Novak Djokovic held his rank. But the Serb had to work hard to beat a surprising Tim van Rijthoven, in four sets (6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2) and 2:38 of play, in the knockout stages of Wimbledon , Sunday night.
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The Serb notably had to raise his voice when the Dutchman, who bravely played his luck, returned to a set everywhere. Imperial, Djoko was able to tighten the screw to definitively stifle his opponent, guilty of too many unforced errors (53) to hope to climb Everest. The three-time defending champion will face Jannik Sinner, Carlos Alcaraz’s scorer, in the quarter-finals.
Van Rijthoven caused problems for Djokovic
Tim van Rijthoven can leave London with his head held high and his chest out. It is an understatement to say that he did not only make up the numbers when he crossed paths with Novak Djokovic, the king of the turf for several seasons now. The Dutchman, whom no one was expecting there and who was promised hell, showed great things against the native of Belgrade.
He had a certain audacity to shake up an irreproachable and concentrated Djoko (19 unforced errors, 90% of points won at the net). With his power, in the service (20 aces) as in the game, van Rijthoven participated in a breathless spectacle. And the Serb certainly did not expect to be pushed to his limits after the almost too easy win in the first set (6-2). It was a sham.
Because the Dutchman took the measure of the meeting and the stakes, sometimes forcing Djokovic to defend the lead and pull out strokes of genius. He completely allowed himself to break in the second set (3-4), before equalizing on his service, not without having fought when it was necessary to conclude (4-6). It is undoubtedly this burst of energy, necessary to snatch a set from Djoko, coupled with an inhibiting euphoria, which cost van Rijthoven the match.
Tim van Rijthoven
Credit: Getty Images
A lost set, then Djokovic restarted the machine
The Dutchman was no longer there after having nevertheless believed in a possible exploit. Eyes closed, Djokovic then remobilized to raise his voice and register five games in a row in the third set (after a double break). A last act which was therefore one-sided, marked by very little waste from the Serb (2 small unforced errors).
What followed was not much more pleasing for the Dutchman, who was broken from the start and only had to see the damage. We felt a slight burst of pride, but it was insufficient to catch up with a Djokovic who had already engaged light speed for too long. Despite the missiles received, the world number 1 often found this extra stroke of the racket to counter-attack and feed the opposing waste, testifying to an imperial involvement to continue his journey at Wimbledon.
On paper, the next round against Jannik Sinner will be a whole different matter. But van Rijthoven sometimes looked like a world top 10 in this match, an observation that could serve a Djoko on a mission.
Novak Djokovic in his Round of 16 match against Tim Van Rijthoven at Wimbledon 2022
Credit: Getty Images
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