Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic beats Alexei Popyrin, reaches fourth round for sixteenth time

Diminutive giant-killer Yulia Putintseva will target another upset against former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, while lucky loser Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard aims to make more Wimbledon history.

AFP Sport looks at three fourth-round matches to watch on the eighth day of action at the All England Club:

Djokovic on song in title charge

Novak Djokovic has hit all the right notes in the opening rounds of his bid for Wimbledon history, but the Serb can’t afford an off-key moment in his tricky last 16 test against “spectacular” Holger Rune.

Chasing a record-equalling eighth title at the All England Club and 25th Grand Slam crown, Djokovic beat Australia’s Alexei Popyrin 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) on Saturday to reach the Wimbledon fourth round for the 16th time.

Still sporting a knee support on his right leg following surgery in June, Djokovic also showed the more playful side of his polarising personality after he subdued the gritty Popyrin.

The Serb, who last won Wimbledon in 2022, mimed playing a violin as he stood on Centre Court in a gesture apparently aimed at his daughter, who has recently started playing the instrument.

Djokovic will have to stay on song against Rune after the Danish 15th seed mounted an impressive third-round comeback, prevailing over Frenchman Quentin Halys in five sets having trailed by two.

“He looks to me a player that is ready for big things. He’s a spectacular player, no doubt. He’s a very tricky opponent,” Djokovic said.

“When it comes to competing, obviously we both have that fire. I’m sure on Monday we’ll see a lot of fireworks on the court.”

Putintseva set for Ostapenko battle

After ousting world number one Iga Swiatek in the third round, Yulia Putintseva is steeled for another potentially explosive clash when she faces Jelena Ostapenko for a place in the last eight.

The world number 35 fought back to stun Swiatek 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 and end the Polish star’s 21-match winning streak on Saturday.

Putintseva’s victory continued a superb grass-court season for the 29-year-old who won the Birmingham Classic last month.

The Russia-born Kazakhstani has reached the quarter-finals of the French Open and US Open, but had never been beyond the second round at Wimbledon.

“Last year I won no matches on grass. I mean, entering a tournament like Wimbledon, when you have five consecutive wins on grass, it’s pretty good. You feel this surface much better,” Putintseva said.

Putintseva will face the equally emotional Ostapenko next after the Latvian 13th seed’s 6-1, 6-3 win over Bernarda Pera.

Ostapenko won the French Open in 2017 and reached the Wimbledon semi-finals a year later, but has struggled to hit those heights since then.

Aces high for Mpetshi Perricard

Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard thought his Wimbledon campaign was over two weeks ago, but the big-serving Frenchman is now within touching distance of the quarter-finals.

Mpetshi Perricard, who stands a towering 2.03m (6ft 8ins) lost in the final round of qualifying to Maxime Janvier last Thursday.

But the 20-year-old was reprieved when he got the call to replace injured Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the main draw.

Capitalising on his unexpected opportunity, Mpetshi Perricard defeated Emil Ruusuvuori 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-/5), 6-4 on Saturday to become the first lucky loser to make the Wimbledon last 16 since Dick Norman in 1995.

Fuelled by his mammoth serve — which has produced 105 aces so far in the tournament — Mpetshi Perricard faces Italian 25th seed Lorenzo Musetti as he aims to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final.

That would be the perfect birthday present for the rising star, who turns 21 on Monday.

“I’m very proud of myself. How far can I go? I don’t know. I’m just focused on the next one,” he said.

(with agency inputs)


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Published: 08 Jul 2024, 07:20 AM IST

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