If there is any weakness to be exploited in Novak Djokovic’s arsenal, his procession into Wimbledon’s quarter-finals failed to offer a single glimpse. That might usually be the result of the defending champion’s relentless pursuit of perfection, but on this occasion, his opponent simply lacked the flair or firepower to provide any scrutiny.
This was a waltz from the first to the last that rarely amounted to more than a warm-up, and that should not be taken so much as a slight against Garin, the No 17 seed playing the first fourth-round grand slam match, but as further evidence of how difficult it will be to prevent Djokovic from a third successive Wimbledon title, and the promise of an unprecedented Golden Slam.
He will face Martin Fucsovics in the quarter-finals, who should in theory provide a sterner test. Regardless, though, the chasm in quality against Garin was at times astonishing, with Djokovic reducing a world-class player to something closer to a wide-eyed novice. It has often been the Serbian’s endurance that has been most impressive, toiling breathlessly after every ball, but here he was able to dictate in slow-motion, moving Garin across the baseline like a master puppeteer, dispatching winners with dismissive swats.
If Djokovic fails to equal Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s grand slam record this week it would qualify as an almighty shock. That much was clear before the tournament began and has only hardened in reality. Ten years on from his first Wimbledon title, it can be easy to overlook the feats of his supremacy. Djokovic is one week younger than Andy Murray, yet as one flame flickers, the Serbian’s fire is burning more fiercely than ever and is ravaging the competition.
It became clear almost immediately that Garin would not provide any serious jeopardy. The 25-year-old had benefitted from a kind draw to reach the fourth round and had no previous experience to lean on when walking out onto a packed Centre Court that was permitted to return to full capacity on Monday. The Chilean’s opening service game began with a tame double fault and was followed by two limp forehands into the net as Djokovic won eight successive points without breaking a sweat. There was little in the way of the spectacular, only a steady stream of quality that Garin had no answer for as the pressure took its toll. The crowd attempted to rally him, cheering his every point with exaggerated enthusiasm, but those eruptions of noise were few and far between. By the time Djokovic broke for a second time and claimed the first set, Garin had won a total of just nine points.
Garin’s nerves did eventually subside in the second set and, perhaps, Djokovic’s level dipped subconsciously, too, with a series of uncharacteristic errors offering two break points. But those heights were as far as Garin would reach, the threat acting as a wake-up call as Djokovic switched gears to break serve himself and the third was little more than a procession. That is a theme with which this tournament and tennis as a whole are by now intimately familiar. It will take something truly momentous to topple his throne.
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