Thursday 29 September 2016

Novak Djokovic survives major scare to Wimbledon title defence against Kevin Anderson

John Skilbeck

Published 07/07/2015 | 14:53

Novak Djokovic celebrates victory over Kevin Anderson during day Seven of the Wimbledon Championships
Novak Djokovic celebrates victory over Kevin Anderson during day Seven of the Wimbledon Championships
Novak Djokovic celebrates victory over Kevin Anderson during day Seven of the Wimbledon Championships
Novak Djokovic and Kevin Anderson (left) shake hands after their match during day Eight of the Wimbledon Championships
Novak Djokovic kisses the court after beating Kevin Anderson during day Eight of the Wimbledon Championships
Novak Djokovic of Serbia walks off court after winning his match against Kevin Anderson of South Africa at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships
Novak Djokovic of Serbia requests his towel from a ball girl during his match against Kevin Anderson of South Africa at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships
Novak Djokovic of Serbia wipes his face during his match against Kevin Anderson of South Africa at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships
Boris Becker, coach of Novak Djokovic of Serbia during his match against Kevin Anderson of South Africa at the Wimbledon Tennis Championship
Boris Becker, coach of Novak Djokovic of Serbia during his match against Kevin Anderson of South Africa at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after winning his match against Kevin Anderson of South Africa at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships
Novak Djokovic celebrates victory over Kevin Anderson during day Eight of the Wimbledon Championships

Novak Djokovic survived a Court One shoot-out with Kevin Anderson to keep the defence of his Wimbledon title going.

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Big-serving South African Anderson had taken the first two sets of the Court One clash on Monday evening before Djokovic battled back to level and force a deciding set, that fading light meant was held over until Tuesday.

Djokovic experienced some nervy moments on the resumption, fending off break points, before sealing a 6-7 (6/8) 6-7 (6/8) 6-1 6-4 7-5 fourth-round success, breaking decisively in the 11th game as Anderson's served faltered to complete his comeback.

The world number one will face US Open champion Marin Cilic on Wednesday in the quarter-finals.

Djokovic was on top when the players came off on Monday evening. It was widely felt that Anderson would benefit most from the decision to call off the match for the night, rather than switch the final set to the floodlit Centre Court.

And the 14th seed came out strongly when, at the second attempt after a brief shower, play began on Tuesday.

Anderson blasted three aces in the opening game, after firing down 32 on Monday, before Djokovic held with ease in the next.

Anderson's big serve got him out of trouble from deuce in game three.

Then came a moment he will reflect on as a missed opportunity.

A double fault from Djokovic and a loose forehand gave Anderson 0-30 in the next game, a glimpse of an opening against the world number one's serve, and another sloppy forehand presented two break points at 15-40.

But Djokovic held on, Anderson failing to strike, and it was a big opportunity spurned.

Anderson won a thrilling rally in a sixth game that he took to deuce, but again Djokovic stubbornly held serve.

Then Anderson's serve, his money-maker, broke down at the most critical point. Two double faults in a row brought up a pair of break points in game 11, and a sublime Djokovic return at the toes of Anderson gave the Serbian his breakthrough for a 6-5 lead.

Given Anderson had broken serve just once in the match, Djokovic was always likely to hold from there.

And despite dropping the first two points of the game, Djokovic soon swept away his opponent's hopes, with a backhand from Anderson on match point floating beyond the baseline to settle the issue.

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