Novak Djokovic trails Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in many of the game’s most important metrics, but when it comes to consistently reaching the third round at Wimbledon he leaves his rivals in his wake.
The Serb dismantled American Denis Kudla 6-3 6-2 6-2 with ruthless efficiency to satisfy the Centre Court crowd.
That put him in the last 32 at the All England Club for the 11th straight year, an Open era mark only surpassed by American Jimmy Connors – and one more than the game’s most decorated player Federer.
Consistency has become the Serb’s hallmark. While he may lack the shotmaking brilliance of Federer or the raw power and energy of Nadal, he rarely allows his level to slip below a supremely high watermark.
Which makes slip-ups against those plying their trade at the level of Kudla an exceptionally rare occurrence.
“Consistency was one of the keys and focus points of my Grand Slam career going back 10 years – I always aim to play my best in Grand Slams,” Djokovic said after his one-hour-and-33-minute victory.
“I guess the quality of tennis that I produce in the Slams is pretty high. That’s what allows me to have the results like this.”
The world No.1 had only once lost to a player ranked lower than the 111th-ranked Kudla in a Grand Slam – to Denis Istomin at the 2017 Australian Open – and there was never any chance of a repeat on Wednesday.
Things had threatened to turn ugly for Kudla when he lost the first five games, but he fought to ensure the score stayed respectable and the match remained competitive.
"How dare he do that!" ????
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 3, 2019
Four-time champion Djokovic allowed a few match points to go begging before finally wrapping up victory to set up an encounter with Poland’s 48th-ranked Hubert Hurkacz.
As he charges towards a 16th Grand Slam title, Djokovic is feeling confident.
“Ambitions are high,” he said.
“(But) I have to think only about the next challenge and take things one step at a time.”
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