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Djokovic Masterclass Seals Fourth-Round Berth

There was no slowing down for Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon on Friday afternoon.

The Serbian cruised to a high-class 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 third-round win against countryman Miomir Kecmanovic at the grass-court major. Having dropped just seven games in defeating Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round, Djokovic matched that number with another sublime all-around display to overwhelm his opponent on Centre Court, breaking the Kecmanovic serve six times on the way to a one-hour, 52-minute victory.

“I think I’ve been playing better and better as the tournament progresses," said Djokovic in his on-court interview. "That’s obviously something that you always wish for as a player, that every match that you play you raise a level of tennis up a notch at least, and I think that is what is happening at the moment.

"I know I can always do better, I always expect the highest from myself, but I think so far, so good, and looking forward to the next challenge.”

It was Djokovic’s 24th consecutive win on grass, drawing him level with Australian great Rod Laver in third place on the Open Era list for longest tour-level winning streaks on the surface. The six-time champion next faces another man in red-hot form on the grass in Tim Van Rijthoven. The Dutch wild card dispatched Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 earlier on Friday to ease into the fourth round on his Grand Slam main draw debut.

Djokovic picked up where he left off against Kokkinakis with a lightning-fast start against Kecmanovic. He manoeuvred his opponent around the court with ease, effectively switching between clean striking and deft drop shots to charge to the opening set without dropping a game.

Kecmanovic did his best to respond to the early Djokovic barrage. The 22-year-old fended off a break point to notch his first game of the match for 1-1 in the second set and saved two more in the sixth game as Djokovic continued to press. The Serbian’s relentlessness on return did eventually pay off with a break in the eighth game, however, and he clinched the set in style through a wonderful reflex lob on set point.

Some delicate drop-volley winners to blunt powerful strikes from his opponent emphasised how in-tune the 35-year-old Djokovic’s game was, and two further breaks of the Kecmanovic serve saw Djokovic on the brink of victory at 5-2 in the third set. Despite the scoreline, Kecmanovic remained persistent, and he was rewarded with his first break of the Djokovic serve to reduce the deficit late on, but it ultimately proved too late as the top seed served out to keep his bid for a fourth-consecutive title at SW19 on track.

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Despite that late lapse, Djokovic’s serving was solid throughout. He won 88 per cent (30/34) of points behind his first delivery, while his cleaner, more consistent ballstriking earned him 36 winners compared to Kecmanovic’s 13.

The win extends Djokovic’s lead in his ATP Head2Head series with Kecmanovic to 3-0. It was the pair’s first meeting outside their homeland, with their previous clashes both coming on clay in Belgrade.

“I thought I started off very, very well. Very strong with a lot of good intensity, good focus," said Djokovic. "I know Miomir quite well, we train a lot obviously coming from Serbia. I’m really glad that he, alongside a couple of other players, is doing well. I wish him all the best, hopefully we will get to play many more times on the centre courts of the biggest tournaments.”

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