Novak Djokovic dug deep to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon with a gritty 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Australian qualifier Bernard Tomic on Wednesday.
Djokovic was well below his best for long periods in a tense quarterfinal clash on Court One, but the world number two showed all his battling qualities to finally subdue his teenage opponent.
The Serbian second seed, who has now reached five successive Grand Slam semifinals, will play six-time champion Roger Federer or France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for a place in the final.
Australian Open champion Djokovic arrived at Wimbledon last week with questions over his frame of mind as he prepared for his first tournament since his remarkable 43-match winning run was brought to an end by Federer at the French Open.
But the 24-year-old, who lost in the semi-finals here in 2007 and 2010, will take over from Rafael Nadal as world number one if he can reach his first final at the All England Club.
Tomic has practiced with Djokovic regularly since the pair met an exhibition match in Australia last year and he admitted this week that his friend thrashed him in one-set match on the training court before Wimbledon.
This was a much tighter affair right from the start. In a marathon opening game lasting nine minutes, Tomic staved off three break points before Djokovic's pressure finally told when the Serb's drop-volley secured the break.
Djokovic's astute shot selection kept Tomic from establishing any rhythm and another break in the seventh game gave him the first set in emphatic fashion.
However, Djokovic produced a lacklustre effort in the second set and a sloppy service game, including a double-fault on break point, gifted Tomic a 3-1 lead.
Tomic, the youngest male quarter-finalist here since Boris Becker in 1986, had Goran Ivanisevic and Pat Rafter supporting him from the stands and even those two grass-court experts must have been impressed with the way the teenager closed out the set.
When Tomic, unloading some piercing ground-strokes, broke in the first game of the third set, it briefly seemed an upset was on the cards.
Djokovic looked increasingly frustrated as he stalked the baseline bemoaning his misfortune. But he didn't have long to wait to break back as Tomic played an error-strewn game at 3-2.
Tomic suddenly surrendered the initiative with another woeful service game and Djokovic broke before taking the set.
When Djokovic broke at the start of the fourth set and then won his seventh consecutive game, it would have been easy for Tomic to cave in. Yet the youngster hit back with a break of his own.
Djokovic kept plugging away though and the Serb finally made the decisive break at 5-5 with a sublime drop-shot before unleashing a roar of delight.