Wednesday 17 July 2019

Novak Djokovic's 'ambitions are high' as he eases into Wimbledon third round

Novak Djokovic during his match against Denis Kudla on day three of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Novak Djokovic during his match against Denis Kudla on day three of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Jonathan Veal

Novak Djokovic continued his serene progress at Wimbledon on Wednesday, almost effortlessly dismantling American Denis Kudla 6-3 6-2 6-2 to reach the third round with ruthless efficiency and just enough flamboyance to satisfy the Centre Court crowd.

Things had threatened to turn ugly for the 111th-ranked Kudla when he lost the first five games, but he fought his corner to ensure the score stayed respectable and the match remained competitive.

The holder and four times champion allowed a few match points to go begging before finally wrapping up victory in an hour and 33 minutes to set up an encounter with Poland's 48th-ranked Hubert Hurkacz.

At this stage of the tournament, few would bet against Djokovic winning a 16th Grand Slam title next Sunday and the world number one certainly sounds confident.

"Ambitions are high and I've been fortunate in my career to do so well in Slams," he said.

"I have to think only about the next challenge and take things one step at a time."

Meanwhile, Reilly Opelka blasted his way into the third round at Wimbledon as the giant 21-year-old American's serve eventually proved too hot to handle for triple grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka in a high-octane five set duel.

Opelka came through 7-5 3-6 4-6 6-4 8-6 against the 22nd seeded Swiss for the biggest win of his career and there will be plenty of bigger names in the draw now scrabbling anxiously for a tape of this match.

"It's a huge win. More so the situation of the match being down two sets to one against him," Opelka told reporters.

"He got really comfortable, started hitting some really good returns. I had to adjust a lot. My mind was always thinking, especially after I lost the third set."

At 6ft 11in (2.10 metres) the former Wimbledon junior champion is the joint-tallest-ever ATP-ranked player (with Ivo Karlovic) and, unsurprisingly, his biggest weapon is his serve.

It reached 142mph (228kph) on Wednesday - the fastest of the Championship so far - and, combined with some surprisingly deft court movement, is the perfect Wimbledon weapon.

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