07 July 2023

Novak Djokovic wraps up win over Stan Wawrinka with Wimbledon curfew looming

07 July 2023

Novak Djokovic beat Stan Wawrinka and the Wimbledon curfew to book his place in the fourth round.

The match did not begin until 8.40pm, an hour later than Andy Murray and Stefanos Tsitsipas got under way on Thursday, but Djokovic finished a 6-3 6-1 7-6 (5) victory with 14 minutes to spare.

It certainly did Wawrinka no favours that Djokovic was against the clock as he clicked straight into top gear and pushed the pace at every opportunity.

It was a 31st consecutive victory for Djokovic at the All England Club, equalling Pete Sampras’ best, and the seven-time champion said: “He was two points away from extending this match to another day. Coming to the court we knew it was going to be really tight.

“I know I can always play better, I always have a couple of gears that I can go higher. Hopefully as the tournament progresses I can play better and better.”

This was a 27th meeting between the pair and, although Djokovic led 20-6, at grand slams they were tied at 4-4, with two of Wawrinka’s three titles coming after victories over the Serbian in finals.

Both were some years ago now, though, and it has been a long road back to the top 100 for 38-year-old Wawrinka after knee and foot surgeries.

Wimbledon has been by some distance his weakest slam and he cheerfully wrote off his chances completely ahead of a first grass-court meeting with Djokovic.

That proved to be realistic rather than pessimistic as Djokovic pounded precision groundstrokes into the corners, time and again drawing errors from his opponent after thumping exchanges.

Wawrinka’s statistics did not make pretty reading but it would be harsh to criticise the veteran too much, aside from a very low first-serve percentage, given the barrage of quality coming from the other end.

He served much better in the third set and fought exceptionally hard to force a tie-break.

Djokovic had won his last 11 tie-breaks at grand slams, famously not making an unforced error in six at the French Open. That record was in danger here when Wawrinka went 5-3 up but he was unable to send the contest to a second day as Djokovic booked a date with Hubert Hurkacz.

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