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Novak Djokovic rises above umpiring error to join Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro in the fourth round at Wimbledon 2018

  • Novak Djokovic defeated Kyle Edmund in four sets despite controversy and adversity on Centre Court
  • Djokovic joins Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro in the last 16 at Wimbledon 2018
Novak Djokovic argues with the umpire (GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic rises above controversial umpiring error to beat Kyle Edmund in four sets and reach the second week at Wimbledon 2018. 

With the world seemingly against him, Djokovic delivered a defiant performance, coming back from a set down to beat British no. 1 Edmund, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. He joins Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro in the fourth round. 

Not only was Djokovic facing a fired-up, rising young player who had won their last encounter, he was taking on a British player on Centre Court – and the crowd were considerably more fired up than they might otherwise have been, thanks to England’s 2-0 victory over Sweden in the quarterfinals of the football World Cup. 

Djokovic argues his case (GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
As if that wasn’t enough, Djokovic also had to rise above an umpiring error that could have been extremely costly. He had weathered the initial storm from Edmund well, composing himself after dropping the first set to build a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 lead, and at 3-3 in the fourth set, set up two break points. Trying desperately to save the first, Edmund raced into the net to try to chase down a drop shot, dropped the racquet as he frantically flicked it cross-court for what was judged a winner. 

There were literally four ways in which Edmund had lost the point; the ball had bounced twice before he hit it, his racquet left his hand, his body touched the net before his own riposte bounced twice and the shot he hit was actually out. Djokovic’s ire in the moment was directed at the double bounce, and he argued his case furiously, but umpire Jake Garner would not acknowledge it. 

Then when Djokovic tried to challenge the ball (which was out, as aforementioned), he wasn’t allowed, told that it had been too long since the point was played.

It was the kind of umpiring error which could have changed the course of the match, especially when Edmund saved more break points and went on to hold for 4-3. Under the circumstances, Djokovic did superbly well to move on from the incident. He produced a strong hold of serve to briefly quiet the reinvigorated crowd, then as Edmund served at 4-4, clawed his way back from 15-40 to break point and converted when Edmund shanked a forehand. 

There was one last dose of controversy – or a potential redressing of the balance, depending on which way you look at it – when Djokovic’s ace down the T on match point looked to be dubious, but Edmund was out of challenges and had to accept the verdict. 

Djokovic celebrates victory  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
The drama in the last set should not obscure what was a wholly well-contested match by both players. Edmund trailed in the overall head-to-head coming in but had won their last match, the only one played since he became a Grand Slam semifinalist at the Australian Open and a top-20 player, and the man from Yorkshire had seemingly embraced being the repository of British hopes and dreams in the absence of Andy Murray. As soon as he fired a running forehand down the line to save a break point at 1-1, it was plain that he was up for the challenge and indeed it was Edmund who was the star of the opening set. Firing winners down both lines, showcasing his improved movement and attacking the net – not a play he’s known for – Edmund took advantage of some tentative play from Djokovic, breaking on his fourth opportunity when he prevailed in a cat-and-mouse point at net to lead 4-3.

Edmund had to come back from 0-30 when he was serving for the first set, but Djokovic rather let him off the hook with some poor errors. The Serb was visibly frustrated with himself as he fell behind 4-6, and failed to convert break points on Edmund’s first service game in the second set, but not for nothing is he a 12-time Grand Slam champion. He steadied himself, cut out a lot of the self-recrimination and bent to the task of keeping pressure on the Edmund serve, even as the British player was starting to land a higher percentage of first deliveries. It paid off; after going 0-8 on break points, Djokovic finally broke through as Edmund double-faulted at 3-4 and served out the set without a wobble to level the match. 

Djokovic broke early in the third set to take firm control of the match and despite the provocation offered by the crowd, who cheered when he was given a time violation, maintained a high level of play while Edmund deflated.

Djokovic will face Karen Khachanov of Russia in the fourth round, after the powerful baseliner came back from two sets to love down against Frances Tiafoe.
Earlier in the day, Rafael Nadal had booked his place in the round of 16 with a no-fuss win over Australian teenager Alex de Minaur. He’ll face fellow lefty Jiri Vesely, who beat Fabio Fognini in four sets, with the winner facing either Juan Martin del Potro or Gilles Simon.

But there were two more high-profile casualties at a tournament which has seen record numbers of them so far. Fourth seed Alexander Zverev lost his way against qualifier – and former top-10 player – Ernests Gulbis, who won their match in five sets, and Nick Kyrgios slumped to 0-4 against Kei Nishikori who delivered a superb shotmaking performance.

All of the fourth-round matches will be played on Monday. 

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Novak Djokovic rises above umpiring error to join Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro in the fourth round at Wimbledon 2018

Former champions Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal reach the round of 16 at Wimbledon 2018 but Alexander Zverev, Nick Kyrgios among those who crash out

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