Novak Djokovic comfortably reached the last 16 at Wimbledon on Friday while Maria Sakkari became the sixth top-10 women’s seed to crash out in the first week.

Three-time defending champion Djokovic demolished Serbian compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 to stay on course to pull level with Pete Sampras as a seven-time champion, one behind Roger Federer’s men’s record.

Friday’s win was the 330th of Djokovic’s Grand Slam career.

“So far, so good,” said the 35-year-old top seed after beating a player who described him as his “idol”.

“I expect high standards from myself. You always want to raise the level and things are shaping up well.”

Waiting in the fourth round is Dutch wild card Tim van Rijthoven.

Playing in his debut Grand Slam main draw, the world number 104 defeated 22nd seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

The 25-year-old Van Rijthoven proved his prowess on grass by winning the ‘s-Hertogenbosch title last month, defeating world number one Daniil Medvedev in the final.

“Before the tournament started, it was a dream for me to play Djokovic,” said Van Rijthoven, only the seventh man since 2000 to reach the round of 16 on his Grand Slam debut.

“So, to be able to have that chance and to maybe even play on Centre Court or Court 1 is beautiful and magical.”

MARIA Sakkari of Greece hits a return to Germany’s Tatjana Maria during their third-round match at Wimbledon on Friday.

Greek fifth seed Sakkari lost 6-3, 7-5 to German world number 103 Tatjana Maria, who only returned to the tour last year after maternity leave.

Maria, in the fourth round of a Slam for the first time, will face former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko for a place in the quarter-finals.

“It feels amazing, first time in the last 16, so that’s amazing. To win against Sakkari today, it’s pretty awesome,” said mother-of-two Maria.

Ostapenko, a semi-finalist at the All England Club in 2018, took her winners count to 102 over three rounds by defeating Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.

Germany’s Jule Niemeier followed up her win over second seed Anette Kontaveit by seeing off Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko in three sets.

Also exiting Friday was 2018 champion Angelique Kerber, with the German 15th seed beaten 6-4, 7-5 by Elise Mertens.

The Belgian, who had to save two match points in her previous round, next faces world number two Ons Jabeur.

A quarter-finalist in 2021, Tunisia’s Jabeur breezed past French teenager Diane Parry 6-2, 6-3.

In the men’s draw, three Americans advanced — one to the third round and two to the fourth.

Qualifier Jack Sock finished off a 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-1) victory over another American, Maxime Cressy, in a match that was suspended Thursday after the second set. That made him the eighth American man to reach the third round, the most at any Grand Slam tournament since 1996.

Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul were also among those eight, and they already earned themselves a spot in the fourth round.

The 23rd-seeded Tiafoe, who is making his fifth appearance at the All England Club, beat Alexander Bublik 3-6, 7-6 (7-1), 7-6 (7-3), 6-4. Paul, seeded 30th, defeated Jiri Vesely 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

Another one of those Americans, John Isner, set a men’s tour ace record.

The 20th-seeded Isner hit ace No. 13,729 to break the ATP tour record held by Ivo Karlovic of Croatia. He set the record during the third game of his third-round match against Jannik Sinner on No. 2 Court.

On Thursday, world number one Iga Swiatek and men’s second seed Rafa Nadal failed to live up to their usual high standards but still found a way to confirm their places in the third round of Wimbledon with gritty performances.

A misfiring Swiatek found her range in the decider to beat Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 and extend her winning streak to 37 matches, while Nadal kept his hopes of a calendar Slam alive with a 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win over Ricardas Berankis.

There was delight in store for the home fans as Liam Broady took out Argentine 12th seed Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 4-6, 0-6, 7-6 (7-6), 6-1 to reach the third round of the grasscourt major for the first time.

Seeds on the men’s side continued to tumble as Denis Shapovalov, a semi-finalist last year, exited the tournament on the back of a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (8-6) defeat by American youngster Brandon Nakashima.

However, it was plain sailing for former women’s champion Simona Halep who saw off Kirsten Flipkens 7-5, 6-4, while Coco Gauff once again reminded the Centre Court crowd of her immense talent with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu.


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