Novak Djokovic breaks the code on Hubert Hurkacz serve to reach last-eight
The seven-time champion’s plans for a day off were scuppered by the strict 11pm curfew in SW19, meaning the match was halted on Sunday evening with Djokovic two sets to the good.
Upon returning to Centre Court, Djokovic was inconvenienced further when Polish 17th seed Hurkacz stole the third set.
But the 36-year-old hit back to register a 7-6 (6) 7-6 (6) 5-7 6-4 victory and book a 14th quarter-final at the Championships.
He said: “Big credit for Hubert for playing an amazing match, tough luck for him. he put up a great performance.
“Honestly, I don’t recall the last time I felt this miserable on returning games, due to his incredibly accurate and powerful serve.
“He’s got one of the best serves in the world and it’s so difficult to read it. Playing on the quickest surface it really favours the big servers so it was not really an enjoyable match for me.
“But I guess in the important moments last night I was fortunate to win the first set. This match could definitely have gone a different way but I held my nerve and I’m happy to win.”
Djokovic had not faced so much as a break point in his previous 53 service games, so a third tie-break seemed inevitable until Hurkacz forced two at 6-5 and the Serbian dumped the second into the net.
It was not really an enjoyable match for me
Hurkacz fended off two break points – the first he had faced since the second set, some 17 hours ago – at 3-3 in the fourth but when he slipped on the baseline at deuce, Djokovic converted the third.
It was the first time Hurkacz had dropped serve at these Championships and it proved enough to see the 23-time grand slam champion through to a meeting with Russian seventh seed Andrey Rublev in the last eight.
“He’s a different player to Hurkacz, for sure,” added Djokovic. “He’s got very powerful, quick groundstrokes, stays close to the line and has one of the best forehands in the game, loves to dictate… I’m not going to talk too much about tactics.
“I have to be ready. The matches are only going to get harder. It’s tough to say it’s going to get harder than what I experienced yesterday and today, but I have to be ready for that.
“Rublev has been a top-10 player for many years and he’s looking for his first semi-finals at a grand slam. Hopefully it’s not gonna happen.”
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