Novak Djokovic is preparing himself to take on Bernard Tomic and his army of Aussie Fanatics who will undoubtedly be courtside for their upcoming third round match on Friday.
The Fanatics, a group of Australian sports fans created in 1997 to support their home players, have been out in full force so far this week at Wimbledon, chanting and singing from the stands.
Djokovic is no stranger to taking on Aussie opposition and when he faces Tomic, it will be a rematch of their quarter-final here in 2011, which the Serb won in four close sets.
“I think it’s nice to see in the tennis that there are a group of guys coming to support their player,” said Djokovic, who is bidding for a third Wimbledon crown.
“I think tennis maybe misses that a little bit more, more of I’d say Davis Cup atmosphere.
“But you get used to it once you play in front of them, which I’ve done in Australia quite a few times against Lleyton Hewitt.
“So I know what to expect. Bernard and Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis are three young players from Australia that are on the radar of the world of tennis, especially the world of Australia.
“Everybody’s relying on them and cheering them on so they can be fighting for the biggest trophies. They definitely do have the quality. I’m going to play against one of them, so let’s hope I can play well.”
Tomic exploded onto the scene when he made the quarters at the All England Club as an 18-year-old qualifier in 2011. Now 22, Tomic is ranked 26 in the world and is yet to match or register a better result at a major since then.
He has undeniable talent but has had numerous injuries and off-court problems that have hampered his progress.
“I do expect him to serve well, and I do expect him to mix up the game, come up with a lot of variety,” said Djokovic of Tomic. “That’s what he does. He’s got a lot of talent in his hands. He can play flat shots. He can play short slice, come to the net. He has a very quick motion for the serve. It’s very difficult to read it on grass. This is the surface that he loves playing the most on.”
In the second round on Wednesday, Djokovic ended Jarkko Nieminen’s Wimbledon career with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 victory on Centre Court.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 1, 2015
The world No1’s celebration was muted as he went over to hug the 33-year-old Finn and gave him a standing ovation along with the crowd.
“I have very nice relationship with Jarkko for many years. When I was coming into the professional tennis as an 18-year-old, I was playing a Challenger in Helsinki in Finland, that’s where I met him the first time,” said Djokovic.
“Ever since then he’s been very kind to me. He’s one of the nicest guys on the tour that I know on the court and off the court.
“Just out of respect. There are these moments. In the present moment, maybe you are not aware how important it is, it’s a milestone for him, it’s his last match in Wimbledon. I’m sure he wanted to enjoy it a little bit. So he deserved the ovation.”
Nieminen got off to a great start, breaking Djokovic’s serve in the opening game with a backhand down the line winner before leading 2-0. But the lead was short-lived as Djokovic broke back in game six to draw level at 3-all.
An outrageous backhand miss at the net from Nieminen gave Djokovic his first set point. And after a lengthy rally, Djokovic broke down the Nieminen backhand to take the set. The defending champion never looked back after that. He gave himself a seven or eight of ten for his performance.
Four men have won both Roland Garros and #Wimbledon in the same year: Laver, Borg, Nadal and Federer. Wawrinka looking to become the fifth
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) June 29, 2015
Later on Court 1, No4 seed Stan Wawrinka eased past Victor Estrella Burgos 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 in 90 minutes to book a third round with Fernando Verdasco, who joined Hewitt as the only active players with 35 grand slam five-setters played in the Open Era (sixth on the all-time list) thanks to a 5-7, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 win over Austrian Dominic Thiem.
Australian Nick Kyrgios had another run-in with an umpire en route to his straight sets win over Juan Monaco. The young Aussie, who faces Milos Raonic next, said: “I just thought he thought he was top dog in the chair really. He was telling me not to speak to him, all that stuff.”
US Open champion Marin Cilic survived a difficult marathon with Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis before coming through 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 7-5.
Last year’s semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov couldn’t get a break chance in the opening set before he switched gears to beat American Steve Johnson 7-6 (8), 6-2, 7-6 (2).
