World No.1 Novak Djokovic inches closer to winning his 3rd Wimbledon title in a row as he blasted past American qualifier Denis Kudla in the third round. Playing on Court No.1, Djokovic stopped the late surge from Kudla to win the match in straight sets 6-4,6-3,7-6(7).
Kudla, who has been as high as 53 in the world, was playing some of the best tennis of his life and pushing Djokovic to the limit. He started the first set on a bang and dropped just 2 points in his first 3 service games. Djokovic to manages to hold serve and took a 5-4 lead. A bit of pressure in his 5th service game cost Kudla as he got broken and lost the opening set 4-6.
Djokovic came with an intent in the second set. He covered the court beautifully and didn’t give Kudla any pace from the baseline. He was frustrating the American with his backhand slices and got the early break. The crowd were heavily on Kudla, the underdog’s side which frustrated Djokovic even more. He silenced everyone by taking the second set 6-3 in style.
Kudla probably played the best set of his life in the third set of the match. He was tasking calculated risks and hitting baseline winners on the open court. He broke Djokovic’s serve upfront and took a 3-0 lead. He kept the lead for a couple more games before the top seed striked back. Both the players were pushing each other and the match went into a tie-breaker.
Djokovic had a miserable start to the tie-breaker and was 1-4 down, courtesy 2 double faults. But the champion mentality kicked in the right time as he bounced back and drew level. Despite saving 3-match points and having a set point for himself, Kudla couldn’t manage to hold his nerves and lost the set.
‘I spent a lot of time in the mountains with the wolves, this is my wolf energy’: Novak Djokovic
In the on court interview, Djokovic was asked whether Never giving up is his trademark quality to which he said: “It should be the trademark of every professional athlete. Giving up is never a question.”
“You always try to give your best and maximum out there particularly when you’re playing one of the biggest tennis tournaments in the world. Atleast for me it is the biggest because I’ve always dreamt of winning Wimbledon when I was a kid.”
He also praised Kudla. “I have to give credit to Denis[Kudla] for playing really well. From the beginning, third set, it was very close. He’s a great guy on and off the court. We get along really well and I wish him the very best. He’s played three great sets today, was a bit unlucky in the tie-breaker of the third. He was in front for most of the tie-breaker but I managed to win.”
Djokovic was then asked from where does he get the hunger to be the best and want more. He said: “I think a part of it is genes, my family, the way I have grown up during difficult times during 90s for my country. Failure was never an option for me or anyone in my family. We needed to find the basic needs to survive. That’s strengthened my character. Part of it also comes from my upbringing in the mountains. I spent a lot of time in the mountains with the wolves, this is my wolf energy. I’m not kidding, actually!”
The top seed will be up against 17th seed Cristian Garin in the Round of 16 on Monday.