LONDON • Top seed and reigning champion Novak Djokovic pulled off a great escape at Wimbledon in beating South African Kevin Anderson 6-7 (6-8), 6-7 (6-8), 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 yesterday to reach his 25th successive Grand Slam quarter-final.
In a match spanning two days, with the world No. 1 losing the first two sets to the 14th-seeded giant before clawing back to level in fading light on Monday, Djokovic walked away mightily relieved.
"I was two sets down, to come back and win in five gives me great satisfaction and confidence for the next challenge," he said after normal order was restored.
"He served exceptionally well. This was one of the most difficult matches I have played at Wimbledon and maybe in my career. At times, I was really helpless with my returns. He was very aggressive."
The players had walked out to cheers from the crowd but the entry proved premature, with umbrellas going up and the rain covers pulled across Court 1 as the pair returned to the locker room.
WIMBLEDON, 4th rd (selected)
Men: Richard Gasquet (Fra) bt Nick Kyrgios (Aus) 7-5 6-1 6-7 (7 -9) 7-6 (8 -6), Vasek Pospisil (Can) bt Viktor Troicki (Srb) 4-6 6-7 (4 -7) 6-4 6-3 6-3.
Women: Garbine Muguruza Blanco (Esp) bt Caroline Wozniacki (Den) 6-4 6-4, Victoria Azarenka (Blr) bt Belinda Bencic (Sui) 6-2 6-3, Timea Bacsinszky (Sui) bt Monica Niculescu (Rom) 1-6 7-5 6-2, Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol) bt Jelena Jankovic (Srb) 7-5 6-4, Maria Sharapova (Rus) bt Zarina Diyas (Kaz) 6-4 6-4, Serena Williams (USA) bt Venus Williams (USA) 6-4 6-3, Coco Vandeweghe (USA) bt Lucie Safarova (Cze) 7-6(7 -1) 7-6 (7-4), Madison Keys (USA) bt Olga Govortsova (Blr) 3-6 6-4 6-1.
When the match eventually re-started, 16 hours and 33 minutes after the last point had been played, Djokovic was immediately back in the line of fire of Anderson's bullet-like serves.
The Serb had to save two break points in the fourth game, holding serve for 2-2, with Anderson keeping up the pressure by rattling through the next game without dropping a point.
Anderson eventually paid a heavy price for his all-or-nothing tack as he tried to break through into a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time in 26 bids.
He served up two double faults to go match points down in the 12th game and Djokovic secured victory when the South African bungled a volley off a blistering service return by the top seed.
Djokovic, who has now reached 25 Grand Slam quarter-finals in a row, goes on to face Croatia's US Open champion Marin Cilic for a place in the semi-finals.
The Serb will be the overwhelming favourite for that match today - he leads their head-to-head 12-0.
The Wimbledon championships came to a brief standstill yesterday as tennis-goers paused to remember the London bombings a decade ago, which killed 52 people.
The start of play on the outside courts was put back by 45 minutes from 11am to facilitate the observance of the national minute's silence at 11.30am.
Flags were flying at half-mast around the grounds in suburban Wimbledon, where around 40,000 people were expected to pass through the gates.
Around 50 police and fire officers, security staff, medics and first-aid volunteers stood to attention at the foot of the Aorangi Terrace picnic hill. Tennis-goers on the slope spontaneously stood while others walking around the grounds also came to a stop.
In the women's singles quarter-finals, world No. 4 Maria Sharapova advanced after a hard-fought 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2 win over American Coco Vandeweghe.
REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Day 9: Men's singles q-finals
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