World number one Novak Djokovic has reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon for the 13th time after a 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 win over qualifier Denis Kudla. The match lasted two hours and 16 minutes, and Novak had to work hard to prevail in three sets, scoring a late break in the first set and losing 4-1 in the third.
Despite that, the five-time winner crossed the finish line in straight sets following a comeback in the tie-break for his 75th win at the All England Club. Kudla broke Novak twice and suffered four breaks of ten chances offered to the world's leading player to end his journey in the third round.
Novak had 34 winners and 28 unforced errors, dominating his shots very well and prevailing when it mattered most to prepare for the clash against Cristian Garin. Both players served well in the first nine games as Denis kept up with Novak to keep in touch.
Kudla fired a forehand down the line in the sixth game to level the score at 3-3 and held at zero two games later to equalize the score at 4-4. Staying calm, Novak hit an ace to bring the ninth game home and then broke 6-4.
The American landed a forehand long in the second game of the second set to suffer the second break in a row before regaining it in the next to stay on the bright side. Djokovic broke Kudla for the third time in a row to open a 3-1 gap after 53 minutes, looking good to bring the set home from there.
Both players blew a break opportunity in games six and seven, and Kudla played two set points at 2-5. He saved both to prolong the action before Novak stayed at 15 in game nine with a forehand winner to close the set and get closer to the finish line.
Denis took a break early in the third set and produced three comfortable serve at-bats for a 4-1 lead. Novak broke in the seventh game, and they both served well until the tiebreaker. Trailing 4-1, Djokovic erased the disadvantage and blew a match point at 6-5.
The Serb then saved a set point at point 14 and moved over when Kudla missed a forehand two points later.
Kudla reflects on Novak Djokovic
Denis Kudla lost to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon third round on Friday. And after the match, he claimed that one of the reasons Djokovic doesn't get a lot of crowd support is that the majority of tennis spectators are fans of Roger Federer.
"I think everyone respects what Novak does a lot, but they want to see surprises," Kudla said. "With Federer, it's different, they always encourage him. But in the end, Djokovic doesn't care. He's determined to win, he's extremely good.
There really is nothing he can do wrong on the court." Denis Kudla then elaborated on why fans "cheer against" Novak Djokovic. "Everyone respects what he (Novak Djokovic) does, but I think there are unanimously Roger fans in this world," Kudla said. "I think they just maybe want him to keep that record. That's probably one reason they cheer against him."