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Djokovic Recovers To Beat Cilic For Wimbledon SF Berth

Wimbledon, England

Djokovic© AFP/Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic has reached the semi-finals at 15 of the past 17 Grand Slam championships.

Top seed Novak Djokovic drew on his big-match experience to defeat No. 26 seed Marin Cilic at The Championships on Wednesday for a place in the semi-finals.

Djokovic recovered from a two-sets-to-one deficit by winning 12 of the last 16 games to record a 6-1, 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-2 victory in three hours and 18 minutes on No. 1 Court at the All England Club. 

“I played a very bad game, with a couple of bad errors in the second set and the momentum changed for him to get back into the match,” Djokovic told BBC television. “He found his rhythm on serve, but I allowed him to step in. It was frustrating for me.

“You're fighting on the court as much as your opponent, and you try to just mentally be strong and find that inner strength that can help you in those particular moments,” he added. “That's what helped me.”

Djokovic, who captured the 2011 Wimbledon title (d. Nadal), improved to a 34-5 record and will now meet No. 11 seed Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian will break into the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday. 

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The 27-year-old Serbian got off to a strong start by winning the first three games in the 27-minute first set, but Cilic regrouped to seal the second set 6-3. 

Cilic broke Djokovic for a 6-5 lead in a keenly contested third set, but two mis-timed forehands saw him lose his serve to 15. In a see-saw tie-break, Cilic managed to take a 6-4 lead with a big forehand winner. He won the 67-minute set when Djokovic stretched to hit a lob long. 

Cilic, who believed he missed an opportunity to score his first victory over Djokovic, said, "In the third set, Novak had a lot of chances [and was] 15/40 on my serve a couple of times. Eventually, I made the break at 5-5, and then I hit the net [on my smash] on the first point at 6-5. That changed the momentum around. I lost my service game. Then, I eventually won that third set tie-break."

Djokovic took a 4-0 lead to sweep through the fourth set in 33 minutes and came close to taking a 4-1 lead in the decider, but Cilic temporarily held on to stay in the pair's 10th meeting. Djokovic hit 32 winners and broke serve seven titles.

"What was sad was the beginning of the fourth [set]," said Cilic. "I gave him the opportunity to come back in the match. He went to [a] 3-0, 4-0 lead in that fourth set. From that moment, I felt [that] I needed to come back in the game. But I didn't have any chances to do that unfortunately."

By reaching the quarter-finals, Cilic - who committed 48 unforced errors against Djokovic - had become the fourth Croatian man in history to reach the last eight at Wimbledon, joining his coach Goran Ivanisevic (1994-96, 1998, 2001), Mario Ancic (2004, 2006, 2008) and Ivo Karlovic (2009). 

Ealier in the day, Dimitrov beat defending champion Andy Murray on Centre Court.

“It’s a big win for Grigor,” said Djokovic, who is coached by three-time former Wimbledon titlist Boris Becker. “He has been on fire the past six months. He has won a couple of titles, including on grass at Queen’s [the Aegon Championships]. He is unbeaten on grass this year, so he is the player to beat.”

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©Neven Gerencir

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