Thanasi Kokkinakis sincerely hopes Novak Djokovic retains his Wimbledon crown after the Australian fell victim to a centre-court masterclass from the three-time defending champion.
Kokkinakis had both the best and worst view in the house as Djokovic delivered an imperious performance to storm into the third round with a 6-1 6-4 6-2 schooling on Wednesday.
Making his first appearance at the All England Club in five years, Kokkinakis felt Djokovic was untouchable at times and said he’d be surprised if anyone stopped the Serb from claiming a fourth consecutive title and the seventh of his grand career.
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“If someone beats him when he’s playing like that, it means I’m even further off than I thought. Hope not if he plays like that anyway,” Kokkinakis said.
“If that’s not his top intensity, I’m going to get chopped even more next time. He returned unbelievable, just did everything well.”
Hungry for a 21st grand slam singles crown to pull within one of great rival Rafael Nadal on the all-time men’s major titles leaderboard, Djokovic produced the full array of shots that left the crowd breathless at times.
From exquisite drops, to sublime volleying and even one incredible airborne backhand down-the-line winner, Djokovic was in full control.
“I must say I was quite pleased the way I’ve raised my level in two days. “It was really, really high-quality,” Djokovic said after needing exactly two hours to underline his credentials as the tournament’s hot favourite.
Djokovic rejected one suggestion that he played with extra intensity out of some sort of revenge for being deported from Australia on the eve of the Melbourne Park major in January.
“I don’t have any grudge over anybody really coming from Australia,” he said.
“I did not have any extra intensity or desire to win this match just because Thanasi is Australian.
“Actually in contrary, I really have a good relationship with Thanasi. I felt there was a lot of respect today.”
The top seed will play compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic next on Saturday for a place in the second week at Wimbledon for a 14th time.
While Djokovic marches on, Kokkinakis will turn his attention to doubles with embattled countryman Nick Kyrgios.
The reigning Australian Open champions had their scheduled first-round clash with Aljaz Bedene and Kwon Soonwoo postponed from Wednesday to Thursday.
But fans of the Special Ks shouldn’t hold their breath expecting another big run, with neither Kokkinakis, who’s still recovering from a knee injury, or Kyrgios keen on the format used at the All England Club
“Five sets, not ideal,” Kokkinakis said.
“I don’t know, I should be good to go. At least I’m only serving once in every four games.
“Yeah, it should be a bit easier than playing Novak, I hope.”
Kyrgios is even more against it, declaring on Wimbledon eve that best-of-five sets for doubles was “the stupidest thing ever”.
“I’m also dreading the fact that if it’s one set all, I’m going to have to be playing three more sets of doubles. So I don’t know,” he said.
“I’ve always gone pretty well here in singles, so I’m not going to on my off day play potentially five sets of doubles.”
After needing five sets to see off British wildcard Paul Jubb in the first round, Kyrgios resumes his singles campaign on Thursday against Serbian 26th seed Filip Krajinovic.
Five of Kyrgios’s compatriots are also in second-round action on day four.
Jordan Thompson takes on fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, with the winner to potentially play Kyrgios for a place in the second week.
Aussie No.1 Alex de Minaur meets rising Brit Jack Draper, while Jason Kubler faces fellow qualifier Dennis Novak, looking to make the third round of a grand slam for the first time.
And Ajla Tomljanovic, Australia’s last hope in the women’s singles, is up against American qualifier Catherine Harrison.