Novak Djokovic continued his quest for a fourth successive Wimbledon crown with a ruthless victory over fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic, sailing through to the last 16 with a 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 win.
It was a bruising afternoon on Centre Court for Kecmanovic, who is no stranger to Djokovic, with the duo having trained together in their homeland, although the youngster had no luck in cracking his compatriot’s imperious service game and was bagelled in the opening 24 minutes.
“I know Kecmanovic’s game pretty well,” said Djokovic, who earned his 24th consecutive grass-court win to equal Rod Laver’s streak in third place on the Open Era list. “We train a lot. We never faced each other on grass. Obviously it’s not his preferred surface for his game. I had the right game plan and I knew what I needed to do.”
It wasn’t that Kecmanovic played badly – his fellow countryman was simply too good. The 22-year-old displayed more resolve as the match wore on, showing glimpses of a player who has reached the quarter-finals at Indian Wells and Miami this year, as well as the fourth round of the Australian Open.
With a 13-year age gap between the two Serbs, there was a yawning gulf in class which Kecmanovic, for all the positive energy he displayed during a spirited second set, never looked like bridging.
After one hour and 41 minutes on court, the fortunes finally turned for Kecmanovic as he capitalised on a rare ragged service game from the 20-time major winner to earn a break of his own and receive the biggest cheer of the afternoon.
Djokovic and Miomir Kecmanovic embrace at the net CREDIT: AFP
But Djokovic duly closed out his 330th Grand Slam match in style to set up a round four clash with Dutch wildcard Tim van Rijthoven, who has enjoyed a meteoric rise on the grass court scene having been ranked outside the top 200 three weeks ago. He has also become an unlikely Wimbledon favourite, with a familiar cry of ‘Come on Tim’ reverberating around Court 12.
“Generally on the grass-court season he still hasn’t lost a match,” said Djokovic. “It’s quite impressive for somebody that hasn’t been ranked that high, hasn’t won an ATP match before. I’ve watched him play these last few weeks. I’ll do my analysis of him, and hopefully I can start off the way I did in these last few”.