Novak Djokovic uses his ‘sneaky little steps’ to walk over Jarkko Nieminen
Defending champion ready for boisterous Australian crowd when he faces Bernard Tomic
Novak Djokovic celebrates beating Jarkko Nieminen in their second-round match at Wimbledon. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA
Novak Djokovic honourably ended the Wimbledon career of Jarkko Nieminen on Centre Court in just over an hour and a half. The world number one gave himself seven or eight out of 10 for the 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 performance but it was plenty enough against the 33-year-old Finn, who will be retiring at the end of the year.
The top seed was again imperious and went into the match not having lost to a player as low as Nieminen’s ranking of 92 in five years. These opening days are full of anxiety for the defending champion as he does not take part in any of the pre-Wimbledon grass court tournaments – at least not since Queens in 2010.
But his system works and again he was at pains to emphasise the changes required in movement for coming onto grass – sneaky little steps he called it. Djokovic now faces Bernard Tomic next and for that the Aussie fanatics will be out in force, as they were in for Nick Kyrgios’s win over Juan Monaco, challenging what they call “the Poms and Pimms brigade”.
“I think it’s nice to see in the tennis that there are a group of guys coming to support their player. I think tennis maybe misses that
Davis Cup atmosphere,” said Djokovic.
“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. So I know what to expect. Bernard and Kyrgios and [Thanasi] Kokkinakis are three young players from Australia that are under the radar of the world of tennis. They definitely do have the quality.
“I expect him to serve well, and I expect him to mix up the game, come up with a lot of variety. 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.”
Grass is the surface Tomic loves playing on most and, even for Djokovic, he may not be straight-forward. “I remember was it 2011, I think, quarter-finals, we played against each other,” said the Serb. “Four tough sets. So I’m not expecting anything easy there.”
Milos Raonic came and crushed a lot of tennis balls. Tommy Haas, on the other side of the net, couldn’t get to 29 of those first serves, although it seemed like more. Old school, the Canadian with the little-boy looks could go a long way with his deliveries. He beat Haas in four sets 6-0, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-6(4).
Pleasing on the eye
It is open to debate if it is pleasing on the eye. But whoever intends to beat the seventh seed, and next up it will be Kyrgios, will need their radar turned on to detect blurs. He tipped 140mph yesterday.
But he missed Roland Garros after surgery on a foot injury and made it to the quarter-finals at Queens. He is under cooked, but he is dangerous when the serves are scoring him points at the rate of 81 per cent as they were against the 37-year-old.
“I wasn’t the best junior, by any means, but after – when I was able to clarify what my strengths are and how to use them – I think I made good progress forward,” said Raonic.
Raonic also paid testament to Haas, who has had to come back from a series of injuries. “I think it’s incredible what he’s doing. It’s not just playing at 37 but playing at 37 and constantly coming back from many different things,” he said.