If Wednesday taught us anything it’s that there are no certainties in tennis. So when Novak Djokovic fronted up to play world No.156 Bobby Reynolds, few were willing to call the match unequivocally in the world No.1’s favour.
“It is a bit strange that all the top players lost in one or two days,” said Djokovic who admitted that he needed to be “extra careful today” in light of the wreckage left behind after play concluded on Woeful Wednesday.
“Everybody, especially lower ranked players in the opening rounds, have nothing to lose really when they go on the centre stage and they come up with their best game.”
Any apprehension Djokovic may have been feeling would only have been heightened as Reynolds, who has never made it past the third round at a major, kept pace with the top seed early before the Serb pulled away to win 7-6(2) 6-3 6-1.
The difference between these two players couldn’t be greater. Thirty-year-old Reynolds plays mostly on the Challenger circuit, has never won an ATP event and has never played on any Centre Court in the world. Ever.
Djokovic is a superstar of the game – a six-time Grand Slam champion, former Wimbledon winner and he rarely plays anywhere but Centre Court.
With the roof closed and rain falling outside, all attention turned to Djokovic and Reynolds. But rather than fold under the pressure, Reynolds held up his end early. The American did, however, find himself in some sticky situations and was forced to rely on his serve to get out of jail.
On the other side of the net, Djokovic certainly had his chances to break during the set. Multiple chances. “I think my game is there I just need to capitalise on my opportunities. Today I was very poor on the break points,” Djokovic conceded. “Credit to my opponent today for playing well when he was break points down.”
But in the tie-break, Djokovic – fully aware of how important it was to win it and extinguish Reynolds’ confidence – showed his class, reeling off the first five points to open up what proved to be an insurmountable lead. “I tried to focus on my game and do everything I planned with my coach tactically,” said Djokovic.
Reynolds could be forgiven for dropping his head but in the opening game of the second set he had Djokovic on the back foot at 0-30 when he was presented with an overhead. Make it and Reynolds would have three break points but the American blasted the ball long, letting Djokovic off the hook.
With the first set in the bag and a potential early break averted, Djokovic relaxed and his game started to flow with the Serb breaking the American in the second game. From there the match belonged to Djokovic as he pushed Reynolds around the court and booked his place in the third round for the eighth time in his career.
“He just puts so much pressure on you point after point after point. You don't ever get free points off your serve,” said Reynolds.
“He moves unbelievably well. You know, like I said, you think you hit a good shot, but he's right there crushing it back at you. There's so many things. That's why he's obviously No.1 in the world.”
Djokovic’s next test will come from either Jeremy Chardy or Jan-Lennard Struff whose match was delayed with the scores locked at one set apiece and Struff leading 2-1 in the third.
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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