Thu, 11 Aug 2022

The tennis great is now through to the Grand Slam's quarter-finals for the 13th time

Novak Djokovic made history once more on Sunday by seeing off Tim Van Rijthoven to book his place in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.

The win was Djokovic's 25th consecutive victory at tour-level on grass, which is the third longest streak of this nature in the Open era.

But his 25th successive victory at Wimbledon overall meant he also drew level with childhood hero Pete Sampras in fourth place for the longest unbeaten run at SW19 in the Open era, and also kept his hopes alive of leveling the American legend with seven triumphs at the British Grand Slam too.

With his 83rd career win at Wimbledon also achieved, two more can see Djokovic pass Jimmy Connors with the second-most at the competition behind leader Roger Federer (105).

In an emotional post-match interview, Djokovic spoke about the special place that Centre Court has become for him and reminisced about how the first tennis match he ever watched on television as a four or five-year-old child in Serbia was Sampras winning his first title there.

Djokovic's memory was slightly off in that he would have actually been six when Sampras clinched his maiden Wimbledon crown in 1993.

But still, the landmark "inspired me a lot" he said, and "made me fall in love with this beautiful sport".

"Since then I always dreamed of playing on this court, of winning Wimbledon, and now I've had that blessing and privilege to win it more than once.

"Every time I step out on the court you can feel the uniqueness, just special, everything is special about the court. All white, no advertisement, everything is focused on players and tennis. Thank you for being here, and making it even nicer," he said to those in attendance.

The Serb booked his place in a 13th quarter-final at Wimbledon by beating his opponent 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 in a match that saw him also pip the local 11pm curfew by 20 minutes.

Taking the first set with ease, Djokovic suffered a scare in the 50-minute second set won by his 104th ranked foe who had the Centre Court crowd behind him for a spell.

Leaving no doubt, though, the 35-year-old veteran roared back to take the third and fourth sets 6-1, 6-2 and set up a meeting with Jannik Sinner on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in his interview, Djokovic described Van Rijthoven as a "very tough" opponent as a new face on the tour.

"He was on the streak on this surface and I knew it wasn't going to be easy, with that serve, and a lot of talent, a great touch, a powerful forehand.

"He can do a lot of damage and it took me a bit of time to get used to his pace. The conditions under the roof are a little bit different ... it takes a bit of time, a bit of adjustment ... but overall I closed out the match well," Djokovic went on.

Furthermore, Djokovic was relieved to beat the curfew and not have the match run into a second day.

"I've had some previous experiences, playing two days under the roof, with [Rafael] Nadal some years ago. It's never really pleasant if you can't finish the match in the same day. I'm glad I did and I'm just looking forward to the next challenge," he concluded.

This will come against Sinner, who should provide a tougher assignment after having just beaten Nadal's compatriot and a figure considered the future of Spanish tennis and the sport in general in Carlos Alcaraz, also on Sunday.

A rookie himself, 20-year-old Italian Sinner became the youngest player to reach this stage of the competition since 2014.

(RT.com)

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