Novak Djokovic’s automatic progress into the semi-finals has made him the favourite for the title, according to former Wimbledon runner-up and BBC commentator Nick Kyrgios.

When Kyrgios’s fellow Australian Alex de Minaur announced he was pulling out of Wednesday’s quarter-final on account of torn hip cartilage, Djokovic settled for a relaxed practice on the training courts at adjoining Aorangi Park, where he could be seen hitting with his young son and daughter Stefan and Tara.

He then drew chants of “Novak, Novak!” as he showed up on the roof of the broadcast centre for an interview, stopping traffic in the concourses below.

As for the recent debate over Djokovic’s interaction with supporters – some of whom he described as “disrespectful” after the Holger Rune match – Kyrgios suggested that such controversy only serves as fuel.

He said: “Novak looks for more motivation in those things … He will single out that one person [in the crowd] to find that extra motivation. My advice to anyone going up against Novak in the future in the crowd, if you don’t want Novak to win, be as quiet as possible.

“He is a different type of athlete. I think we found a time ago that he wasn’t human and we are still trying to figure out what he is. He has the best team around him in his recovery. He is one of the most professional players to ever play the game – no-one doubts that. He is reaping the rewards now. His career is over 20 years and he is still one of the best in the world. If one of the young guys can dethrone him, I am waiting for it.”

In Kyrgios’s opinion, a break from the match court is exactly what Djokovic needs as he builds his physical resilience after recent surgery on a torn knee meniscus.

Kyrgios said: “When you are playing best-of-five [sets], anytime you can get a day off, especially at his age, 37, and with that knee, I think this is the best thing for him. It is funny. At the start of the Championships there were so many question marks, people saying he couldn’t win it. And now he comes into the semi-final as probably the favourite.

“I don’t think you should doubt this man,” added Kyrgios, who has been helping Djokovic prepare for matches this week as a hitting partner. “Right now, he looks to be probably the favourite in my eyes … After that [fourth round] match against Holger Rune, he is playing and moving the best I have ever seen him.”

Djokovic now faces a semi-final against Lorenzo Musetti, an elegant Italian whom he has beaten five times in their six previous meetings. The bad news for his remaining opponents is that, once he reaches the later part of this tournament, he usually goes on to win.

In 14 Wimbledon matches after the quarter-final stage since 2013 – the year Andy Murray stopped him in the final – Djokovic’s only loss has come against Carlos Alcaraz in last summer’s showpiece.

De Minaur, the ninth seed, informed the media he was “devastated” to have to withdraw because of a hip injury.

I felt a loud crack during the last three points of my match against [Arthur] Fils and got a scan yesterday which confirmed the injury,” said the Australian. “I was at high risk of making it worse if I was to step on court.”

The Australian had joked after his win over Fils about being an “honorary Brit” at Wimbledon, given his girlfriend is current British No 1 Katie Boulter.

De Minaur explained that the injury, a tear to the cartilage, could rule him out for the next three to six weeks, adding that he had been struggling to sleep for the last two days.

“It’s no secret that this was the biggest match of my career, so I wanted to do anything I could to play,” De Minaur said. “I knew the results [of the scan] yesterday but still wanted to wake up today hoping for some sort of miracle and not to feel it whilst I was walking. The problem with me going out and playing is that one stretch or slide or anything could make this injury go from three to six weeks to four months, so it was too much to risk.

“It’s devastating, no way to beat around the bush. I haven’t been able to really enjoy what I’ve achieved this week. As soon as I felt that pop I knew something bad had happened. It has been two days of worrying and waiting to see what the results show. In the grand scheme of things it could have been worse, so I’m trying to hold on to that.”

De Minaur, in an emotional press conference, revealed that he was yet to speak with Djokovic but had notified Djokovic’s manager on the practice courts earlier on Wednesday.

“My plan always from the start was I needed a miracle this morning, so I made sure when I warmed up it was as early as possible so I knew as early as possible what my decision would be. I didn’t see Novak at the courts but I saw his manager and let him know.”

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2024-07-10T11:21:24Z dg43tfdfdgfd