Djokovic sails through at Wimbledon

The world number one was untroubled in his second round match on Centre Court


Novak Djokovic was described this week in the London Times as making the other players in this years draw appear “frightfully last decade.”

It made the point that rather than the equipment designers making a racquet that suits the needs of a modern professional, instead Djokovic’s genetics, and physiology is the naturally perfect model to maximise the fruits of their research.

Put him on the end of any racquet and he will make it function. It maybe made of kevlar and carbon but the human is the machine.

Djokovic doesn’t have the ferocity of Nadal or the cold precision and orchestral presence of Federer. But yesterday the 26-year-old showed aspects of both, a sort of seamless, unflawed game and the lean zero fat physique that can bend, twist and if necessary carry him along for three, four or five hours.

With that he beat Bobby Reynolds 7-6(2), 6-3, 6-1 in just under two hours. “It’s a Grand Slam. It’s also sport,” said Djokovic afterwards. “I needed to be extra careful today because the roof closed. It’s a bit strange that so many top players have lost in the last day or so. The lower ranked players have extra motivation, nothing to lose when they play on the big stage.”

Took time off
After defeat in the French Open semi-final to Nadal this year, Djokovic was exhausted. Rather than race off to the next event to practice for grass, he spent a couple of weeks in Corsica to recharge and prepare for a tournament he knows will empty him once again.

Still the only former Wimbledon champion in the draw after the defeat of Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt, Reynolds looked like an unlikely character to continue the scattering of the seeds.

Sobered by the departures of the Swiss and Spaniard, Djokovic knew that a qualifier ranked at 156 in the world with no titles to his name and who largely competes on the Challenger Circuit, a level below the main tour, could again cause the perfect storm. He was an opponent who was going to chase every point. With the roof closed and all other tennis stopped on the outside courts because of constant drizzle, the eyes of the tennis word was for the first time this week focused on just one match.

The Serbian world number one had a scratchy first set, taking Reynolds to break points that he couldn’t convert. The American would surely have seen the match as the biggest one he ever played just as Ireland’s Conor Niland did when he faced Djokovic in the main draw of the US Open two years ago.

While Djokovic shook off the frustration of by passing points that would have made his a shorter shift, he took the first set at a canter. Firing ahead 5-0 in the tie break he finally claimed a foothold 7-5(2) after 52 minutes. But he couldn’t quiet shake the pesky Reynolds off as fast as he wanted.

And why would Reynolds want to go. For those moments he was Gielgud doing Hamlet. The American knew he probably wouldn’t win but nor could he give up the opportunity of making drama, drawing the Centre Court applause.

The second set at 6-3 came more comfortably to Djokovic. Had he looked at Reynold’s biography, he would have known that the 30-year-old may have once held a ranking of 63 but he had never come back from two sets down.

There was no apparent change of pace to the match but Reynolds was forced to work for every point but returning the ball over the net with nothing on it was tantamount to handing Djokovic free points.

Admiring fans
The Serb broke his opponent’s serve for 2-0, served for 3-0 and the fabulous weight of inevitability turned the crowd from spunky underdog supporters to admiring fans of the world number one playing within himself but doing so like a virtuoso performing his favourite piece, Reynold’s occasional service game slowing the progress but never threatening the out come.

He fell painlessly in the end, 6-1 for a straight set win and both players leaving the court relieved

“Yeah of course it was tough,” said Reynolds. “He’s not number one in the world for nothing. He’s a great player. I gave it my all and left everything out there and if it’s not good enough it’s not. You know the odds are not in you favour but that’s how it goes.

“It’s amazing even being on Centre Court,” he added. “I watched so many matches there growing up. I didn’t ever think it was possible to make it to here. I’ll definitely show my kids the video. You just can’t put a price tag on something like this. I loved it. It’s a once in a life time opportunity against a a great player, number one in the world. It’s so hard to gasp, its surprising I was even able to play out there.”