With a pair of impressive grass-court wins on the line on Sunday in the fourth round of Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic extended his run to 25 court victories in a row. He ended Dutch joker Tim van Rijthoven’s perfect 8-0 grass season with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 win on center court to cap off the Dutchman’s dream debut in Grand Slam.
Top-seeded Djokovic was challenged by his opponent’s powerful serve and multi-faceted forehand but showed his championship pedigree by locking in his baseline game to produce a brilliant response to his dropped second set of the tournament.
“I knew going into the match that it was always going to be a tough and difficult game against Tim, who I had never faced before,” Djokovic said in his post-match statement. “I watched him play. He has a very good grass game, which he proved today. [It] It was a very good fight, especially in the first two sets.
“But overall I think I played very well, very solid from the back of the court. I picked up his serve rhythm, started to read his serve better in the third and fourth sets.”
After van Rijthoven fended off four break points to serve up the second set, sending Djokovic sliding onto the turf with a well-disguised strike, the Serb took a 5-0 lead in the third to re-establish himself as the dominant force in the competition. He committed just two unforced errors in the third set as he found his rhythm on the return, knocking out free points which served to boost van Rijthoven’s confidence in the early stages.
Attacking the backhand corner from the Dutchman, Djokovic earned an instant break in the fourth set to stifle any thought of a turnover. Ever the perfectionist, he let out a roar of frustration after a rare miss later in the set before finishing the match with ease after two hours and 37 minutes.
“I’m really happy with the way I closed the game,” added Djokovic. “I lost the rhythm of my serve a bit towards the end of the game, but overall it was just a good fight and a really tough game for me on grass.”
Djokovic’s 25 straight grass court wins – all of which have come at Wimbledon, where he is a three-time defending champion – are the second-best all-time. He broke the tie with Rod Laver with Sunday’s result but trails Roger Federer’s 65-game grass-court win from 2003-08.
A thank you from one caption to another.@DjokerNole was happy to see @BillieJeanKing always present at 10:45 p.m. on the central courtWimbledon?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Wimbledon | #CentreCourt100 pic.twitter.com/B8BI964dho
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) Wimbledon/status/1543714202254249990?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>July 3, 2022
The Serb will look to extend that winning streak on Tuesday against 10th seed Jannik Sinner. After claiming his first career victory on grass in the first round, the Italian began to feel at home on London lawns. He didn’t drop serve in a 6-1, 6-4, 6-7(8), 6-3 win over Carlos Alcaraz earlier on Sunday.
Djokovic won the only previous ATP Head2Head match between the pair 6-4, 6-2 last year at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. Looking ahead to their quarter-final encounter, Djokovic is full of praise for his next opponent.
“He matures a lot on the big stage. I think he doesn’t feel too much pressure on the big stage,” Djokovic said of Sinner. “He is very solid. He has all the shots in his game: serve, return, forehand, backhand. He constantly puts pressure on his opponents.
“I also see myself in his game a bit, from the back of the court, playing flat backhands, constantly staying at the back of the line, trying to put pressure on opponents.
As Djokovic aims for his seventh Wimbledon crown and his 21st Grand Slam title, he prepares for his toughest challenge of the fortnight.