Novak Djokovic reaches a record 13th Wimbledon semifinal when an injured Alex de Minaur withdraws


LONDON — Novak Djokovic’s smooth trip through the Wimbledon bracket got even easier on Wednesday, when he moved into his record-tying 13th semifinal at the tournament via a walkover because his quarterfinal opponent, Alex de Minaur, pulled out with a hip injury.

Djokovic had knee surgery less than a month before the start of play at the All England Club, raising questions about whether he’d even be able to try to earn his eighth championship at the grass-court major and add to his men’s mark of 24 Grand Slam trophies.

But, despite limitations on movement, the 37-year-old Djokovic has dropped only two sets so far, while facing a qualifier in the first round, a wild-card entrant in the second and only one seeded player, No. 15 Holger Rune. Djokovic was supposed to go up against No. 9 de Minaur on Wednesday, but instead will get three full days off before Friday’s semifinals.

More eventful for Djokovic has been his interactions with some spectators at Centre Court. After beating Rune in straight sets on Monday, Djokovic told fans that a group of them showed “disrespect” toward him with the way they were cheering.

Djokovic’s next match will come against No. 13 Taylor Fritz of the United States or No. 25 Lorenzo Musetti of Italy. Fritz and Musetti were scheduled to play their quarterfinal on Wednesday.

The women’s quarterfinals Wednesday were 2022 champion Elena Rybakina vs. No. 21 Elina Svitolina, and No. 13 Jelena Ostapenko vs. No. 31 Barbora Krejcikova in a matchup between two past title winners at the French Open.

No man has made it to as many Grand Slam semifinals as Djokovic’s 49. He and Roger Federer are the only men with 13 appearances in the final four at Wimbledon.

De Minaur’s exit is the latest to come because of injury in Week 2 of the tournament. Players who stopped competing in the middle of fourth-round matches because they were hurt include No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov in the men’s draw, and No. 12 Madison Keys and No. 17 Anna Kalinskaya in the women’s.

The hip issue for de Minaur, a 25-year-old Australian, arose right near the end of his four-set win against Arthur Fils on Monday. De Minaur said he heard a crack and knew something was wrong.

He underwent medical tests Tuesday that revealed the extent of the problem but tried to practice on Wednesday morning in the hope he would be able to take on Djokovic. This was the first time de Minaur reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.

“It’s no secret that, at this stage of my career, this was the biggest match of my career. So wanted to do anything I could to play,” de Minaur said. “I knew what the results were yesterday, but I still wanted to wake up today and feel some sort of miracle and not feel it while I’m walking.”

He was told the hip could get worse if he played Wednesday.

“The problem with me going out and playing is that one stretch, one slide, one anything, can make this injury (recovery) go from three to six weeks to four months,” de Minaur said. “It’s too much to risk.”

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AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis



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