The Vice President is still in the game. Janko Tipsarevic, who refers to his compatriot Novak Djokovic as “the President” because of his stratospheric popularity in their home country of Serbia, survived a three-hour rain delay and a doughty challenge from the American qualifier Ryan Sweeting on No.2 Court today. Tipsarevic, who turned 28 last Friday, has seen his career blossom late – he has now reached No.8 in the world (and No.2 in Serbia) having only once made a Grand Slam quarter-final, at the US Open last year. By seeing off Sweeting 5-7, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 he is through to the third round here for the first time since 2008, and will hope at least to equal his best ever Wimbledon (from 2007) by making the last 16.
Sweeting belied his No.133 ranking right from the off, digging in for plenty of long, feisty rallies in the humid air. When he was required to save break point in the very first game, it seemed a sign that Tipsarevic would prevail easily. But Sweeting forced an error to save it, and it turned out to be the Serb’s only opening of the set. Tipsarevic appeared mildly out of sorts, briefly querying a bald patch of turf midcourt with umpire Lars Graff, and then loudly chiding himself when he missed a shot. At 6-5, when the set seemed certain to go to the breaker, Tipsarevic double-faulted for deuce. Sensing an opening, Sweeting forced an error for the break point, and then sent a backhand return down the line. The ball was called out, but the umpire overruled and the first set was his.
The second set was also remarkably entrenched, given that the American saved break point at 1-1, and then another five – yes, five – at 4-4. When he held that game for 5-4, it seemed that must be the pivotal moment of the set, especially by the manner in which he saved the last of those five break points. According to the line judge he double-faulted to give the break, but Sweeting challenged and Hawk-Eye went his way. Yet the good omen counted for nothing. At 5-5 he double-faulted (genuinely this time) for Tipsarevic’s seventh break point of the set, and this time the American immediately sent the ball wide. After all that, Tipsarevic simply served out to love and the match was level.
Sweeting began to flag. Throughout the match he had several times been at 0-30 on his own serve, only to dig himself out of trouble. At 1-1 in the third he did it again but this time it was a reach too far. Tipsarevic fired down a backhand pass at the net for the break point, after which Sweeting put the ball wide. At that moment the rain began to fall forcing play to be suspended, and when they resumed three hours later at 6.11pm Tipsarevic’s control of the match could not be shaken. The one break of serve was enough to earn him the third set.
Tiring faster now, Sweeting saved break point in the opening game of the fourth but could not repeat the trick two games later. Tipsarevic broke again for 4-1, and the match was soon over.
“Ryan was serving really huge in the first two sets,” reflected Tipsarevic afterwards. “I had to win all the points by myself from the baseline. The key moment was when I broke his serve for the first time at the end of the second set, and I had to keep believing I could do it again. Then it was lucky for me I got the break just before the rain. It was unusually humid for Wimbledon today, and the balls were heavy, so there was a lot of baseline tennis. I’m really glad to be in the third round and looking forward to the next one.”