Djokovic’s Wimbledon match against Hurkacz was suspended

Published 9:33 pm Sunday, July 9, 2023

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Novak Djokovic will need to put in some work to get to the Wimbledon quarterfinals as he seeks a fifth consecutive title and eighth overall at the All England Club.

Djokovic took the first two sets 7-6 (6), 7-6 (6) — after trailing in each tiebreaker — against 17th-seeded Hubert Hurkacz on Sunday night at Centre Court before their fourth-round match was suspended because it was getting too late to continue to play.

They did not start until about 8:50 p.m. because the preceding match lasted about three hours. After Djokovic claimed the second set when Hurkacz sent a forehand wide at 10:35 p.m., chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani announced to the crowd: “Ladies and gentlemen: Play suspended.”

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Local rules prevent Wimbledon matches from extending past 11 p.m., and so matches that approach that time often will be halted after a set ends.

They’ll resume the fourth-rounder on Monday, with the winner to face No. 7 Andrey Rublev for a spot in the semifinals.

Djokovic could have been facing a much tougher night’s sleep had things gone slightly differently.

Hurkacz — whose victory over Roger Federer in the 2021 Wimbledon quarterfinals was the last outing of the 20-time Grand Slam champion’s career — pulled ahead 6-3 in the opening tiebreaker. That gave him a trio of set points.

But Djokovic stole the next five points on mistakes off Hurkacz’s racket: a backhand into the net; a forehand return into the net; a forehand into the net; a backhand into the net; a forehand return that landed long.

Hurkacz then was up 5-4 in the next tiebreaker, but never got closer that time, and Djokovic converted his second set point.

Earlier in that set, Djokovic lost a point when he lost his balance and his momentum carried him into the net. He and Hurkacz both laughed about it and threw their arms around each other’s shoulders.

The 36-year-old Djokovic is trying to achieve all sorts of milestones during this fortnight. In addition to trying to equal Federer’s men’s records for most Wimbledon championships in a row in the Open era (also shared with Bjorn Borg) and most in a career (Martina Navratilova won nine women’s trophies for the overall mark), Djokovic also can collect a 24th Grand Slam title.

He got No. 23 at the French Open last month to break a tie with Rafael Nadal for the men’s mark and pull even with Serena Williams for the most by anyone in the Open era. Margaret Court won 24 across the amateur and professional eras.