repeat of the last Wimbledon men’s final remains on the cards after Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were both comfortable winners on Manic Monday.
Federer had warned he was just getting in the grove at SW19 at the start of the second week and he hardly needed to get into top gear in a 7-5 6-4 6-2 win against Lorenzo Sonego, who had dropped just one set in his previous three matches and had been one of the form players on grass.
In winning, it made him the oldest man into Wimbledon’s quarter-finals in the Open era at the age of 39.
In matching headbands, it was hard to separate the pair on court until Sonego faced a break point at 6-5 on his serve, the rain came down and play was paused to close the Centre Court roof. When play resumed, the Italian double faulted and was never really in the hunt again.
In the aftermath of his 118th Wimbledon win, Federer said: “I’m extremely happy. Again tricky conditions inside and outside against Lorenzo who is always dangerous. I felt after the first set I was able to control things.”
Djokovic reeled off the opening two games with barely an objection from his Chilean opponent, a clay-court specialist for whom the draw had been relatively kind until the opening match of Manic Monday on Centre Court.
Garin posed a fightback of sorts in a tight second set but the writing seemed to be on the wall from those first eight points in an eventual 6-2 6-4 6-2 scoreline.
The nerves appeared to play a part in the former junior French Open champion’s early demise, Djokovic virtually suffocating him in anything he attempted on a surface where the Serbian has won six titles.
It marked his 55th Grand Slam fourth round – he has lost just five of those in his career, one of which came when he hit a line judge with a ball as his volatility boiled over at the 2020 US Open.
There is talk of who could challenge Djokovic for the title from Roger Federer to Matteo Berrettini but, as it stands, another disqualification is potentially all that stands between him and another Wimbledon championship.
“I wish to think it’s a second home for me – it’s probably the most sacred court we have in this sport,” said Djokovic, who is bidding for a hat-trick of Wimbledon titles. “Coming onto this court gives you more goosebumps than any other court in the world.
“My confidence level is very very high after winning the French Open. That was one of the biggest wins under those circumstances. It took a lot out of me but it gave me wings – the confidence boost I needed for Wimbledon. Energy levels are good – I’m pleased.”
It edged Djokovic ever closer to becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the first three Grand Slam tournaments of a given season. Back then, Laver managed to complete the clean sweep of slams, something that looks entirely plausible with Wimbledon and the US Open to follow next month.
There were increased numbers on Centre Court in the latest part of the Government’s event research programme, the show court at 75 per cent capacity to watch a player who looks likely to go on to become the most successful in the history of the sport.
And to start with Garin looked as much in awe as the spectators, losing his opening service game and having no answer for a set which was over within 25 minutes. He matched Djokovic for service games in the second until Garin once again tightened to lose the ninth game of that set. Djokovic served out the set, the subsequent set even more one-sided.
Elsewhere, Sebastian Korda could not quite make it a 21st year to remember as he lost an epic encounter 10-8 in the final set to Karen Khachanov, the pair exchanging 13 breaks of serve in a bizarre final set.
And Andy Murray’s vanquisher in the previous round, Denis Shapovalov, showed he remains a big threat in the tournament with a straight-sets victory over Robert Bautista Agut. The Canadian now takes on Khachanov.
In the women’s draw, No1 seed Ash Barty was a 7-5 6-3 winner over French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova while the player she replaced as Roland Garros champion, Iga Swiatek, was undone 5-7 6-1 6-1 by Ons Jabeur.
The only former Wimbledon champion left in the draw, Angelique Kerber, struggled early on with the windy conditions on serve before coming through in a 6-4 6-4 win over 17-year-old Coco Gauff.
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