For the second match in a row at Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic cruised through a tricky tie-break en route to a straight-sets win at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. On Wednesday night, the Serb continued his quest for a fifth straight London title – and eighth overall – with a 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-5 win against aggressive Aussie Jordan Thompson.
The victory was Djokovic’s 350th match win at a Grand Slam, making him the third player to reach the milestone after Roger Federer (369) and Serena Williams (365). An eighth Wimbledon title would also tie Federer for the most men’s singles titles won at the event and make Djokovic the tournament’s oldest champion in the Open Era.
The 36-year-old will need at least one more victory to stand a chance of leaving Wimbledon as the top man in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. If he reaches the fourth round and overcomes current No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, the Serb would return to the top of the men’s game. The pair are set to meet in the final, a sensational matchup that would double as a shootout for world number one.
Djokovic won his 30th straight grass-court match with a hard-fought performance against Thompson on Center Court. The Serb broke serve twice in the match – once in the opening set and again in the final game – and didn’t face a break despite a relentless Aussie attack that won 46 of 73 clean points (63 percent).
“Actually, I don’t know if I wanted to meet him so early in the tournament, but I congratulate him on his great performance today,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “He was a little unlucky in the second set, he had some chances, but he played a great match. He definitely deserves a big round of applause.”
Thompson, a grass-court finalist at ‘s-Hertogenbosch last month, fought back from two sets down to beat Brandon Nakashima in the opening round and carried that confidence into his first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting with Djokovic. Thompson, a dangerous opponent with his attacking game, constantly put the second seed under pressure and did not allow him to settle from the baseline.
Still, Djokovic was watertight on serve and did just enough on the return – facing 21 aces – to secure a straight-set win in two hours and 27 minutes. A double fault by Thompson in the second set tie-break produced a decisive mini-break, and a series of dunk returns at the feet of a charging Thompson helped Djokovic to a decisive break in the final set.
Next up for Djokovic is either Stan Wawrinka or 29th seed Tomáš Martin Etcheverry, with the pair set to face each other in the second round on Thursday after rain messed up the rankings on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Thompson, who fell to 2-5 at the tournament level against the Top 5 players, was denied his first victory against an opponent of that stature at a major.