Novak Djokovic holds off British wild card Jacob Fearnley at Wimbledon

League: Tennis

Posted on: 04 Jul, 2024 at 09:26 PM

Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

World No. 2 Novak Djokovic and his recovering right knee got past wild card Jacob Fearnley of Great Britain in four sets on Thursday and advanced to the third round at Wimbledon.

The Serbian, seeded second, won 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 over Fearnley, who entered the tournament No. 277 in the world and had the home crowd in London loudly in his favor. Djokovic, pursuing his eighth Wimbledon title, had never played the 22-year-old Brit.

"It was a great effort from Jacob, he played great," said Djokovic, 37. "I had not had a chance to see him play before until two days ago. There is always an element of surprise and nothing to lose. Playing him at Wimbledon was always going to be tough. Most of the British players grow up being exposed to grass courts, quick surfaces, so they know how to play."

Djokovic, a 24-time major champion, was not looking for a long match as he plays following knee surgery in June. He won in three hours with the help of 14 aces. Fearnley notched 42 winners but was hurt by five double faults and 49 unforced errors, to 27 for the victor.

"(Fearnley) made me work," Djokovic said. "I was probably a bit lucky in the fourth (set) not to go a break down. I could have won the match in three, but this match potentially deserved to go into a fifth, with the way he played in the fourth. But I am very glad it didn't."

German No. 4 Alexander Zverev cruised into the third round by defeating Marcos Giron 6-2, 6-1, 6-4. Zverev held a 12-1 edge in aces over Giron and never faced break point.

It wasn't all good news for highly seeded players. Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori won a pair of long tiebreakers on his way to stunning Greek No. 11 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6 (6), 7-6 (10), 3-6, 6-3. Ruusuvuori saved three set points in the lengthy second-set tiebreaker before clawing ahead for good.

Ninth-seeded Alex de Minaur of Australia won in straight sets over Spain's Jaume Munar 6-2, 6-2, 7-5. Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov, the 10th seed, needed five sets to rally past China's Juncheng Shang 5-7, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.

American Ben Shelton, the 14th seed, was pushed to five sets for the second straight match in defeating South African qualifier Lloyd Harris 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-6 (7).

Shelton, who rallied past Italian Mattia Bellucci in his opening match on Monday, advances to the third round at Wimbledon for the first time. He faces Canada's Denis Shapovalov, who survived a five-set match with Germany's Daniel Altmaier 7-6 (3), 6-3, 1-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4.

American Taylor Fritz and Holger Rune of Denmark, the 13th and 15th seeds, each won in four sets.

One of the biggest draws for the home crowd Thursday was the all-British battle between Cameron Norrie and No. 28 seed Jack Draper. Norrie pulled away for a 7-6 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (6) victory.

"I think I love this Court 1," Norrie told reporters. "It's a special court for me. It wasn't easy coming out here today, to play Jack. He's been playing so well and we're such good friends off the court so we had to put that aside today.

"I think I was a little bit of the underdog coming into today so I think I was pretty relaxed coming in to be honest, but yeah, I was happy with my level, played really physical."

Another match where a seeded player fell saw French qualifier Quentin Halys take No. 21 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia the distance in a 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 comeback win.

No. 24 seed Alejandro Tabilo of Chile outlasted Italy's Flavio Cobolli 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), 4-6, 4-6, 6-4. In a battle of Italians, 25th seed Lorenzo Musetti beat Luciano Darderi 6-4, 4-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4.

Unseeded Alexei Popyrin of Australia knocked off No. 30 Tomas Martin Etcheverry of Argentina 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Other winners Thursday were Francisco Comesana of Argentina, Roman Safiullin of Russia and Frenchmen Gael Monfils, Lucas Pouille and Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard.

Poland's Hubert Hurkacz, the No. 7 seed, was forced to retire from his second-round match because of a knee injury. With Arthur Fils of France leading 7-6 (2), 6-4, 2-6, 6-6, the players were deep into the fourth-set tiebreaker when Hurkacz dove to make a shot and landed on his right knee.

With an 8-7 set point in his favor, Hurkacz called for a medical timeout, returned to the court to play two points, then retired with Fils at set point in the tiebreaker.

--Field Level Media