The men were barely phased on Saturday in the third round at Wimbledon with the big guns in Roger Federer, chasing a record eighth Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic, looking to regain his lost mojo, and Milos Raonic – finalist from last year – all registering convincing and straight sets victories against opponents with different style and pedigree. Federer got the better of Mischa Zverev – a strong serve and volley player – 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 last on Centre Court while Djokovic tarnished hopes of Ernests Gulbis who had registered his first main draw victory in the first round since 2016 French Open. Now having bulldozed past Juan Martin del Potro, he couldn’t use his thundering serve against one of the best returners of serve on tour to go down 4-6, 1-6, 6-7. For Raonic it was the tricky opponent in Albert Ramos-Vinolas who has the ability to slug it out from the back of the court but on the day he was too little, too less for Raonic whose game works strongest on the lush, green grass of Wimbledon. The Canadian is trying to go one better than last year as he won 7-6, 6-4, 7-5.
From the word go on Center Court, Federer showed he meant business against World No 27 Mischa – Alexander Zverev’s older brother. And the numbers at the end reflected his sheer class. “It’s important to get through the first week with a good feeling,” said Federer, who compiled statistics of 61 winners to a mere seven unforced errors, “and I think I got that.” The result made Federer the first man to get to 15-0 in third-round matches at Wimbledon. The 35-year-old Swiss is looking to become the oldest man in the professional era to win the title.
Mischa forced a tiebreak in the first set, which Federer won without dropping a point on serve, and then the Swiss took control, breaking once in the next two sets before wrapping up the match in glorious fashion – an ace.
Novak Djokovic with meticulous display
Djokovic began slowly before taking control and then snuffed out Gulbis’ counter-attack in the third set. Such was the Serb’s concentration level from the word go, that he approached the chair umpire early on and told him “to focus” after some close line calls. Extremely fired up, Djokovic turned things around from 2-4 down in the first set to win four straight games in the opener.
Novak continued that momentum in the second to lead 5-0 before Gulbis registered himself on the scoreboard. The Latvian provided tough resistance in the final set to force a tiebreak but Djokovic ensured he was not going to be pushed – needing all the rest at the moment after playing the entire of last week in Eastbourne. “I’m delighted, I raised my level of tennis today compared to the first two rounds,” Djokovic, who has reached the second week for the 10th time, said. “This was the most focussed I’ve been on the court for the last couple of weeks.” Djokovic now faces Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
Milos Raonic takes giant stride into fourth round
Raonic’s firepower and sure shot style of play on grass was too much to handle for Ramos-Vinolas on a sunny Court One. He came into Wimbledon with little match practice – a first round loss at Queen’s and hamstring injuries during the season. But that seems to be a thing of the past after the first three rounds.
Oozing confidence, Raonic even banged down a second serve ace at 138mph. “I was holding serve pretty comfortably so I had a little bit of freedom to experiment there,” he said. Clearly upbeat with his serves, it showed in the final statistics where he won 84 percent of his first-serve points and 81 percent on second serve.
“I think I’ve always, over the last few years, been there from the baseline aspect,” he said. “It’s not like I’m rushing to the net because I can’t take care of my own from the back. “But I think it does send a positive message, at least on my behalf, across the net when I can be there, (I’ve) been winning a good amount of those important points. I think it takes away the perspective of ‘I’ll always do quite well in the short points’; that I can be there for the long ones too.” He next faces Alexander Zverev in the fourth round which could prove to be a tricky ballgame altogether.
Fourth round/R-16 match-ups
Murray vs Paire
Querrey vs Anderson
Nadal vs Muller
Bautista Agut vs Cilic
Raonic vs Zverev
Dimitrov vs Federer
Thiem vs Berdych
Mannarino vs Djokovic