London, Jun 29 (EFE).- Six-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic further cemented his status as tournament favorite with a dominant display Wednesday on Centre Court, while fast-rising Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz looked comfortable on the grass in a straight-set victory of his own.
The top-seeded Serbian, winner of the last three editions of tennis’ most prestigious event (2018, 2019 and 2021), was nearly impeccable on serve and relentless in his return game in a lopsided 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis.
After dropping a set in his first-round match on Monday against South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon and lacking overall sharpness, the 20-time major champion showed championship form from the outset against the 79th-ranked Kokkinakis.
Djokovic broke his opponent’s serve in the second game en route to taking the first set comfortably and continued to apply pressure with his return game the entire match, winning an impressive 45 percent of the Australian’s service points.
“I’m very happy with my performance today,” the 35-year-old Serbian great said on court after his victory. “I thought I started off very well, very solid from the back of the court, made him work for every point that I managed to get his serve back in play. I tried to work him around the court, bring a lot of variety in the game.”
Next up for Djokovic on Friday will be countryman Miomir Kecmanovic, the No. 25 seed.
In other action Wednesday, the 19-year-old Alcaraz, arguably tennis’ brightest young star, avoided getting drawn into a fifth-set marathon like he did in his first-round victory over Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.
Alcaraz showed his all-court game in the first set against Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor, saving a break point at 1-2, 30-40 with a volley winner and then earning an important early service break and a 5-4 lead with a delicate drop-volley winner.
The Spaniard also came up with big first serves when he needed them, including an ace to clinch the opening set and another to put the finishing touches on a lopsided second-set tiebreaker.
In the third set, Alcaraz earned an early break of serve and then held the rest of the way for a straight-forward 6-4, 7-6 (7-0), 6-3 victory and a berth in the third round of Wimbledon for the first time in his young career.
The Spaniard will next square off against 32nd-seeded German Oscar Otte, a strong grass-court player who reached the semifinals of a pair of tune-up events for this year’s Wimbledon.
The biggest match of the day for the British fans was two-time champion Andy Murray’s Centre Court contest against American John Isner, whose massive serve carried him to a 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (3-7), 6-4 victory.
Murray found himself down two sets to love in large part due to sub-par serving early on.
But after the Scotsman rallied to take the third set, Isner broke serve in the fifth game of the fourth set and then repeatedly came up with big serves down the stretch to clinch the victory.
“To play as well as I did against one of our greatest players, Andy Murray, was a huge accomplishment for me. He’s a massive inspiration to each one of us in the locker room and we’re so lucky to still have him around,” the American said, referring to the 35-year-old Murray’s multiple hip surgeries in recent years.
In other action on Wednesday, Norwegian No. 3 seed Casper Ruud became the highest ranked men’s player to exit this year’s Wimbledon when he fell to France’s Ugo Humbert 3-6, 6-2, 7-5, 6-4.
The result was only a mild upset considering that Ruud’s game is more suited to clay and slow hard courts than grass. EFE