‘So far, so good’ as Djokovic cruises into last 16
July 01 2022 10:47 PM
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Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic during their match on the fifth day of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, yesterday. (AFP)

AFP/ London

Three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic reached the Wimbledon fourth round for the 14th time yesterday with a straight-sets demolition of Serbian compatriot Miomir
Kecmanovic.
Djokovic, looking to pull level with Pete Sampras as a seven-time Wimbledon champion, triumphed 6-0, 6-3, 6-4.
Yesterday’s win was the 330th of Djokovic’s Grand Slam career.
“It means that I’ve been playing for quite a few years, which I’m very grateful for and I’m very blessed to be in the position to compete at the highest level and secure more wins in Grand Slams,” said the 35-year-old top seed.
“I’m proud of the consistency at this level.”
After dropping one set in his opening win over Kwon Soon-woo, the Serb then only lost seven games against Thanasi Kokkinakis.
“Honestly I think I have been playing better and better as the tournament progresses, which is something you always wish for,” said Djokovic.
“You want to raise the level of tennis up a notch each match so that’s what’s happening. I know I can always do better and I always expect the highest from myself but so far, so good and I look forward to the next round.”
Yesterday’s win was Djokovic’s 22nd in a row on grass. He has not lost a grass-court match since falling to Marin Cilic in the final at Queen’s four years ago.
“I started very well, very strong with a lot of intensity and focus,” added Djokovic, whose only blip was being broken when he served for the match at 5-2 in the third set.
Waiting in the fourth round will be Dutch wild card Tim van Rijthoven. Playing in his debut Grand Slam main draw, the world number 104 defeated 22nd seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.
The 25-year-old Van Rijthoven proved his prowess on grass by winning the ‘s-Hertogenbosch title last month, defeating world number one Daniil Medvedev in the final.
“Before the tournament started, it was a dream for me to play Djokovic,” said Van Rijthoven, only the seventh man since 2000 to reach the round of 16 on his Grand Slam debut.
“So to be able to have that chance and to maybe even play on Centre Court or Court 1 is beautiful and magical.”
British ninth seed Cameron Norrie also qualified for the last 16 with a thumping 6-4, 6-1, 6-0 win over Steve Johnson.
Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz also swept past Germany’s Oscar Otte into the fourth round, winning 6-3, 6-1, 6-2.
Meanwhile John Isner set a new record for the number of aces on the ATP Tour yesterday but it was not enough to overcome Italy’s Jannik Sinner.
The giant American walloped 24 aces but was broken twice in the match and went down 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 in two hours and 20 minutes.
Isner started his match against the 10th seed four aces behind Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic, who has served 13,728.

Women’s seeds tumble
Greek fifth seed Sakkari lost 6-3, 7-5 to German world number 103 Tatjana Maria, who only returned to the tour last year after maternity leave.
Maria, in the fourth round of a Slam for the first time, will face former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko for a place in the quarter-finals. Ostapenko, a semi-finalist at the All England Club in 2018, took her winners count to 102 over three rounds by defeating Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.
Also exiting yesterday was 2018 champion Angelique Kerber, with the German 15th seed beaten 6-4, 7-5 by Elise Mertens.
The Belgian, who had to save two match points in her previous round, next faces world number two Ons Jabeur.
A quarter-finalist in 2021, Tunisia’s Jabeur breezed past French teenager Diane Parry 6-2, 6-3.


Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur celebrates after beating France’s Diane Parry in their match yesterday. (AFP)



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