WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Any lapse by Novak Djokovic is brief.
When the world’s No. 1 player double-faulted on his first two points in a tiebreaker Friday, he quickly regrouped to close out a victory over American qualifier Denis Kudla, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7).
“Somehow I found a way to win,” Djokovic said.
As usual. He improved to 17-0 in Grand Slam matches this year, and has also won 17 consecutive matches at Wimbledon, where he is the two-time defending champion.
During a postmatch interview on court, the Serb was asked about the source of his hunger to win, and he referenced his youth in a war-torn nation.
“The way I’ve grown up in difficult times in the ’90s for my country,” Djokovic said, “failure is never an option for me, or anybody in my family. We had to find a way to find the basic needs for us to survive during those times. It was difficult. That has strengthened my character, I would say.”
Djokovic’s opponent Monday will be No. 17-seeded Cristian Garín of Chile, who beat Pedro Martínez 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
On the women’s side, No. 2-seeded Aryna Sabalenka is into the second week of play, and on the verge of a career breakthrough. The hard-hitting Belarusian beat qualifier María Camila Osorio Serrano 6-0, 6-3 to reach the fourth round, and she might be overdue for a deep run in a Grand Slam.