Wimbledon: Djokovic hungry like the wolf as Kudla threat is chased off

By Sports Desk July 02, 2021

Novak Djokovic drew on "wolf energy" as he fended off American Denis Kudla to reach the Wimbledon fourth round.

The man with the Golden Slam in his sights took out Kudla in straight sets on Court One, but a 6-4 6-3 7-6 (9-7) victory was not entirely routine.

Qualifier Kudla broke the Serbian's serve twice and kept it a largely tight contest, showing the form that took him to the fourth round six years ago.

After roaring to glory at the Australian Open and French Open, Djokovic could become just the second player in history to win all four grand slams and an Olympic gold medal in the same year, after Steffi Graf's 1988 feat.

There can be no easy sauntering to glory on that scale, so after a pair of relatively easy wins over Jack Draper – albeit after a first-set hiccup – and Kevin Anderson, this was more of a taxing clash that could benefit Djokovic in the long run.

Kudla was gifted a 3-0 lead in the third-set tie-break as Djokovic twice double-faulted, but he could not capitalise, chopping a pair of poor drop shots on the way to allowing his opponent to gain the upper hand.

A solid overhead gave Djokovic a first match point, which the five-time Wimbledon champion squandered with a forehand into the net. He soon had a second though, and Djokovic, defending his 2019 title this fortnight after last year's tournament was cancelled, displayed stunning defence on the baseline before Kudla netted on the forehand.

The world number one then spoke of how growing up during the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s had hardened him for a career in sport, when asked at courtside what gave him such a drive to win.

"I think part of it is genes. My family, the way I've grown up in difficult times during the nineties for my country," Djokovic said on the BBC.

"Failure was never on option, For me or anybody for my family. We had to find a way to find the basic needs for us to survive. During those times it was difficult and that has strengthened my character, I would say.

"Part of it also comes from my upbringing in the mountains. I spent a lot of time in the mountains with wolves, so this is a wolf energy."

 

Data Slam: Shaky serves as Djokovic does enough

Kudla is no stranger to SW19 success, given his 2015 run that was ended by Marin Cilic. And with Djokovic only landing 54 per cent of first serves in court across the contest, that might have opened a door for the American here. Yet Kudla was also struggling with his first delivery, putting just 47 per cent of his first serves into play, and few could hope to beat Djokovic with such a low percentage.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 34/28
Kudla – 30/34

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 8/6
Kudla – 6/3

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 4/10
Kudla – 2/4

Related items

  • Davis Cup: Medvedev and Rublev seal third title for Russian Tennis Federation Davis Cup: Medvedev and Rublev seal third title for Russian Tennis Federation

    The Russian Tennis Federation sealed the 2020-21 Davis Cup after beating Croatia 2-0 in the final in Madrid.

    Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev secured a third title for the RTF following 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 and 6-4 7-6 (7-5) wins over Marin Cilic and Borna Gojo respectively.

    It completed a double for the Russians after Liudmila Samsonova inspired the women's team to glory in the Billie Jean King Cup last month.

    Appearing in their first Davis Cup showpiece since 2007, the RTF had lost only two matches during the finals – one of which coming during Saturday's win over Germany with the outcome already decided.

    Rublev broke in game seven on the way to taking the opening set against Gojo 6-4.

    The world number five was strong on his first serve, winning 36 of 39 points, and drew first blood for his nation after prevailing 9-7 in the second-set tie-break.

    US Open champion Medvedev then took on Cilic, who was attempting to keep Croatia's hopes alive in what was their third final in five years.

    The world number two's strong serve proved the difference during a tight opening set. Indeed, he hit seven aces on the way to edging his nose in front 9-7 on the tie-break.

    Medvedev then broke the world number 30 in game four to take command of the second set.

    And a crucial second break followed at 5-2 up to secure a hat-trick of Davis Cup crowns for his nation, who were also victorious in 2002 and 2006.

  • Nadal expects Djokovic to finish with the most men's grand slam titles Nadal expects Djokovic to finish with the most men's grand slam titles

    Rafael Nadal conceded that Novak Djokovic will likely end his career with the most grand slam singles titles in men's tennis history, ahead of the Spaniard and Roger Federer.

    The so-called 'Big Three' of tennis have long dominated the ATP Tour, with all three sitting on 20 major titles after Djokovic collected three from a possible four in 2021.

    Djokovic, who secured a year-end number one ranking for a record seventh time, would have completed a clean sweep if it were not for Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final.  

    Nadal, by contrast, missed large parts of the season with a foot injury, while Federer was similarly ruled out for a substantial period after requiring a third knee operation in the space of 18 months.

    Nadal could make a return for the Australian Open in January, an event that the world number one may miss due to a vaccine mandate, but he still expects Djokovic to hold the record for major titles when the trio has retired.

    "Djokovic is best positioned to be the [men's] player with the most grand slams," Nadal said to Movistar.

    "You don't have to fool yourself – Federer is where he is and I am where I am. However, Djokovic is playing well and in a good moment.

    "That is the reality, and you can't ignore it. We don't know what is going to happen in nine months' time, but he is the favourite right now."

    Nadal triumphed at Roland Garros in 2020 but has only appeared at two majors since, while Federer – who hopes to return to tour-level action in 2022 – last collected a grand slam title at the Australian Open in 2018.

    Nadal is glad that the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Medvedev, who only dropped one set across the entire tournament as he denied Djokovic the perfect year, are taking over.

    "They are no longer the Next Gen, we do not have to make it eternal," Nadal said of the new 'Big Three' in tennis.

    "Players like Medvedev, Zverev or Tsitsipas have already passed that stage of the Next Gen, they are the current generation, the present."

  • Djokovic supports WTA suspending China events amid Peng Shuai uncertainty Djokovic supports WTA suspending China events amid Peng Shuai uncertainty

    Novak Djokovic has backed the stance of the WTA after it suspended all tournaments in China amid ongoing concerns of the safety and wellbeing of Peng Shuai.

    Peng made sexual assault allegations in early November against Zhang Ghaoli, the ex-vice-premier and member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, and has not been seen in public since.

    She posted the allegations on Chinese social media site Weibo, though her post has since been removed and her whereabouts have been unclear.

    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has held two video calls with Peng, including one on Thursday, but the WTA chairman Steve Simon said neither the first call nor an email allegedly received from the tennis player alleviated concerns.

    The WTA, who run the women's tennis tour, suspended its upcoming tournaments in China on Wednesday amid continuing concerns over Peng's safety and Djokovic agrees with the organisation's stance.

    "I support fully the WTA's stance because we don't have enough information about Peng Shuai and her well-being," the men's world number one told reporters at Thursday's Davis Cup news conference.

    "I think the position of the WTA is very bold and very courageous."

    The IOC said it will hold a "personal meeting" in January with Peng as they released a statement on the same day as the second call to repeat the message of the "quiet diplomacy" route that was being taken with Chinese sport bodies.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.