Djokovic wins 30th straight Grand Slam match
LONDON >> Chalk up another Grand Slam milestone for Novak Djokovic.
The defending Wimbledon champion won his 30th straight match at a major tournament Wednesday, sweeping into the third round with a clinical 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory over Adrian Mannarino under the roof on Centre Court.
The win gave Djokovic sole ownership of third place on the all-time list for most consecutive victories in Grand Slam play. Only Rod Laver with 31 and Don Budge with 37 have won more in a row.
Asked whether he was surprised to reach the 30-match mark, Djokovic said: "No, not so much, because I do have lots of expectations for myself."
"But I'm very grateful obviously for the fact I'm able to play on such a high level consistently in the Grand Slam tournaments that matter the most in our sport," he added. "Definitely that is a stat that I'm very proud of."
Djokovic hasn't lost a Grand Slam match since falling to Stan Wawrinka in the 2015 French Open final. He hasn't dropped a set so far this week as he bids for a fourth Wimbledon title, fifth straight Grand Slam championship and 13th major overall.
For two sets and most of the third, Djokovic had little trouble against the 55th-ranked Mannarino, a French lefthander playing on his 28th birthday.
But the match came to life with Djokovic serving for the match at 5-4. He served two double-faults, his seventh and eighth of the match, and was broken for the first time.
Then, in the tiebreaker, Djokovic moved out to a 5-2 lead after a pair of cross-court winners. Two points later, Mannarino played a soft drop shot. Djokovic raced forward and slipped and fell onto his back, his racket flying, as he knocked the ball into the net.
Djokovic was unhurt, and unfazed, and he closed out the match three points later.
The match was played in its entirety under the retractable roof, which was closed after steady rain lashed the grounds and forced delays on all other courts.
"The atmosphere when the roof is closed is a little more special," Djokovic said. "It gets loud and when I failed to serve it out at 5-4 in the third, the crowd really got into it. It was fun."
Earlier, third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, who reached the women's final here in 2012, overwhelmed Kateryna Kozlova 6-2, 6-1 in just over an hour to move into the second round at the All England Club.
Radwanska used her clever all-court game to thoroughly dominate the 97th-ranked Ukrainian, who was making her main draw debut at Wimbledon and has never won a Grand Slam match. Radwanska won the first four games and was always in control.
"A one-hour match is always good, especially with that weather," Radwanska said. "Now we're playing every day, so I'm just very happy with that win and ready for the next one."
Radwanska lost to Serena Williams in three sets in the 2012 final. The two are in the same half of the draw this year and could meet in the semifinals.
"(I'm) trying every year to do better and better, of course," Radwanska said. "I was close a couple times. So it's another year to try. And hopefully I can do one step (further)."
But all that seemed just a warm-up to the main event coming later in the day.
Seven-time champion Roger Federer — perhaps the greatest player of all time — had a second-round match against Marcus Willis, a 772nd-ranked British qualifier who had never won a tour-level match until Monday.
Willis is the lowest-ranked qualifier to reach the second round of a Grand Slam since 1988. He gives tennis lessons at a club in central England and was only recently talked out of giving up on his goal of making it on the pro tour by his girlfriend.
Now, Willis gets to face Federer on the most famous court in tennis, with a large group of friends and family on hand to support him in a journey that has captivated the British public.
Before play was stopped by rain on the outside courts, three players managed to finish matches that had been suspended the previous day: 10th-seeded Tomas Berdych completed a 7-5, 7-5 (5), 5-7, 6-1, 7-6 (2) win over Ivan Dodig; Andrea Petkovic, seeded No. 32, beat Nao Hibino of Japan, 3-6, 7-5, 6-2; and Evgeniya Rodina downed Lesia Tsurenko 6-3, 7-5.
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