Djokovic advances as other top contenders fall
- John Matiesen
Defending champion Novak Djokovic dropped his first set of the tournament Friday but had few problems after that, advancing to the fourth round at Wimbledon with a 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4 win over Hubert Hurkacz.
Hurkacz had never even reached the third round of a Grand Slam tournament before, but he matched Djokovic shot by shot during a tense second set that featured mesmerizing rallies and spectacular winners from both players.
But the unseeded Polish player couldn't keep up, and Djokovic won the third set in only 25 minutes. He then broke for a 2-1 lead in the fourth and sealed the victory with a service winner on his first match point.
Djokovic, who is looking for his fifth Wimbledon title, also saw his path to the final become a little easier as other top contenders fell.
Earlier in the day, No. 4 Kevin Anderson and No. 10 Karen Khachanov lost, leaving no other top-10 players besides Djokovic in the top half of the draw.
No. 11 Daniil Medvedev is the highest-ranked man in Djokovic's way to the final. They could meet in the quarterfinals.
Anderson, a Wimbledon finalist in 2018, was eliminated with a 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (4) loss to No. 26 Guido Pella, who reached the fourth round at the All England Club for the first time.
Pella's win was punctuated in the third-set tiebreaker by a back-and-forth volley at the net, which Pella won for a 6-4 edge. He would serve out the victory on the following point.
"He made life really difficult for me, I felt. He moves really, really well," said Anderson, who is 6-foot-8 and has one of the best serves on tour. "I felt I had a pretty hard time keeping him on defense, finishing out the points. When I was able to do that, I had the most success.
"I could have probably served a little bit better."
Anderson converted only one of his nine break points.
It's the second year in a row that Pella knocked out the previous runner-up. He came from two sets down to beat Marin Cilic in 2018.
Khachanov fell to Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-1.
Fernando Verdasco also advanced, beating Thomas Fabbiano 6-4, 7-6 (1), 6-4.
Former finalist Milos Raonic ended Reilly Opelka's run by beating the towering American in straight sets.
In a matchup of big servers, Raonic broke twice in each of the final two sets to win 7-6 (1), 6-2, 6-1 and reach the fourth round for the fifth time. Both players finished with 13 aces each but Raonic had only seven unforced errors to Opelka's 31.
The 6-foot-11 Opelka was making his Wimbledon debut and knocked out three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in the second round.
Raonic lost to Andy Murray in the 2016 Wimbledon final.