Men’s Day 5: Djokovic, Alcaraz remain on Wimbledon collision course

London, Jul 1 (EFE).- Top-seeded Serbian Novak Djokovic and electrifying Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz both notched easy victories in third-round action Friday at Wimbledon, moving one match closer to a potential blockbuster quarterfinal showdown.

Djokovic charged out of the gates on Centre Court against countryman Miomir Kecmanovic and was never threatened in a 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 victory in just under two hours.

The Serbian six-time champion at the All England Club was virtually unplayable when putting his first serve in play, winning 88 percent of those points for the match.

But he also imposed his stellar return game as well, breaking Kecmanovic six times and winning nearly half of his opponent’s overall serve points.

With the victory, the 35-year-old Djokovic now has won 24 consecutive matches at the All England Club dating back to 2018, his last loss coming in 2017 when he was forced to retire with a serious elbow injury.

“I’m very proud of my consistency at this level. This week I’ve been playing better as the tournament progresses, which is what you always wish for as a player,” the winner of 20 Grand Slam men’s singles titles, tied for second-most all-time, said afterward.

“But I can always do better and I always expect the best from myself.”

Next up for Djokovic in Sunday round-of-16 action will be 25-year-old Dutch wildcard Tim van Rijthoven, who began the year ranked No. 261 but has moved up to No. 104 thanks largely to a stunning title run last month at the ‘s-Hertogenbosch event.

In that Wimbledon tune-up event in the Netherlands, Van Rijthoven defeated ninth-ranked Felix Auger-Aliassime in the semifinals and Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, the current world No. 1, in the championship match.

He continued his torrid run of form in third-round action on Friday by defeating Georgian world No. 26 Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

On the No. 1 Court, the fifth-seeded Alcaraz appeared set for a tricky third-round match against a German opponent, 36th-ranked Oscar Otte, who reached two semifinals at Wimbledon tune-up events last month in Stuttgart and Halle.

But Otte was outclassed from start to finish by his 19-year-old Spanish opponent, who struck 37 winners and committed just eight unforced errors in wrapping up the 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 victory in just one hour and 38 minutes.

While Alcaraz’s ground strokes and passing shots were lethal as always, he also showcased the strong serving and outstanding net play (83 percent success rate) that make him a veritable title contender this fortnight.

“That was probably the best match I have played on grass,” he said afterward. “Wimbledon gives you a special energy and I’m trying to get better in every match.”

The Spaniard will next square off against another rising young star, 20-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner, the No. 10 seed, who notched a surprisingly straight-forward 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 victory over big-serving American John Isner.

While Djokovic and Alcaraz lend major star power to the top quarter of the Wimbledon draw, the second quarter is filled with lesser stars who now have a golden opportunity to reach their first career Grand Slam semifinal after scoring victories on Friday.

That quartet includes the American duo of 23rd-seeded Frances Tiafoe and 30th-seeded Tommy Paul, who will take on Belgium’s David Goffin and ninth-seeded Briton Cameron Norrie, respectively, in fourth-round action on Sunday. EFE


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