LONDON: Defending champion Novak Djokovic survived a barrage from big-hitting Kevin Anderson to reach his seventh successive Wimbledon quarter-final on Tuesday.
The top seed came from behind to win 6-7 (6/8), 6-7 (6/8), 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 in a last-16 tie suspended due to bad light on Monday at the end of the fourth set.
The Serb, who has now reached 25 Grand Slam quarter-finals in a row, goes on to face Croatia’s US Open champion Marin Cilic for a place in the semi-finals.
Djokovic will be the overwhelming favourite for that match on Wednesday — he leads their head-to-head 12-0.
Anderson, the South African 14th seed, fired 40 aces and 71 winners but committed 41 unforced errors.
“I think Kevin served exceptionally well,” said Djokovic. “I found it one of the most difficult matches I’ve played in my Wimbledon career. At times I was really helpless with my returns. He was very aggressive.”
The Serb added, “I thought it was high-quality tennis in the fifth set. I was two sets down. To come back and win in five gives me great satisfaction and confidence for the next challenge.”
After their match was suspended due to fading light on Monday, it was the 29-year-old Anderson who was the more aggressive first up on Tuesday.
Under damp, overcast skies on Court One, Djokovic had to save two break points in the fourth game.
But Anderson eventually paid a heavy price for his all-or-nothing approach as he tried to break through into a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time in 26 attempts.
He served up two double faults to go match points down in the 12th game and Djokovic secured victory when the South African bungled a volley off a blistering service return by the top seed.
Hewitt’s Wimbledon career ends
Lleyton Hewitt, the 2002 champion, finally said farewell to Wimbledon late Monday as he bowed out of the men’s and mixed doubles.
Playing as a wildcard, the 34-year-old Australian was playing one last Wimbledon before he retires after the next Australian Open in January.
He was beaten by fellow veteran Jarkko Nieminen last Monday in the singles first round, meaning he missed out on a Centre Court swansong against defending champion Novak Djokovic.
But he battled on in the men’s doubles with Australian youngster Thanasi Kokkinakis, and in the mixed doubles with compatriot Casey Dellacqua, again playing on wildcards.
However, his run in both came to an end within a matter of hours on Monday.
Firstly he and Kokkinakis lost to fourth seeds Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands and Horia Tecau of Romania 7-6 (9/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/1) in a third round match out on the humdrum Court 17.
Then his Wimbledon career finally came to an end with a 0-6, 6-3, 6-3 defeat with Dellacqua to ninth seeds Juan-Sebastian Cabal of Colombia and Zimbabwe’s Cara Black in the mixed second round on the Court 18 show court.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2015.
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