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Watch: Djokovic battles into Wimbledon semi-finals as Maria is mother superior

Defending champion Novak Djokovic battled back from two sets down to reach an 11th Wimbledon semi-final on Tuesday as mother-of-two Tatjana Maria booked her first Slam last-four spot after 15 years of trying.

Djokovic triumphed 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 over Italian 10th seed Jannik Sinner, coming from two sets down for the seventh time in his career.

The Serb will face either Britain’s Cameron Norrie or David Goffin of Belgium for a place in Sunday’s final.

Maria, who defeated fellow unseeded German Jule Niemeier 4-6, 6-2, 7-5, awaits either world number two Ons Jabeur or Marie Bouzkova in her semi-final.

Djokovic, a 20-time major winner, said he had to give himself a talking to after going two sets down.

“The first two sets compared to the next three were like two different matches,” he said, “He was the better player for those first two sets.

“But at the end of the second set I took a toilet break, gave myself a little pep talk, tried to gather my thoughts.

“I broke early in the third set. I saw a little bit of doubt start to come into his movement. I have many years’ experience of playing on these courts and coping with the pressure.”

Djokovic is no stranger to Grand Slam adversity, having twice come back from two sets to love down as recently as last year’s French Open.

The second of those stunning recoveries came in the final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

A break in the fourth game of the third set on Tuesday enabled him to cut his quarter-final deficit.

In control, the 35-year-old levelled the tie with a double break in the fourth set as Sinner took a worrying tumble on his ankle scrambling to the Centre Court net.

‘Goosebumps’

Djokovic carved out two more breaks in the decider, the second off the back of a stunning, cross-court backhand on the stretch to go to 5-2 before calmly serving it out.

“I played well but he raised his level. I think I can be proud of what I have done here,” said Sinner who had never won a grass-court match before Wimbledon.

Maria, 34, who saved two match points in the previous round against Jelena Ostapenko, made her Grand Slam debut in 2007 and had never progressed beyond the third round at a major before this year’s Wimbledon.

“I have goosebumps everywhere,” said the world number 103, 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.”

Maria was ranked outside the top 250 as recently as March.

Later Tuesday, ninth seed Norrie and Goffin will each attempt to make the semis of a Slam for the first time.

Goffin defeated Frances Tiafoe of the United States in the longest match at this year’s Wimbledon — four hours and 36 minutes — to reach the quarter-finals for the second time.

The remaining men’s quarter-finals take place on Wednesday.

Rafael Nadal faces Taylor Fritz of the United States while Nick Kyrgios takes on Chile’s Cristian Garin.

World number two Jabeur is the last of the top 15 women’s seeds standing.

The Tunisian player made the last eight in 2021 and is now looking to reach a first Grand Slam semi-final.

The 27-year-old coasted through the first three rounds before digging deep to save five set points in the opening set of her last-16 clash against Elise Mertens.

On Wednesday, Simona Halep, the 2019 champion, tackles Amanda Anisimova of the United States while Ajla Tomljanovic takes on big-serving Elena Rybakina.

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