NOVAK Djokovic may not have been at his best last night but the Wimbledon top seed still managed to beat Tommy Haas in straight sets and secure a place in the quarter-finals.
Having seen fellow world No 1 Serena Williams felled earlier on Centre Court, the 26-year-old Serbian ensured he would not follow suit on the day in the tennis year known as ‘Manic Monday’. Djokovic won his toughest clash of the tournament 6-1 6-4 7-6 (7/4) as 35-year-old Haas provided the “big challenge” he had predicted. It had looked like it would be another easy outing for the top seed at the All England Club, with the six-time grand slam champion taking the first set in just 25 minutes.
However, world No 13 Haas responded strongly and became the first player in this tournament to break Djokovic’s serve – a feat he achieved in both the second and third sets.
However, Djokovic secured progress to a 17th consecutive grand slam quarter-final after a tie-break in the decider.
Veteran Haas was bidding to become the oldest quarter-finalist since Tom Okker in 1979 and showed great determination. Rather than wilt after a one-sided first set, the Florida-based German made his breakthrough on the Djokovic serve in the fifth game of the second set. The one-time Wimbledon semi-finalist held serve to go 4-2 up, only for Djokovic to come powering back and take the second set in 49 minutes.
Haas did his best to keep up and recovered well after losing serve, breaking back as Djokovic served for the match. It merely delayed the inevitable, as the world No 1 won the tie-break that soon followed to set up a quarter-final clash with seventh seed Tomas Berdych, a former Wimbledon finalist, who ended unseeded Bernard Tomic’s run with a 7-6(4) 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4 win.
Juan Martin del Potro, playing with his left knee heavily taped following a scary fall in the previous round, still managed to beat Andreas Seppi 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-3. The eighth-seeded Argentine will face fourth-seeded David Ferrer in the quarters.
It was a great day for the Polish contingent. Within minutes of each other, 24th seed Jerzy Janowicz and unheralded 31-year-old Lukasz Kubot reached the quarter-finals with five-set wins over Jurgen Melzer and Adrian Mannarino, respectively. Janowicz sank to his knees, Kubot can-canned his way across Court 14 in what has become his signature celebration, and one of them will be the first Polish man to reach a grand slam semi-final.