Djokovic hits out over delay after booking place in quarters
LONDON: Novak Djokovic criticised Wimbledon officials for making the “wrong decision” in postponing his fourth round match yesterday after he eased into the quarterfinals a day later than expected with a 6-2 7-6(5) 6-4 win over France’s Adrian Mannarino.
The contest was held over after the marathon battle between Rafael Nadal and Gilles Muller concluded late on Monday.
The Serb, who had been stuck waiting for the end of that battle only to be sent home, said it would have been better to have moved his match to the, by then unused, Centre Court.
“I just think it was a wrong decision not to play us last night, because we could have played,” Djokovic said.
“I think the last match on the Centre Court was done before 7pm. Having in mind that Centre Court has the roof and lights, we could have played till 11pm.”
When the match did get under way, light rain led officials to close the roof over Centre Court, but despite his frustrations Djokovic came out strongly and easily won the first set.
The second-seed took a 3-0 lead in the second, but Mannarino broke back in the seventh game and took the contest to a tie-break. Both players struggled to hold serve, but Djokovic won five of the last six points to triumph.
The Serb, who will face Czech Tomas Berdych in the last eight, got his nose in front with a break in the third game of the third set and never looked in danger from then on.
Elsewhere, Venus Williams handed out another lesson to one of Wimbledon’s young upstarts when she beat Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 7-5 yesterday to become the oldest women’s semi-finalist in 23 years.
The five-times champion, who turned 37 last month, tamed the big-hitting Latvian with a rock-solid performance under the Centre Court roof, winning with something to spare.
The American, who must scroll back to Wimbledon 2008 for her seventh, and most recent, grand slam singles title, broke Ostapenko’s serve in the second game and was untroubled in taking the opener in 29 minutes. She sealed it when her 13th-seeded opponent swished at thin air on an attempted forehand service return.
Ostapenko was subdued as Williams secured an early break in the second set, although she got a helping hand back into the match when Williams double-faulted to drop serve. That had the effect of lighting the Ostapenko fuse and she began to look threatening as she held serve to love with an ace to move 4-3 ahead on a gloomy Centre Court.
Williams had to serve to stay in the second set at 4-5 and was relieved to see an Ostapenko return land narrowly wide at 30-30 before squaring the set. Ostapenko felt the pressure in the next game when a hurried forehand into the net gave Williams the break and the veteran needed no second invitation, holding serve to love to claim victory.
Meanwhile, Spain’s 2015 runner-up Garbine Muguruza advanced confidently into the Wimbledon semi-finals with a calmly efficient and wellcontrolled 6-3 6-4 victory over Russian seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Muguruza, the 2016 French Open champion who lost to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final the previous year, had just that bit more control in a hard-hitting baseline duel to follow up her victory over top seed Angelique Kerber on Monday.
Muguruza, seeded 14th, saved a tricky break point on her second service game – the only one she faced all match – but roared back to break to love en route to taking the first set. Another early break in the second piled the pressure on Kuznetsova and she was rarely able to threaten.
Muguruza, who has reached the last four for the loss of one set, brought up match point with an ace down the middle and won it courtesy of another big serve to earn a semi-final meeting with Magdalena Rybarikova or Coco Vandeweghe. – Reuters FIRED UP: Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates winning a point as he plays against Adrian Mannarino of France during their Men’s Singles Match on day eight at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London yesterday.