World No.1 Novak Djokovic negotiated big-hitter Hubert Hurkacz to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon.
The defending champion became the only top-10 seed left on his side of the draw after last year’s runner-up Kevin Anderson and Russian 10th seed Karen Khachanov were both eliminated on Friday.
The world No.1 was caught up by Hurkacz as he came off second best in all the razzle-dazzle shots the 22-year-old could throw at him, and he was also banned from wearing his baseball cap by the umpire as it fell foul of Wimbledon’s all-white rules.
However, Djokovic is not known as Mr Consistency for nothing and he survived all the hullabaloo to reach the last 16 for the 12th time at the grasscourt major with a 7-5 6-7(5) 6-1 6-4 win.
“Credit to Hurkacz for playing well. He pushed me. He served well. He attacked the ball mid-court. He gave it all and played a great quality match,” Djokovic said.
The dream #Wimbledon debut rolls into the second week…
Ugo Humbert beats Felix Auger-Aliassime to set up a tie with defending champion Novak Djokovic in the fourth round pic.twitter.com/OZHuzMZYXe
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 5, 2019
“I should have capitalised on my opportunities also in the second set. I wasn’t really on top of his second serve. I was a bit hesitant in the play, which wasn’t the case in the first two matches.
“But I think third set was great. Fourth set, as well, very solid. I’m really pleased with the way I finished the match.”
Playing the Serbian for the second time at a major in five weeks, the world No.48 was expected to roll over in straight sets, just as he had done at Roland Garros.
But when the top seed was told by umpire Carlos Bernardes to remove his baseball cap midway through the first set, for a while it looked like he had been shorn of his super-powers as he missed three break points in the sixth game.
But the Serb made the breakthrough in the 11th game with Hurkacz saving three break points but succumbing to a fourth.
The Polish ace was not going to go away quietly, though, and he fashioned two break points at 6-5 in the second, one with a Boris Becker-esque dive volley at the net.
Djokovic repelled both to force the tiebreak, but another spectacular volley from Hurkacz helped him level the match.
Stung into action, 15-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic broke to love twice as he raced away with the third.
A single break in the fourth was enough to wrap up proceedings, the 32-year-old coming through a decent test to safely make week two.
Djokovic will next face Frenchman Ugo Humbert, who upset Canadian 19th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4 7-5 6-3.
“It’s a dream. It’s maybe the best match of my career, for sure,” Humbert said. “I would like to enjoy this night, this victory, and I will prepare my match against Djokovic with my coach.”
Earlier in the men’s draw, Argentina’s Guido Pella eliminated last year’s finalist and South African sixth seed Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-3 7-6(4) result on Centre Court.
Tenth seed Karen Khachanov also exited following a 6-3 7-6(3) 6-1 defeat to Spain’s Roberto Bautista-Agut.
Canada’s Milos Raonic entered the second week of the tournament after he dispatched American Reilly Opelka 7-6(1) 6-2 6-1, with the 2016 finalist to next face Anderson’s conqueror Pella.
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