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Djokovic going through the gears ahead of Nadal showdown

By Jonathan Veal

Novak Djokovic believes he is "pretty close" to regaining the level that saw him rule men's tennis after he booked a first Grand Slam semi-final appearance in almost two years.

The Serbian beat Kei Nishikori 6-3 3-6 6-2 6-2 to reach his first semi-final at any of the four majors since the US Open in 2016.

After a slump following two years of almost total domination of the men's game, Djokovic's star appears to be back on the rise and he is a clear contender to win a fourth Wimbledon title.

He has overcome motivation and physical issues and is happy with where he is heading, with a semi-final meeting against Rafael Nadal.

The Spaniard fought back from two sets to one down to defeat Juan Martin del Potro in a superb match.

When Del Potro sent a forehand rifling down the line to take the third set, it seemed Nadal might be following Federer out of the tournament, but the World No.1 recovered superbly to triumph 7-5 6-7 (7/9) 4-6 6-4 6-4 and keep alive his hopes of an 18th Grand Slam title.

After coming through his test, Djokovic said: "If I have to compare the game that I've played, the level of tennis that I've had in those years and today, I think it's pretty close.

"I know, as everything in life, we are evolving. I'm a different person, different player today.

"I like the level of tennis that I'm playing on right now. I really do. I think with the performances I've had, I deserve to be in the semi-finals. I don't want to stop here. I hope I can get a chance to fight for a trophy."

He had been yearning for a Centre Court date and did not disappoint, with a battling performance reminiscent of days gone by, even if he did fall out with umpire Carlos Ramos.

Djokovic incurred a warning for throwing his racket and then later complained of "double standards" when Nishikori was not punished for doing the same.

"I just asked the chair umpire, 'How did I deserve that warning?'," Djokovic said. "I just asked him whether he thought honestly that I damaged the court with the racket that I threw.

"Anybody who saw the match, saw that literally I kind of touched the grass. I don't know how to describe it.

"He said that he thought it damaged the court. Nishikori did the same in the fourth set and he didn't get a warning. I think that's not fair."

Nishikori is also on his way back up after injury, and the outcome could easily have been different had the Japanese won the game where he had Djokovic at 0-40 early in the third set.

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