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Ricky’s pick for the Wimbledon semifinals: Djokovic vs. Sinner

It will be Novak Djokovic vs. Jannik Sinner for the second year in a row at Wimbledon when they meet again Friday, this time in the semifinals.

Last summer they faced each other in the quarters and it was Djokovic’s toughest test of the fortnight on his way to a fourth consecutive title at the All-England Club. The now-23-time Grand Slam champion immediately found himself one set from exiting the tournament but clawed back to win 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

“It’s going to be a completely different match than last year,” Sinner said. “He knows me better, as I know him better also. It’s going to be also a little bit tactical. In the other way, it is also a little bit mental. If you play against Novak, it’s always tough to play–especially in Grand Slams.”

The Italian has got that right. Djokovic is now the solo leader in major titles and he is halfway to the calendar-year Grand Slam in 2023. His quest for history remains alive following victories in SW19 over Pedro Cachin, Jordan Thompson, Stan Wawrinka, Hubert Hurkacz (7-6(6), 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-4), and Andrey Rublev (also in four sets).

The 36-year-old Serb will be on red alert heading into this rematch with Sinner, and not just because of his scare at this event last season. When healthy, Sinner has been awesome this year. He is up to eighth in the rankings thanks in part to a 37-10 record, which is highlighted by a title in Mallorca and runner-up showings in Rotterdam and Miami. The 21-year-old’s first two slams were underwhelming, but his first semifinal run at the All-England Club has featured defeats of Juan Manuel Cerundolo, Diego Schwartzman, Quentin Halys, Daniel Elahi Galan, and Roman Safiullin.

“He’s playing on a very high level,” Djokovic assessed. “He likes to play on grass. He likes to play on quick surfaces because he likes to be aggressive and take control of the point. From both forehand and backhand, he’s smashing the ball really, really hard, trying to be the one that is going to dictate the point from early on. I know his game well.

“He’s a very complete player. Now first time in semis of Wimbledon. I’m looking forward to that challenge. We both have two days to recover. I’m sure that he’s going to be very, very motivated to win. On the other hand, I am, too.”

And why wouldn’t Djokovic be? The CYGS is still in play, plus he can tie Roger Federer with Wimbledon title No. 8. It won’t be easy, but Djokovic should be on his way to the final.

Pick: Djokovic in 4

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.