LONDON (BBC): Novak Djokovic became a serious Wimbledon title contender as he made his first semi-final since 2015 with a 6-3 3-6 6-2 6-2 win over Kei Nishikori.
It was performance of resilience and resolve from the former number one, reminiscent of the player who held all four Grand Slam titles two years ago.
After taking the first set, Djokovic’s Japanese opponent saved four break points before levelling.
The Serb took the next and fought from a break down in the fourth to win.
This is a 32nd Grand Slam semi-final appearance for Djokovic, although there was some doubt he would reach that mark.
A nagging elbow injury caused him to take an eight-month break from the sport prior to last year’s US Open, and he also admitted to having to deal with personal issues. He dropped out of the world’s top 20 – yet his performance in June at Queen’s, where he reached the final, suggested the 31-year-old could reach the second week at Wimbledon. But a semi-final?
After seeing off big servers Kyle Edmund and Karen Khachanov, he faced Nishikori, who had recovered from his own serious injury to hit peak form in reaching his first Wimbledon quarter-final.
On Centre Court, it was first blood to Djokovic and it seemed that his opponent would be for the taking. But then the Japanese player, world number four in March last year, survived four break points early in the second set to level.
Andy Murray: No regrets over missing Wimbledon; Djokovic could win it
In his regular BBC Sport column, the 31-year-old Scot talks about his fitness, his preparations for the American hard-court season, why he thinks Novak Djokovic can win Wimbledon, and not asking Tim Henman for commentary tips…
Not playing Wimbledon was the best decision I could have made – I have no regrets about it.
Last year I came in when the hip was bad, managed to get through to the quarter-finals but ended up missing a whole year because of it.
I didn’t want to go in this year, potentially play four or five matches, and do any damage.
Obviously I was very disappointed I wasn’t able to play, but I wasn’t going to win the tournament and I wasn’t well enough prepared.
It was a hard decision but a smart one.
The positive things were being able to spend some more time with the family while I’m here at home, and being able to practise on the hard courts.
As soon as I got on the hard courts I felt better. When you’re coming back on an unstable surface you worry about every step.
So I felt more comfortable and hopefully that will help my movement and free up the hip. The impact on a hard court is greater than on grass but it felt more positive.
My plan is to play in Washington, which starts on 30 July.
I’m going to be here in London for the next 10 days, practising on the hard courts, and then I’ve got a friend’s wedding.
I’ll be going to that and then heading over to the States, having a week’s training either in Washington or maybe Miami before getting back on the match court.