Djokovic survives hurricane Hurkacz to reach last 16

Saturday, 2019-07-06 05:41:35
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Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 5, 2019 Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his third round match against Poland's Hubert Hurkacz. (Reuters)
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When Novak Djokovic stood with hand on hip midway through the second-set tiebreak, glaring down at young Polish upstart Hubert Hurkacz, he could scarcely believe the drama unfolding before his eyes in his third-round Wimbledon showdown on Friday (Jul 5).

The world number one was caught up by hurricane Hurkacz as he came off second best in all the razzle-dazzle shots the 22-year-old could throw at him and he was also banned from wearing his baseball cap by the umpire as it fell foul of Wimbledon's all-white rules.

However, Djokovic is not known as Mr Consistency for nothing and he survived all the hullabaloo to reach the last 16 for the 12th time at the grasscourt major with a 7-5 6-7(5) 6-1 6-4 win.

That efficiency has earned Djokovic 74 titles, including 15 majors, and more than US$130 million in prize money.

Hurkacz, on the other hand, can only dream of such riches or records as his trophy cabinet lies empty while his bank balance would be considered loose change in Djokovic's pocket.

After dropping his first set at this year's championships, the Serb will be looking to do better when he meets France's Ugo Humbert on Monday. Frenchman Humbert, ranked 66th in the world, brushed aside the 18-year-old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4 7-5 6-3.

Fifteen-year-old Cori Gauff clawed her way back from a set and 5-2 down and saved two match points to beat Slovenia's Polona Hercog 3-6 7-6(7) 7-5 on Friday and reach the Wimbledon fourth round.

Gauff is the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon in the Open era and the youngest to reach the fourth round since American Jennifer Capriati, also aged 15, in 1991.

She has set up a last-16 clash with seventh seed Simona Halep, who swatted aside Victoria Azarenka 6-3 6-1.

China's Zhang Shuai made the Wimbledon fourth round for the first time on Friday, coming back from 0-4 down in the opening set to beat former world number one Caroline Wozniacki.

Zhang, the world number 60, is the first Chinese woman since Peng Shuai in 2015 to reach the second week at the All England Club thanks to her 6-4, 6-2 win over the 14th seeded Dane.

Former world number one Karolina Pliskova served superbly to beat Hsieh Su-Wei 6-3 2-6 6-4 and reach the Wimbledon fourth round for the second time.

Czech third seed Pliskova fired down 14 aces on Court One to counter the unorthodox Hsieh's fast feet and soft hands, securing victory in an hour and 46 minutes.

Up next for Pliskova is Czech compatriot Karolina Muchova who beat 20th seed Anett Kontaveit 7-6(7) 6-3.

Reuters