Novak Djokovic progressed to a record-equalling 13th Wimbledon semi-final without hitting a ball on Wednesday after Alex de Minaur pulled out injured as Elena Rybakina kept her focus on a second title.

Australian ninth seed De Minaur, 25, announced shortly after midday at the All England Club that he was “devastated to pull out due to a hip injury.”

It means Djokovic has now equaled Roger Federer’s men’s record of 13 semi-final appearances at Wimbledon as he closes on the Swiss great’s mark of eight singles titles.

The 37-year-old Serbian is through to a record-extending 49th men’s Grand Slam semi-final.

De Minaur, who beat Djokovic at the United Cup in January, said: “It’s no secret that this would have been the biggest match of my career, but it’s a unique injury.

“I woke up this morning wanting to feel some sort of miracle, but there was a high risk of making the injury worse if I stepped on court.

“One stretch, one slide could take this from a three- to six-weeks’ injury to four months out.”

Djokovic will play US 13th seed Taylor Fritz or Italian 25th seed Lorenzo Musetti for a place in Sunday’s showpiece match.

The world number two does not have a title to his name this year and is still seeking his first victory against a fellow top-10 player.

But a historic 25th Grand Slam triumph is coming into sharp focus for Djokovic, who demolished Holger Rune in straight sets in the fourth round.

Such has been his impressive form at the All England Club that it is easy to forget he had knee surgery after suffering an injury at the recent French Open.

Relaxed Rybakina

Rybakina is the only former women’s champion still in the draw at Wimbledon after an 18th win in 20 matches at the All England Club.

The Russian-born Kazakh player joins Ann Jones and Steffi Graf as the only players in the Open Era to have a 90 percent win rate in the women’s singles.

The fourth seed said she approaches things differently from when she won the title in 2022, her only Grand Slam triumph to date.

“It is different,” she said. “At the same time, when you go on the court, you are still nervous a little bit. I think now, with all the experience, I just enjoy much more on the court.”

On the other side of the net is 21st-seed Elina Svitolina, who broke down in tears after her win against China’s Wang Xinyu on Monday following the deaths of dozens of people in her native Ukraine as a result of Russian missile strikes.

“I’m playing, of course, such an amazing event as Wimbledon,” she said. “I have to also think about how I can use that in a way for Ukrainian people. At least with my win today, it was a small light that brought a happy moment for Ukrainian people.”

Jelena Ostapenko takes on Barbora Krejcikova in a battle between two former French Open champions.

Latvia’s Ostapenko, a former Wimbledon junior champion, has dropped just 15 games so far and spent only a shade over four hours on court.

“This tournament is very special with the traditions,” she said. “It’s just that when you come here, the atmosphere is completely different from any other Grand Slam.

“I feel this place is, like, I don’t know, for every tennis player, it’s a dream to win Wimbledon.”

Krejcikova, who won at Roland Garros in 2021, had never been beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon before this year but impressed in her last-16 win against Danielle Collins.

Fritz produced a stunning performance to come back against fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the fourth round, winning in five sets.

The American has form on grass, winning eight straight matches dating back to the start of the Eastbourne International last month.

His opponent, Musetti, defeated Fritz 6-4 earlier this year on clay in Monte Carlo.

With AFP

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