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios kicked up another storm at Wimbledon after the 20-year-old was involved in a heated exchange with an umpire during his victory over Juan Monaco.
Kyrgios beat Monaco 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 6-4 in the second round but the world number 29 attracted attention again for a number of angry outbursts on Court 18.
The most controversial occurred at 6-5 in the opening set when a line judge made a complaint to the umpire after Kyrgios had uttered an string of expletives in response to his missed shot. An altercation followed as Kyrgios was heard asking the umpire: “Is that a threat?” and “Does it feel good to be up there in that chair? Does it make you feel strong?”
Kyrgios also vented his frustration at a group of Australian fans, who are famous for their vocal support and sang songs supporting their compatriot throughout the match. As the supporters began chanting while Kyrgios quarrelled with the umpire, he turned to them and said: “now is not a good time” before later telling them to “stop it”.
It is the second controversy in three days for Kyrgios, who escaped punishment on Monday after appearing to shout “dirty scum” towards an umpire during his first round win over Diego Schwartzman. Kyrgios insisted he was directing the insult at himself, rather than the official.
— British Tennis (@BritishTennis) July 1, 2015
Djokovic breezes past Nieminen
There was less animosity on Centre Court where defending champion Novak Djokovic cruised to a straight-sets win over Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen.
Nieminen, who reached the quarter-finals in 2006, is retiring at the end of the season and his final appearance at Wimbledon took just an hour and 32 minutes as Djokovic eased to a 6-4 6-2 6-3 victory.
Djokovic had to play through the hottest day ever recorded at Wimbledon with the Met Office recording a nearby temperature of 35.7 degrees Celsius. “It wasn’t as bad as I thought,” Djokovic said.
“People were talking about it and predicting really difficult conditions but I didn’t find it as difficult as I thought it might be.”
Bernard Tomic in the last 32 will provide a tougher test, although the powerful 27th seed has never beaten Djokovic in the pair’s previous four meetings, which included a Wimbledon quarter-final in 2011.
Elsewhere, Tomic was less comfortable in the heat as he had to call for medical assistance in the third set of his 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 7-6 (7/5) win over Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Ninth seed Marin Cilic was also made to sweat as he squeezed through 6-3 4-6 7-6 (8/6) 4-6 7-5 against Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis while Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov are also safely through.
Watson defeated Slovakian world number 72 Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 6-2 in the second round and is the only remaining Briton in the women’s singles.
The 23-year-old from Guernsey next faces the daunting task of taking on world number one Serena Williams in the last 32.
Watson’s progress has been hampered by a bout of glandular fever that sidelined her for two months in 2013 and a rib injury last year.
But her emphatic victory over Hantuchova equalled her best-ever showing at Wimbledon by reaching the third round for the first time since 2012, when she was defeated by eventual finalist Agnieszka Radwanska.
The world number 59, who saved three match points in the first round against French 32nd seed Caroline Garcia, has never been past the third round of a Grand Slam in 18 previous attempts.
Good on Heather Watson. Just called out someone for asking her Serena next? “She hasn’t played yet. I dont like it when ppl do that”
— Reem Abulleil (@ReemAbulleil) July 1, 2015
Ice-cool Serena defies heat to make third round
Serena Williams hardly broke sweat in the Wimbledon heat as the world number one cruised into the third round with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Hungary’s Timea Babos.
With sweltering temperatures reaching a Wimbledon record 35.7C (96.2F), five-time champion Williams kept her cool to dispatch world number 93 Babos with 12 aces and 23 winners in just 59 minutes on Centre Court.
Williams has swept to Australian and French Open triumphs over the last six months, taking her within two major titles of becoming the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to claim the four top titles in one year.
Elsewhere, seventh-seeded Ana Ivanovic crashed out of Wimbledon in the second round on Wednesday, losing 6-3, 6-4 to American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
Ivanovic had reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2007 and was heavy favourite to beat her world ranked 158 opponent.
Mattek-Sands will face Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic for a place in the last 16. Ivanovic is the third top 10 seed to lose this week.