old Italian defeated Stan Wawrinka in the first round and saw off John Isner and Carlos Alcaraz before giving Djokovic a huge scare.
In fact, Djokovic led the applause for the young Italian as he made his way off the Centre Court on Tuesday.
“First of all, I must say, huge congratulations for a big fight today for Jannik. I am sure there are going to be a lot of opportunities for him on the big stage. He is so mature for his age. He is an established top-10, top-15 player for the last few years. He has got plenty of time. I wish him the best of luck for the rest of the year,” Djokovic said.