Bored of flying under the radar when headlines have focused on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s early exits and the annual bout of Murraymania, top seed Novak Djokovic put his foot down on Saturday, committing a paltry three unforced errors on his way to blitzing Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.
Most players would be unperturbed at just three errors flying from their strings in the opening few games, let alone over three sets.
This was a performance of near flawlessness.
Frenchman Chardy, who made a career-best run to the Australian Open quarter-finals this year, had to wait until he was trailing 4-1 in the third set before the 2011 Wimbledon champion would throw in a double fault, his first unforced error of the match.
The statistics speak for themselves. The Serb dropped six points on serve throughout, with 38 winners to Chardy’s 18. He brought a close to the Centre Court schedule in such a hurry, organisers had time to shift Serena Williams’ match with Kimiko Date-Krumm under the roof.
“When everything works well it’s a fantastic feeling,” Djokovic said afterwards.
“I felt great from the start til the end. I had that super focus, you know, and tried to be out there every point and not allow him to come back to the match or to have any chance.”
He made 74 per cent of first serves and won an astonishing 93 per cent of those points.
“That was incredible for me. I enjoyed every moment of it, especially at the end. I managed to read his serve. Everything went well. So when you play that well, obviously you feel great, you feel confident,” he said. “This kind of performance came in the right time for me.”
For all his impeccable off-court etiquette though, Djokovic was showing no sympathy for the hapless Frenchman.
He relinquished the most revered prize in the game to Federer in last year’s semi-finals and Chardy on Saturday presented just another hurdle to reclaiming it.
“No, I don't think when you're at the court you feel sorry about your opponent, you know. You want to win the match regardless of what is the scoreboard,” he said.
“Of course, he didn't feel like he could do much on the court. You know, that's too bad. But on the other hand… I wanted to finish off the match as quicker the better, you know, and win every game.”
As the last former Wimbledon champion left in the draw, Djokovic squares off against German veteran Tommy Haas for a place in the quarter-finals.
The No.15 seed is one of only five players to have beaten the Serbian this year.
He would become the first to beat him twice in 2013.
“I mean, he's 35, 36 years old, and he's been playing very close to the best tennis of his life, in my opinion. He's very fit. He doesn't look like 36-years-old man, for sure. He's full of confidence on the court,” Djokovic said of Haas.
“I need to try to repeat the performance from today.”
Haas could be in for a fruitless day if Djokovic emulates that script.
20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...
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