Djokovic Tested, Completes Win Over Hurkacz To Reach Wimbledon QFs
After winning the first two sets on Sunday evening, the seven-time champion returned to Centre Court 16 hours later and dropped the third set before sealing a 7-6(6), 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-4 victory over Hubert Hurkacz.
“Big credit to Hubert for playing an amazing match, tough luck for him today,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “But he put up a great performance. Honestly, I don't recall the last time I felt this miserable in returning games to be honest, due to his incredibly accurate and powerful serve.”
Across two days of action, Hurkacz’s serve stymied Djokovic, widely considered one of the best returners in history. The 17th seed did not lose serve in the match — or the tournament — until 3-3 in the fourth set. But Djokovic eventually broke through to move on after three hours and six minutes.
“He’s got one of the best serves in the world and it's so difficult to read it. Playing obviously on the quickest surface in [the] sport, grass court, it really favours big servers. So it was not really [an] enjoyable match for me, I must say,” Djokovic said. “But I guess in the important moments, yesterday last night, I was fortunate really, to win that first set. I was 3/6 down in the tie-break. This match definitely could have gone a different way. But I guess I held my nerves when it mattered and I'm happy to win.”
The match could have been a lot more stressful than a four-set triumph for the 23-time major winner, who has now won 32 consecutive tour-level matches on grass. Djokovic saved three set points in the first-set tie-break and rallied from a late mini-break down in the second-set tie-break.
Tournament referee Gerry Armstrong suspended play Sunday evening after the end of the second set, at 10:35 p.m. local time, given it was very unlikely the match would be played to a conclusion before the 11 p.m. curfew. When the action resumed, it was Hurkacz who played the more relaxed tennis, which helped him win the third set. His 33 aces proved menacing for the Serbian.
But Djokovic survived and will next play seventh seed Andrey Rublev, who defeated Alexander Bublik in five sets on Sunday. The 23-time major winner leads the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series 3-1, with Rublev winning on clay in last year’s Belgrade final.