Novak Djokovic set for fourth round clash with breakout grass prospect
Novak Djokovic booked his place in the fourth round at Wimbledon and a meeting with the unknown.
The defending champion and number one seed beat fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic 6-0 6-3 6-4 for his 35th straight win on Centre Court.
Djokovic is no stranger to the last 16 at the All England Club, having now reached that stage for the 13th time.
But he has never before met Dutch wild card Tim van Rijthoven, the breakout star of the summer in the men’s draw.
In fact Djokovic may not have even heard of the 25-year-old until last month, given he had not won a single ATP Tour match until he was a surprise winner of the s-Hertogenbosch tournament in his homeland.
Van Rijthoven has now won eight consecutive matches on the grass after his 6-4 6-3 6-4 third-round victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili.
He has also become an unlikely Wimbledon favourite, with a familiar cry of ‘Come on Tim’ echoing around Court 12.
“I think it’s Tim Henman you’re talking about,” smiled Van Rijthoven.
“I think that’s just a little bit before my time. So obviously I do know Tim Henman as a player. But for me, it didn’t really sound familiar.”
Van Rijthoven may have to get used to it for the next couple of days, at least, as the Centre Court comedians will be out in force for his clash with Djokovic.
“Before the tournament started, it was a dream for me to play him basically,” added Van Rijthoven.
“So to be able to have that chance and to maybe even play on Centre Court or Court One is beautiful and magical.
“I go into every match thinking I can win the match. Also against Djokovic I’ll go into that match thinking I can win that match.”
Djokovic had little trouble dispatching his friend and countryman until he served for the set at 5-2 and was promptly broken.
35 wins in a row on Centre Court for @DjokerNole 👏#Wimbledon | #CentreCourt100 pic.twitter.com/BRbTp2KyBo
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 1, 2022
So the 35-year-old, seeking a seventh SW19 title, cut an irritated figure as he served out the match at the second attempt.
“Honestly I think I have been playing better and better as the tournament progresses which is something you always wish for,” he said.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Kazakh star Alexander Bublik hit six underarm serves in one service game during a four-set defeat to America’s Frances Tiafoe.
SIX underarm serves in one game, could only be Alexander Bublik 😅#Wimbledon pic.twitter.com/YnQQndvkLs
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 1, 2022
Bublik had the crowd on Court Two in stitches as he saved three break points and even won the game, albeit to trail 1-3 in the fourth set.
His antics prompted Nick Kyrgios, the master of the underarm serve, to tweet: “I love it, it’s different.
“But if it was me, I would be accused of tanking and get fined a minimum of 15 thousand pounds.”
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