Djokovic survives Stepanek scare

 

Novak Djokovic staved off the threat of another shock at Wimbledon when he came from a set down to beat Radek Stepanek.

The top seed saw his 33-year-old Czech opponent snatch the first set against the run of play before he blasted him aside to win 4-6 6-2 6-2 6-2 and book a clash against fellow Serbian Viktor Troicki in the fourth round.

Just as the final set was in Rafael Nadal's late-night exit to Lukas Rosol, today's opening match was also played under the closed roof on Centre Court after lunchtime drizzle.

It proved a tough test for the defending champion, who had a straight-sets win over American Ryan Harrison in the second round.

Before a ball was served, Stepanek was made to change his red trainers as they did not comply with the all-white dress code.

Djokovic put pressure on his opponent's serve immediately with his strong return game but Stepanek held on to avoid an early break.

The Czech was struggling but managed to save three break points to hold serve in the fifth game.

It was a tale of two service games, with the 28th seed clinging on while Djokovic cruised through his and toyed with his opponent from the baseline.

However, out of the blue a shift in momentum saw Stepanek with three set points as the world number one's serve faltered for the first time, the Czech converting as Djokovic fired wide.

From then on, however, the title favourite showed his class, securing an instant break in the second set before stealing another to make it 6-2, before claiming the third set in equally quick time.

Set four was wrapped up in style as Stepanek wilted, his tactic of charging to the net proving fruitless as a ruthless Djokovic ended his tournament with a curving backhand.

Following the win, Djokovic denied thoughts of second seed Nadal crashing out of the tournament entered his mind after losing the first set.

The 25-year-old said: "It was a tough match but I think I played the second, third and fourth sets really well.

"I was focusing on my opponent today. I know he is very tricky player, very talented and he's one of the few players that comes to the net after every first serve.

"He has a lot of variety in his game and can hurt anybody but I love playing under the roof."

PA

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