Novak Djokovic receives Wimbledon semi-final bye as de Minaur withdraws with injury at match point

Novak Djokovic receives Wimbledon semi-final bye as de Minaur withdraws with injury at match point

Alex de Minaur has withdrawn from his quarter-final with a hip injury, sending Novak Djokovic straight through to a 13th Wimbledon semi-final.

‘I’m devastated. This was the biggest match of my career,’ the downtrodden Aussie said, confirming the unfortunate news. 

In an extraordinary stroke of ill fortune, the Australian injured himself with the very last shot of his fourth round win over Frenchman Arthur Fils, as he lunged to play a superb winning volley.

In that moment of victory he knew immediately something was wrong. He gave a haunted look to his box – which included his girlfriend Katie Boulter, the British No1 – and hobbled to his chair, where he sat shaking his head.

He put a brave face on things immediately afterwards, saying: ‘I’ll be alright.’ But it seems his initial, devastated response on court was accurate.

‘Obviously not an announcement I wanted to make by any means,’ he said on Wednesday. ‘I am devastated to pull out due to a hip injury, a little tear of the fibre cartilage that kind of is at the end of or connects to the adductor.

‘I felt a loud crack during the last three points of my match against Fils and got a scan yesterday and it confirmed that this was the injury and with high risk of making it worse if I was to step on court.’

It is wretched luck for the world No9, who had the chance to make his first ever Grand Slam semi-final.

Novak Djokovic has advanced to the Wimbledon semi finals without hitting a ball

Djokovic's quarter final opponent Alex de Minaur was forced to pull out on Wednesday

Djokovic’s quarter final opponent Alex de Minaur was forced to pull out on Wednesday

As for Djokovic, what has been a gentle path towards an eight title so far was made even smoother.

All eyes have been on the seven-time champion this week after he launched an astonishing attack on the Centre Court crowd for what he interpreted as booing during his win over Holger Rune on Monday night. 

It seemed the crowd were simply cheering ‘Ruuuuuuune’ for his opponent but Djokovic  saw things differently.

‘To all the fans that have had respect and stayed here tonight, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I appreciate it,’ he began. ‘And to all those people that have chosen to disrespect the player – in this case me – have a goooooooood night.

‘They were. They were [disrespecting me],’ he insisted. ‘I am not accepting it. No no no. I know they were cheering for Rune but that’s an excuse to also boo. 

‘Listen, I have been on the tour for more than 20 years. I know all the tricks. I focus on the respectful people that pay for the ticket, and love tennis and appreciate the players. I played in much more hostile environments, trust me – you guys can’t touch me.’ 

Djokovic’s presence at this year’s tournament was in doubt before a ball was hit, with the Serb undergoing knee surgery just days prior to the grass court major.

He will face either Lorenzo Musetti or Taylor Fritz in the final four. He boasts a strong record over both players, beating the Italian in five of their six matches, while he has never lost to America’s Fritz in their nine meetings. 

De Minaur will be devastated to leave the tournament early, having embraced his status as an honourary Brit due to his relationship with Boulter.

Djokovic is now just two wins away from winning in SW19 for an eighth time

Djokovic is now just two wins away from winning in SW19 for an eighth time

‘I do feel very loved out there, I must say,’ said De Minaur after his win on Monday. ‘I always love coming here to Wimbledon and playing here. I always feel like I play some of my best tennis. Over the years I feel like the support I’ve had has grown significantly.

‘It’s a great feeling as a player to know you’ve got a lot of people in that stadium backing you in, having your back when essentially you’re so far away from home.’

Asked if he ‘actually feels a bit British then?’ de Minaur answered with a smile, ‘Yeah, definitely. Over the years I’ve learnt a lot more about the British culture thanks to Katie. I’m getting there.’

Boulter, who has been dating De Minaur since March 2022, was in his players’ box for the match against Fils and was expected to be there again for the last-eight clash.

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