Novak Djokovic produced another dominant performance to reach the Wimbledon fourth round after beating fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanović 6-0 6-3 6-4 on Friday.
After a comprehensive, straight-sets victory against Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis earlier in the week, Djokovic was once again in a ruthless mood on Centre Court as he swept aside Kecmanović.
“Honestly, I think I have been playing better and better as the tournament progresses which is something you always wish for,” Djokovic said in his post-match interview on court.
“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.”The top seed raced through the first set in just 24 minutes, as he continues his quest to win a fourth consecutive Wimbledon title.
It wasn’t until the second game of the second set that Kecmanović, ranked 30th in the world, got on the scoreboard. At one point, that set was evenly poised at 3-3, but Djokovic pulled away with a break of serve at 4-3.
In the final set, Djokovic broke twice before Kecmanović hit back with a break of his own — his first of the match.
It proved too little too late, however, and the 20-time grand slam champion had the emphatic win sewn up inside two hours, much to the enjoyment of the crowd.
“I don’t take your presence for granted, so thank you for coming out and supporting tennis and both players, we appreciate it,” he said, addressing Centre Court.
Djokovic will face the Netherlands’ Tim van Rijthoven in the fourth round. The world No. 104, a wild card in the Wimbledon draw, has shot up the rankings in recent weeks ahead of making his first grand slam appearance.
Van Rijthoven defeated Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4 6-3 6-4 on Friday to take his winning run to eight matches.
It was 2013, the last time Novak Djokovic lost on Centre Court, 35 matches ago now. Andy Murray was the victor that day and Friday’s opponent, Miomir Kecmanovic, was never going to emulate him.
For a start he’s 22 and ranked 25. More importantly, he’s Serbian. So playing Djokovic is not like facing just any good player. What was it Jose Mourinho said about his standing at Porto? ‘God, and after God, me.’
That’s Djokovic in Serbia. Maybe a bit closer. Maybe it’s a tie; or Djokovic bests God by a nose. Either way, for Kecmanovic to have been standing across the Centre Court net from the greatest living Serbian must have been intimidating beyond words.
But Djokovic isn’t a bad guy. He didn’t leave his young countryman humiliated or in crisis.. He wasn’t casual or disrespectful. He played his game. He won the first set 6-0 to show that he meant business and only towards the end did he get a little soft.
Tennis has a busy Integrity Unit so we have to be careful with our words here but if this was a boxing match one might argue the superior fighter was being kind to his opponent, propping him up a little. He knew he could finish this any time he wanted.
He did so at 6-4. Close enough to let the young man off court with pride and confidence intact; not so close to pose a true danger to Grand Slam number 21. Having taken three points off Djokovic’s last six service games, Kecmanovic suddenly broke him for the first time, then held serve.
From serving for the match 5-2 up, Djokovic now led 5-4. That was enough: he won the final four points, bent down, touched the turf, then placed a hand on his heart. As well he might. This is a special place for him.
There are only three players who have won four consecutive men’s singles titles at Wimbledon in the open era: Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer. Djokovic is aiming to become the fourth and so far, so good.
He looks in great nick, is moving well and playing some stunning shots. Even without the intimidation factor there were moments when Kecmanovic looked utterly lost before the arsenal he was facing.
To win the second set, Djokovic played a lob so perfect and bamboozling that Kecmanovic was heading towards his chair before it had even landed. There were very many shots like that. Passes, deliciously placed crosscourt forehands, drops, volleys, a barrage of winners that would have tested the best here – those that Djokovic must overcome in week two.
So, for Kecmanovic, it wasn’t just like trying to beat The Queen. It would be like trying to beat The Queen if she was really, really exceptional at tennis, and in the form of her life.
Djokovic was 40-0 up in his first service game when the sound of crashing bottles interrupted his concentration with the ball mid-air. He offered up a double fault, but won the next point. His second service game, however, gave Kecmanovic three break points – including one at the end of a 17 shot rally – at which point the champion got serious.
There was always the possibility that by treating his opponent with kid gloves, Djokovic could fall into a trap, or at least a slumber. Going 0-40 down acted as a glass of cold water to the face. Djokovic woke up, saved the three break points, then took the next five for good measure. He never looked back in that first set, winning it to love.
Djokovic has seen his young opponent coming through and knows he cannot be taken for granted. He can hit, no doubt of that. In the second set, with Djokovic leading 2-1 and the game tied 30-30 on Kecmanovic’s serve – so pretty crucial – the pair shared a punishing 31 shot rally that ended in Kecmanovic’s favour.