World No.1 Novak Djokovic eased into the Third Round of Wimbledon with a commanding 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5) triumph over Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
The Serb was forced to dig deep, surrendering six break points and racking up close to ten double faults but prevailed despite the best efforts of the left-handed Frenchman, securing his thirtieth successive Grand Slam singles matches victory.
Ebb and flow
Opting to receive seemed to be an inspired decision for the 29-year-old when he was able to fashion two break points on the Serb’s opening serve. In typical fashion, however, Djokovic landed two supreme first serves and steadied himself to halt an early scare on Centre Court.
The Frenchman held to love to restore parity and was asking questions of the world No.1 early on. Aggressive on Djokovic’s first serve, the Serb doubled faulted to bring up 30-30 and, despite failing to capitalise, the three-time Wimbledon champion must have trotted to his bench weary of his opponent.
Several have wilted under the Centre Court lights — the roof having been closed due to the terminal rain in SW19 — but the birthday boy was making a fist of it, extracting the maximum from Djokovic with his meticulous forehands and defence from the baseline. Tied at 3-3, the Frenchman produced a sumptuous dropshot that drew admiration from the world No.1.
Serb seizes control
For all of Mannarino’s resistance, however, Djokovic broke when it mattered most, constructing match point with a supreme return before the Frenchman connected with the net to wrap up the opening set.
The world No.1 capitalised on the head of steam he had built up towards the end of the first set by breaking Mannarino in his first service game after the interval. Quickly, the Serb had fashioned a 3-0 lead and had the 29-year-old rattled.
The Frenchman regained his composure but genuine opening’s on Djokovic’s serve were in scant supply. Failing to wrestle back a break of serve, Djokovic held to love, punctuated by an unerring service game, to take a commanding two-set buffer.
Such is the strength of the world No.1 that, when faced with four break points to open the third set, he held his nerve, serving with exquisite depth.
Mannarino wasn’t prepared to down tools, stretching Djokovic on serve and producing some cute shots with his unique forehand.
But the break wasn’t far away. Tied three a piece, the Serb constructed a couple of break points and, despite squandering the first, pounced to take authority in the third.
Djokovic’s performance — however poised he had been during the decisive moments — was plagued by an uncharacteristic number of double faults and when Mannarino forced a break point with Djokovic serving for a place in the next round, he finally made it count. His eighth double fault of the afternoon handed Mannarino a break back.
A tie-break followed and, stretching every sinew to build two match points, the Serb forced Mannarino into a groundstroke into the net and sealed his progression to the next round.