Wimbledon 2013: Novak Djokovic's bid to make final looks far tougher than previously thought



When the draw for Wimbledon was made a week ago, the common consensus was that the biggest winner was Novak Djokovic. While Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer would have to fight it out in the other half of the draw, the highest-ranked player in the 26-year-old Serb's section was David Ferrer, who has just one quarter-final appearance to show from 10 visits here.

The likes of Juan Martin del Potro, Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic were potential threats, but the luck of the draw had clearly favoured the world No 1.

What a difference a week makes. While the mayhem in the bottom half of the draw has left Murray as the only top 15 player left in his section, there are still six standing in Djokovic's.

A routine 7-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over the American Bobby Reynolds, the world No 156, sent Djokovic into a third-round meeting with either France's Jérémy Chardy, the world No 25, or Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff, the world No 115. Bigger challenges will lie ahead if the Australian Open champion keeps on winning. Djokovic could face Tommy Haas in the fourth round, Berdych in the last eight and Ferrer in the semi-finals.

After the pain of losing to Nadal in the semi-finals of the French Open, which had been his major target for this year, Djokovic is bristling with ambition here. He has got off to the perfect start with two straight-sets victories. The last time he failed to reach the third round of any Grand Slam tournament was in 2008, when he lost to Marat Safin in the second round here.

Djokovic, who is the only former Wimbledon champion left in the draw following the exits of Federer, Nadal and Lleyton Hewitt, was not at his best under the Centre Court roof as rain curtailed play on all the other courts, but there is plenty of time for improvement.

This is the third year in a row that Djokovic has not played a grass-court tournament in the build-up to Wimbledon – it did not stop him winning the title two years ago – and it is no surprise that he is taking time to break in his grass-court shoes.

Reynolds, in truth, was never likely to provide much more than hitting practice. When he beat Steve Johnson in five sets in the first round it was his first victory at a Grand Slam event for five years.

The 30-year-old American has reached the third round of Grand Slam events only twice in his career – at the Australian Open in 2005 and here in 2008 – and earned his place this week through the qualifying tournament. He has never gone higher than No 63 in the world rankings and spends most of his time these days playing on the Challenger circuit.

The American, nevertheless, held his own in a tight first set as Djokovic struggled to cope with the slower conditions under the roof. On his Centre Court debut Reynolds chased everything and regularly had Djokovic at full stretch. The Serb forced four break points in the opening set but was unable to convert any of them. He quickly took charge of the tie-break, however, comfortably prevailing 7-2 after winning the first five points and then finishing off emphatically with an ace.

Reynolds, who did not have a single break point in the match, saw a glimmer of light when he had Djokovic at 0-30 on the Serb's serve in the second game of the second set, but the American hit a smash long on the next point and his chance was gone. Djokovic, who took only four of his 18 break points in the match, finally broke for the first time in the next game and had little trouble from that moment on.

"I tried to focus on my game and do everything I had planned with my coach tactically," he said afterwards. "I think my game is there. I just need to try to capitalise on my opportunities. Today I was very poor on the break points."

Djokovic added that the events of this week had shown the importance of not looking beyond your next match. "I think the fact that top players lost in the last few days gives enough reason for all of us to not underestimate any opponent," he said.

"Everybody, especially lower-ranked players in the opening rounds, have nothing to lose when they go on the centre stage and come up with their best game."

The Serb agreed it had been unusual to see so many surprising results and retirements but added: "Grass is a very special surface. It requires a different kind of movement. It's a big effort, especially for tall guys like [John] Isner and [Marin] Cilic. I understand they retired because of their knees.

"If the grass at the beginning of Wimbledon is still not so worn and a little bit slippery, it can be dangerous until you really get your right footing on the court. That's probably the reason why they all felt uncomfortable and they all injured themselves unfortunately."

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam