Ten out of ten as Djokovic battles into semi-finals

London: Novak Djokovic reached his 23rd Grand Slam semi-final and fifth in a row at Wimbledon on Wednesday as the 2011 champion defeated Croatia`s Marin Cilic for the 10th time in 10 meetings.

Top seed Djokovic won 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 6-2 and will face Bulgarian 11th seed Grigor Dimitrov, who knocked out defending champion Andy Murray, for a place in Sunday`s final.

The six-time major winner went level with Pete Sampras and Rafael Nadal by making the last-four at a major for the 23rd time.

"It was a tough five-setter. I knew that Marin would be aggressive. I took the first set and had chances to break in the second but didn`t take them," said Djokovic.

"I dropped serve and the momentum shifted but in the last two sets I regained control, swung through the ball, had more stability on the ground and I was getting my returns back.

"Even though I allowed him back in, I am happy that I managed to find the right pace."

Djokovic cut a frustrated figure in the second set when the roars from Centre Court, where Murray was fighting for his life, shattered the focus of Court One where he also asked for the score updates from the other semi-final to be switched off the screens.

"It was very distracting," said Djokovic. "It`s no excuse but when you play on Centre Court you can`t hear the noise from Court One."

The world number two said he was expecting a tough encounter with 23-year-old Dimitrov who will be playing in his first Grand Slam semi-final.

"He`s on fire at the moment. He`s won titles this year including Queen`s so hasn`t lost on grass. It`ll be a tough match."

Djokovic raced through the first set in 27 minutes allowing the 26th seed Cilic just a miserly six points on his serve.

But with coach and 2001 champion Goran Ivanisevic watching on, the 25-year-old Cilic roared back to level courtesy of a break in the fourth game of the second set.

He carved out another break for a 6-5 advantage in the third set with Djokovic hitting back immediately.

The Serb took two falls in the tie-break and his rhythm was shattered as Cilic edged it 7/4.

In a topsy-turvy encounter, back came the world number two who sped into a 4-0 lead in the fourth set with his footwork more assured after a change of shoes courtside.

Djokovic was now comfortably in the ascendancy and breaks in the first and seventh games of the decider steered him into the semi-finals at a major for the 16th time in his last 17 Grand Slam outings.

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