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Djokovic extends Wimbledon streak: “The quality of tennis was really high”

  • Matt Trollope

Now unbeaten in 23 matches at the All England Club, Novak Djokovic elevated his level on Wednesday to take another step closer to a seventh Wimbledon title.

The No.1 seed charged to a 6-1 6-4 6-2 win over powerful Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis to reach the third round, where he will face fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic. 

Kecmanovic faces an intimidating experience if he encounters Djokovic in a similarly-ruthless mode.

Kokkinakis was slightly shell-shocked after his Centre Court debut came to an end in exactly two hours.

“Got chopped today,” Kokkinakis conceded.

“If that's not his top intensity, I'm going to get chopped even more next time.

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“I felt if I wasn't landing my first (serve) within sort of an inch of the line … he was middling (the return) and putting it back on my toes.

“He's a wall. That's what it felt like. It felt like he just did everything right. He just made things uncomfortable. Tactically he was on point against me. He was rushing me.

“It was pretty one-way traffic. It was frustrating.”

Kokkinakis was asked if he could see anyone stopping Djokovic from claiming a fourth straight Wimbledon title. 

“Hopefully not if he plays like that,” the Aussie replied. “Because if someone beats him when he's playing like that it means I'm even further off than I thought.”

Thanasi Kokkinakis (R) congratulates Novak Djokovic after the No.1 seed won their second-round match at Wimbledon. (Getty Images)

When Kokkinakis said Djokovic did everything right, he was right.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion had nearly twice the winners to unforced errors (29-14), served immaculately – he landed 71 per cent of first serves and won 82 per cent of those points – and was successful in 30 of 38 trips to the net.

The quality of his returns meant he generated 13 break points – Kokkinakis only earned one – and limited Kokkinakis’ second-serve win rate to 33 per cent.

“I think the quality of tennis was really high from my side. Much better than the first match performance,” said Djokovic, who struggled to a four-set win over Soon Woo Kwon in the opening match of the tournament on Centre Court.

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“I knew that I had to start off well today because I was facing a really tricky opponent, someone that serves well, has big serve, big forehand. 

“I didn't want to give him too much time. I played with not too many unforced errors from back of the court. Whenever I needed to put the return in, I did. 

“All in all just a really, really satisfying performance.”

Djokovic’s last loss in a completed match at Wimbledon came six years ago, when he fell in the third round of the 2016 Championships to Sam Querrey.

His last loss of any kind came in 2017, when injury forced him to retire from his quarterfinal against Tomas Berdych.

Since then, Djokovic has won titles at the All England Club in 2018, 2019 and 2021, and triumphed at the tournament six of the past 10 times he has competed there.

We go back to the reporter’s question – who can stop him?

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Two of the highest seeds in his half – No.3 Casper Ruud and No.7 Hubert Hurkacz – have already been eliminated.

In his quarter are young guns Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner, seeded fifth and 10th respectively, yet both are extremely inexperienced on grass.

Ninth seed Cameron Norrie is also in the top half, but has never gone beyond the third round of a major.

Elsewhere, wildcard Tim Van Rijthoven is on a seven-match grass-court winning streak and could meet Djokovic in the last 16. 

Big servers like John Isner and Oscar Otte lurk, as do dangerous shot-makers like Nikoloz Basilashvili, Frances Tiafoe and Alexander Bublik. 

Jiri Vesely is a combination of both and owns a 2-0 winning head-to-head record against Djokovic – but the Czech would need to win three more matches before even thinking about a career-first major semifinal against the top seed.

Of course, Djokovic is not assured of getting that far either, and still has a lot of winning to do before arriving at the pointy end of the tournament.

He was therefore only focused on his match with countryman Kecmanovic, the winner of which would seal a spot in the second week.

“I’m quite pleased with the way I’ve raised the level of tennis in two days. Hopefully I can keep that trajectory just getting better as the tournament progresses,” Djokovic said on court.

“Obviously just thinking about the next challenge and hopefully things will get better and better as I move on.”