Confident Djokovic Hitting Top Form At Wimbledon
Serbian will face Nishikori in Wednesday's quarter-finals
At the business end of The Championships, Novak Djokovic is growing in confidence at just the right time. The Serbian was quick to move up the court and struck 29 winners on Monday as he continued to dream of a fourth trophy at the All England Club.
The former World No. 1, winner in 2011 and 2014-15 at Wimbledon, has shown flashes of a return to peak form in recent weeks and on Monday he played with great discipline to overcome the power of Russia’s Karen Khachanov 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 for a place in the quarter-finals.
"I'm really happy with the way I played tonight. I managed to win in straight sets against a player in form. I was really pleased with my second and third set. Really, really pleased," Djokovic said. "I made him play a lot. I served accurately, picking my spots, not really forcing the serve too much, trying to get easier first shots in the rally. Just overall, I felt good in these difficult conditions."
Djokovic recorded his 248th match win at Grand Slam championship just as daylight faded on No. 1 Court and will now prepare to challenge Japanese No. 24 seed Kei Nishikori, who beat Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis. Djokovic leads Nishikori 13-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, but the pair has not met on grass.
"I like my chances in the match against Nishikori. I played very well at Queen's coming into Wimbledon. So far, four matches have been really, really good for me. I haven't spent too much time on the court. I feel physically, mentally ready, fit, positive," Djokovic said. "Now the matches are only going to get tougher. I've been in this position and situation before many times. I don't want to look ahead too much. I'm just focusing on Nishikori for now."
The No. 12 seed committed just 12 unforced errors against Khachanov, showcasing his great retrieval skills for his 22nd victory of the year in one hour and 46 minutes. Broken once at 4-2 in the first set, Djokovic bounced back immediately and tightened up his game in the pair's first meeting.
Two weeks ago, 31-year-old Djokovic finished runner-up to Marin Cilic at the Fever-Tree Championships, which was his first ATP World Tour final since capturing the Nature Valley International crown in June 2017.
Khachanov came out firing by putting Djokovic under immediate pressure, but it was the experienced Serbian who gained the first break in the second game. Although Khachanov recovered to 3-4, in a game of four errors for Djokovic, the 22-year-old was unable to dominate and paid the price in hitting three straight groundstroke errors at 4-5.
Djokovic won 12 of the first 15 points in the second set, building up his service fluency and taking control of the shorter points. At 2-5, 30/40, Khachanov slipped when playing a forehand and Djokovic struck a forehand into space. The former champion lost just four of his service points in the third set, breaking serve in the sixth and eighth games.
The 22-year-old Khachanov had been bidding to become the fifth Russian man to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals. He is now 23-14 on the season.
"Honestly, he was too good today. Too good," Khachanov admitted. "He had an answer for everything I did. Okay, of course I could maybe do some things better, like serve, for example. But I don't know, he was returning everything. I felt like the ball was always coming back."