LONDON (AFP): Novak Djokovic said he considers himself “favourite” to lift this year’s Wimbledon title even if it makes him sound “arrogant”.
The Serb star reached his 12th Wimbledon semi-final and record-equalling 46th at the Grand Slams with a four-set victory over Andrey Rublev on Tuesday.
Djokovic, chasing an eighth title at the All England Club and 24th career major, came through 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 and will face Italy’s Jannik Sinner for a place in the final.
He has now reached as many semi-finals at the Slams as the retired Roger Federer.
“I don’t want to sound arrogant, but of course I would consider myself favourite,” said Djokovic.
“Judging by the results I had in my career here, the last four times at Wimbledon that I won, so I do consider myself favourite, yes.”
The 36-year-old was playing in his 400th Grand Slam match on Tuesday and insisted he was enjoying being the man to beat.
“I love it. Any player wants to be in the position where all the other players want to beat you,” he said after preserving his record of not being defeated on Centre Court since 2013.
“The pressure never goes away every time I come on court.
“They want to get a scalp and the win — but it ain’t happening!”
Rublev, the world number seven, has now lost all eight quarter-finals he has played at the majors.
“I had these little chances but I didn’t make them. He made them. That’s why he’s Novak, one of the greatest players in history,” he said.
Despite Djokovic’s confidence, world number one and US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz is still in the tournament and plays his quarter-final against fellow 20-year-old Holger Rune on Wednesday.
Daniil Medvedev, who shattered Djokovic’s bid for his first calendar Grand Slam in the US Open final in 2021, faces unseeded Christopher Eubanks.
On Tuesday, Rublev enjoyed a promising start against a player who allowed him just seven games when they met at the same stage of the Australian Open in January.
Djokovic saw three break points come and go in the first set and was made to pay when Rublev broke for a 5-4 lead.
The 25-year-old Russian claimed the opener in the next game when Djokovic netted a service return.
That was the second set dropped by Djokovic at Wimbledon this year and he was suitably fired up in response.
He raced to a 5-0 lead in the second set, allowing Rublev just six points in that stretch, before going on to level the quarter-final.
In the third set, Djokovic saved two break points in the second game, broke in the fifth and moved to a two sets to one lead in the 10th game.
It was not a smooth conversion, however, with the champion needing five set points to finish the job while at the same time saving three break points.
The outcome was inevitable as he broke for a 2-1 lead in the fourth before wrapping up the match having fired 42 winners past Rublev.