World No. 1 Novak Djokovic sailed through the opening two sets, but needed to make the most of his years of experience to survive a gruelling third-set tie-breaker to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon for the 13th time. The Serbian continued his pursuit of a record-tying 20th Grand Slam title on Friday, beating American Denis Kudla 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 in two hours and 16 minutes. This was the pair’s third Grand Slam meeting since the start of 2019, and Djokovic has won all nine sets they have played. Besides, Djokovic is the first man to win at least 75 matches at all four Grand Slams.
— ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) July 2, 2021
After the Serbian pocketed the opening two sets with little difficulty, Kudla came back impressively in the match. At 6/5 in the third-set tie-break, Kudla even earned a set point. But Djokovic held his nerve to survive the scare before seeing out the tie-breaker to win the match in two hours and 16 minutes. The Serbian struck 34 winners and overcame back-to-back double faults earlier in the third-set tie-break to close down the set.
Five-time Wimbledon champion, Djokovic, will next play 17th seed Cristian Garin, who eliminated Spaniard Pedro Martinez 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. “It feels amazing [to reach the second week for the first time]. I didn’t play a grass tournament before Wimbledon, so I was a bit out of rhythm and without any matches on grass,” Garin said.
He is the first Chilean to reach the fourth round at The Championships since Fernando Gonzalez reached the quarterfinals in 2005. “My last match [on this surface] was here at Wimbledon in 2019. I didn’t expect to play the way that I’m playing, super solid and serving well, playing almost every game pretty solid. I’m so happy to be in the second week,” Garin added.
Andrey Rublev was stretched to the limits on Friday at The Championships, but he joined fellow Russian Karen Khachanov in the fourth round with a hard-fought win. The 23-year-old overcame Fabio Fognini 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 in just under three hours. The fifth seed will next play either ninth-seeded Diego Schwartzman or Marton Fucsovics of Hungary on Monday.
Russian players’ memorable tournament could reach a piece of milestone on Saturday if Daniil Medvedev beats 2017 finalist Marin Cilic. It will be the first time in the Open Era that three Russian have advanced to the round-of-16 at the All England Club.
Earlier, it was a neck-to-neck battle. Rublev saved four break points across two service games and Fognini saved five break points at 2-3 in the first set before the Russian gained a 5-3 advantage. Rublev closed down the set before carrying that momentum into the second set, taking a 4-2 lead. The Italian recovered to win three straight games and initially missed out on a set point at 5-4. However, he eventually clinched the set to make it all square on the scoreboard.
Rublev regrouped and came back impressively in the next two sets to win the match and advance to the fourth round. Earlier, Rublev’s compatriot, Khachanov eased past Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 over one hour and 46 minutes.