Djokovic and Alcaraz close to Wimbledon as women’s draw opens

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz ended the Wimbledon Generations Clash on Friday with just four top 10 spots left in the women’s draw.

Three-time defending champion Djokovic beat Serbian compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 in the third round to stay on track for seven-time champion Pete Sampras, one behind Roger Federer’s men’s record.

Friday’s win was Djokovic’s 330th Grand Slam win.

“So far so good,” said the top-seeded 35-year-old.

“I expect high standards from myself. You always want to level up, and things are going well.”

Djokovic won 22 consecutive matches on grass and was in the last 16 at Wimbledon for the 14th time.

He has not lost a match on grass since losing to Marin Cilic in the Queen’s final four years ago.

“I started very well, very strongly, with great intensity and focus,” added Djokovic, whose only mistake was brought down as he served for the 5-2 match in the third set.

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In the 1/8 finals, Djokovic will play with the Dutchman Tim van Reithoven.

Playing in his Grand Slam main draw debut, world No. 104 defeated 22nd-placed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

Van Rijthoven, 25, proved his prowess on grass by winning the title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch last month, defeating world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev in the final.

“Before the tournament, it was my dream to play Djokovic,” said Van Reithoven, who became the seventh player since 2000 to reach the round of 16 in his Grand Slam debut.

“So being able to have that chance and maybe even play Center Court or Court 1 is beautiful and magical.”

It took Djokovic four sets to get past Kwon Sung-woo in the first round and has only lost 14 games since then.

If he beats van Reithoven, he could face Alcaraz in the quarter-finals.

The 19-year-old Spaniard edged out Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 to reach the fourth round for the first time.

Alcaraz, who has scored 37 winners in total, faces 10th-placed Italian Yannick Sinner, who eliminated John Isner in straight sets.

Isner’s only consolation was that he overtook Ivo Karlovic as the sport’s top aces hitter, bringing his career aces total to 13,748.

British ninth seed Cameron Norrie also advanced to the round of 16, beating Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-1, 6-0.

Women’s seeds are falling

Maria Sakkari became the sixth of the top 10 seeded women to be eliminated before the end of the third round.

The No. 5 Greek lost 6-3, 7-5 to German world number 103 Tatiana Maria, who returned to the tour last year after maternity leave.

Maria for the first time in the fourth round of the Slam will fight with former French Open champion Elena Ostapenko for reaching the quarterfinals.

“This is amazing, the first time in 16 years. It’s great to beat Sakkari,” said Maria, a mother of two.

Ostapenko, the 2018 semi-finalist, brought her winning tally to 102 in three rounds by defeating Romania’s Irina Camelia Bega 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.

Germany’s Jule Niemeyer followed up her victory over second-place Anette Kontaveit and saw off Ukraine’s Lesya Tsurenko in three sets.

Also on Friday, 2018 champion Angelique Kerber was eliminated, while the 15th-placed German lost to Elise Mertens 6–4, 7–5.

The Belgian, who had to save two match points in the previous round, will face world No. 2 Ons Jabeur.

2021 quarter-finalist Jabeur from Tunisia beat young Frenchwoman Diane Parry 6–2, 6–3.

World number one Iga Swiatek, Žaber, Paula Badosa and Jessica Pegula are the only seeds left in the top 10.

Francis Tiafoe and Tommy Paul kept the American momentum going at Wimbledon by reaching the Round of 16 for the first time.

In total, eight Americans made it to the third round, the most Wimbledon since 1995.

Meanwhile, Venus Williams triumphed at Wimbledon when the 42-year-old American teamed up with Britain’s Jamie Murray in the mixed doubles.

The wildcard pair defeated Michael Venus and Alicia Rosolskaya 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3 in their first round clash.