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'I'm really pleased with the way I finished the match”- Djokovic survives Hurkacz scare to reach Wimbledon fourth round

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 6 Jul 2019
  • Novak Djokovic recovered from the loss of the second set to beat Hubert Hurkacz and reach the Round of 16 at Wimbledon
  • Djokovic will face Frenchman, Ugo Humbert on Monday
Novak Djokovic (PA Sport)

Defending champion, Novak Djokovic lost a set at Wimbledon 2019 for the first time on Friday, but the world No. 1 recovered brilliantly to beat Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz 7-5 6-7 6-1 6-4 and move into the fourth round.

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Djokovic had eased through his first two matches against Philipp Kohlschreiber and Denis Kudla, but he faces his sternest challenge of the tournament so far against Hurkacz, who played some inspired tennis to take the second set, and briefly cast Djokovic’s title defence into some jeopardy.

However, the young Pole could not sustain that level, and just as he dropped the quality of his tennis at the start of the third set, Djokovic locked in completely, and dominated the rest of the match to book his spot in the second week.

Without appearing to do much, the Serbian squeezed his Hurkacz with his metronomic baseline game, finding length and accuracy almost at will, and most crucially, he began to take his chances. Djokovic was 1/10 on break point opportunities through the first two sets, but that percentage improved in the third and fourth sets- the Serbian converting three of his seven chances.

“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. “I should have capitalized 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”.

Djokovic wasn’t quite at his ruthless best at the start of the match, but after letting slip six break points, he finally converted at his seventh attempt to break for 6-5. The world No. 1 served out the opening set in the next game. 


Despite the disappointment of losing that first set, Hurkacz refused to go away, and saved three more break points in the seventh game of the second set to hold for 4-3. The 22-year-old may not have the fluidity of Djokovic off the ground, but he isn’t shabby in that department, and showed a willingness to hang with Djokovic in long rallies. What was most impressive though, was the athleticism of the big Pole. Hurkacz brought two set points in a thrilling twelfth game- the second via an incredible diving volley winner- but Djokovic hung on to push the set into a tie break.

The 6ft 5in Hurkacz pulled off another one of those stunning diving volleys on his way to opening up a 3-1 lead in the tie break, bringing an enchanted No. 1 Court audience to its feet, and while Djokovic kept coming back in the breaker, Hurkacz kept nudging ahead. The 22-year-old brought up a third set point with a pin-point backhand down the line after a lucky net cord bounced in his favour, and he sealed a terrific set with a serve-forehand winner combination.

“His serve is his greatest weapon”, Djokovic opined. “For someone that is as tall as him, he's moving really well. I thought he was getting some stretch balls that you wouldn't maybe expect him to get. He was sliding, diving, making some great points. Yeah, it was great performance from his side,” Djokovic noted at the end of the match.

Hurkacz unfortunately, could not sustain that astronomical level, and there was a palpable dip in his intensity at the start of the third set. Djokovic pounced, and quickly established a 3-0 advantage, and the Serbian controlled the rest of the match from there, keeping his opponent at arm’s length to ensure that there were no further dramas on No. 1 Court.

The 32-year-old closed out the win in just over three hours, and will next play France’s Next Gen star, Ugo Humbert, who upset Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets. 

Not that Djokovic really needed it, but the draw has opened up spectacularly for the Serbian, who was projected to meet Gael Monfils or Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round, and Stefanos Tsitsipas or Daniil Medvedev in the quarter finals. All of those players exited the tournament before those projected meetings.

Auger-Aliassime’s exit means Djokovic will not play a seeded player until a potential quarter final meeting with 21st seed, David Goffin, if the Belgian gets past Fernando Verdasco, while the highest-ranked player blocking his path to the final in 15th seed, Milos Raonic. 

Former finalist Raonic has so far survived a raucous second quarter which has already consumed Alexander Zverev, Kevin Anderson, Karen Khachanov and Stan Wawrinka.

“There were a lot of top seeds that went out in early rounds in Wimbledon. That's why these kind of tournaments are regarded as the most important events where you always come out with your best game”, Djokovic said . 
“The lower-ranked players, they find these tournaments as a great opportunity for them to highlight their strengths, to eventually get a scalp and win against a top player. That's what happens”. 
 “I'm going to have two days off now, playing last 16 on Monday. Plenty of time to get ready, work on certain things that maybe have not worked today so well.”

Djokovic vs Humbert is live from Wimbledon on Monday, 8 July.


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"I'm really pleased with the way I finished the match”- Djokovic survives Hurkacz scare to reach Wimbledon fourth round

Novak Djokovic recovered from the loss of the second set to beat Hubert Hurkacz and reach the Round of 16 at Wimbledon.

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