Djokovic beats Wawrinka just before closing time

LONDON : Stan Wawrinka said he stood no chance of beating Novak Djokovic in their Wimbledon third-round clash on Friday and the Swiss’s prediction proved spot on as he was outplayed on Centre Court.

Walking out little more than two hours before Wimbledon’s 11pm curfew, seven-time champion Djokovic was a man in a hurry as he rattled through the opening two sets and although he met more resistance after that he sealed a 6-3 6-1 7-6(5) win.

His 31st consecutive match win at Wimbledon sent him into the last 16 of a Grand Slam for the 61st time in which he will face Poland’s 17th seed Hubert Hurkacz.

Three-time Grand Slam champion Wawrinka, two years older than Djokovic at 38, was reduced to the roll of spectator at times as his opponent’s laser-guided ground strokes located lines with relentless accuracy in their first meeting on grass.

The opening four games were shared, offering the fans hope that a heavyweight battle might develop between two players who were meeting for the ninth time in Grand Slams, two of which were finals in which Wawrinka triumphed.

But Wawrinka was then left feeding on crumbs as Djokovic turned the screw to produce the ruthless tennis that makes scary viewing for anyone hoping to stall his bid to equal Margaret Court’s 24 Grand Slams and Roger Federer’s eight Wimbledon crowns.

With the Centre Court roof closed and the lights on, Djokovic took the second set in half an hour.

Wawrinka did not go out with a whimper and, with the crowd in his corner, he cranked up his power in the third set and finally began to punch a few holes in Djokovic’s armour.

With the clock ticking towards cut-off point, the same one that had snagged Andy Murray’s charge against Stefanos Tsitsipas the previous evening, Djokovic finally looked less invincible and was pushed into a tiebreak when he sliced a backhand volley wide.

Wawrinka led 5-3 in the breaker with closing time looming but Djokovic hit back to earn himself Saturday off.

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