Wimbledon: Djokovic revels in reflected glory as mirror pep talk saves day
Novak Djokovic revealed "a little pep talk in the mirror" gave him the motivation to rescue his Wimbledon mission after Jannik Sinner threatened a monumental Centre Court upset.
Seeking a fourth consecutive Wimbledon title, and seventh in all, Djokovic fell two sets behind against 20-year-old Italian Sinner and left the court for a toilet break at the height of his crisis.
Djokovic returned recharged to win 5-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 for a 26th consecutive Wimbledon match win, reaching the semi-finals for an 11th time and later revealing what had occurred away from the public glare.
"I went out and had a little bit of refreshment, toilet break and a little pep talk in the mirror," said Djokovic.
That sparked laughter from the crowd, but Djokovic said: "It's actually true. Sometimes in these sort of circumstances where nothing is happening positively for you on court, and the other guy is dominating the play, sometimes these things are necessary: a little break and a little pep talk and try to recuperate and regather the thoughts, and reassemble everything that you have, and come at your opponent with the best possible game.
"I was fortunate to start the third set very well. I broke his serve early in the set and I think that has given me a confidence boost, and I saw a little bit of doubt in his game, in his movement, and I guess the experience of playing on this stage for many matches helped me a little bit to deal and cope with the pressure."
It was a third victory from two sets in arrears for Djokovic at Wimbledon, and a seventh overall in his grand slam career.
Djokovic described Sinner as "so mature for his age", adding: "He's got plenty of time, and it was unfortunate for him today, but he's had a very good tournament."
The defending champion said the first two sets and the final three felt like "two different matches", the change having been striking once Djokovic emerged from his talking-to in the mirror.
"I go through the same kind of doubtful moments as anybody else," said 35-year-old Djokovic, who is chasing a 21st grand slam title this fortnight.
"The inner fight is always the biggest fight you have to fight on the court, and so trying to win that internal fight is a big challenge.
"Once you do that, the external circumstances are more likely to go in your favour. I always believed I could turn the match around. I've done that quite a few times in grand slams, from being two sets to love down. Maybe it's the experience, maybe it's the toilet break, maybe it's everything combined, but I'm just glad I'm through.
"Every single time I step on this court the love affair keeps going and keeps growing, so hopefully I can maintain that run."