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Djokovic beats Wawrinka as Murray hints Wimbledon days over

LONDON (AFP) – Novak Djokovic made the Wimbledon fourth round for the 15th time on Friday night, beating old rival Stan Wawrinka and a night-time curfew as Andy Murray hinted his All England Club days may be over.

Djokovic, chasing a record-equalling eighth Wimbledon title and 24th career Grand Slam crown, came through 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (7/5) against the 38-year-old Wawrinka.

World number two Djokovic will face Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, who he has defeated five times in as many meetings, for a place in the quarter-finals.

Novak Djokovic celebrates after beating Stan Wawrinka in a men’s singles match on day five of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London. PHOTO: AP

Friday’s win was Djokovic’s 21st in 27 meetings with Wawrinka, a three-time major champion who famously defeated the Serb in the 2015 French Open and 2016 US Open finals.

Djokovic never faced a break point under the Centre Court roof and completed victory just 15 minutes before the 11pm All England Club curfew kicked in otherwise they would have had to return on Saturday.

“Stan’s doing an amazing job for his age – we are two old guys,” said 36-year-old Djokovic who went level with Pete Sampras’s mark of 31 successive wins at the tournament.

“We’ve had great battles over the years. I respect him as a player and love him as a person. He’s a really nice guy.”

Djokovic’s win kept him on course for a championship match showdown with world number one and US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz who defeated 84th-ranked Alexandre Muller of France 6-4, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3.

The 20-year-old Alcaraz will face Chile’s Nicolas Jarry for a spot in the last 16.

Murray admitted he doesn’t know if he will be back at Wimbledon after going down 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (2/7), 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 to fifth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas in a four-hour 40-minute second round epic.

The 36-year-old has not made the second week of a Grand Slam since reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 2017.

“I don’t know,” said former world number one Murray when asked if he would be back in 2024.

“Motivation is obviously a big thing. Continuing having early losses in tournaments like this don’t necessarily help with that.”

Andy Murray leaves the court after losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas. PHOTO: AP

Tsitispas fired 90 winners past Murray and goes on to face Laslo Djere of Serbia for a place in the last 16.

“It’s never easy against Andy. Everyone loves him here,” said the 24-year-old Greek.

Murray had been ahead two sets to one when the match was halted on Thursday due to the tournament curfew.

However, he was unable to maintain the momentum on Friday despite not dropping serve in the match until the third game of the decider.

Men’s third seed Daniil Medvedev returned to complete his second-round clash against Adrian Mannarino, the Frenchman who defeated him at Wimbledon five years ago.

The mercurial Russian was two sets and 4-4 ahead when play was halted on day four but quickly wrapped up victory in a third set tie-break.

Danish sixth seed Holger Rune reached the third round for the first time, brushing aside Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena 6-3, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4.

Seventh seeded Andrey Rublev of Russia and Italian eighth-seed Jannik Sinner made the last 16 with wins over David Goffin and Quentin Halys respectively.

World number one Iga Swiatek, the US Open and French Open champion, went through to the last 16 with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Petra Martic and next faces 14th-ranked Belinda Bencic.

Victory in that clash will give the 22-year-old Pole a place in the quarter-finals for the first time.

Second seed Aryna Sabalenka recovered from a set down to beat Varvara Gracheva, who recently switched nationality from Russia to France, 2-6, 7-5, 6-2.

Fifth-seeded Caroline Garcia became the fourth top 10 woman to be knocked out when she committed 53 unforced errors in a 7-6 (7/0), 4-6, 7-5 loss to Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic.

Victoria Azarenka, twice a semi-finalist, made the last 16 when she brushed aside Russia’s Daria Kasatkina.

She will face Elina Svitolina who will again refuse to shake hands with her Belarusian rival in protest at the country’s support of Russia in the invasion of Ukraine.

“For me it’s a big motivation and for my country as well. A lot of Ukrainians will be watching, will be supporting me. I will go out there and put the fighting spirit on,” said Svitolina.

Fellow Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko triumphed in the longest-ever tiebreak in a Grand Slam women’s singles match.

The deciding breaker stretched to a record 38 points as the 34-year-old defeated Ana Bogdan 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (20/18) having saved five match points and converting a seventh match point of her own.

Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu came back from 2-5 down in the final set to defeat Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (10/7). 

The Canadian will face last year’s runner-up Ons Jabeur.

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