The rematch of the 2018 Wimbledon final ended with another straight-sets win for Novak Djokovic.
The top-ranked player delivered what he called an “almost flawless performance” in beating Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 on Centre Court to reach the third round.
Djokovic never faced a break point and committed just six unforced errors, including one with his forehand. The Serbian star broke for 5-3 in the third set with a forehand winner before converting his second match point when Anderson sent a shot long.
It was the two-time defending champion’s 16th straight match win at Wimbledon.
Footing continued to be an issue on the third day of the tournament. Djokovic went sprawling several times, as did players in other matches and at least one ball kid. Djokovic rose from one spill muttering in frustration.
All England Lawn Tennis Club board member and former player Tim Henman defended the surfaces at Wimbledon, telling the BBC that the courts “are as good as they always have been.”
Djokovic also pointed to a lack of recent grass-court play as a reason for the poor footing.
“I think the fact that I didn’t play on grass courts for two years, the fact that I’m coming from several months of clay court that is a surface completely different in terms of movement and bounce and everything to the grass, the surface in which you slide at all times, I think I’m still adjusting my movement, adapting myself to this surface,” Djokovic said. “Hopefully as the tournament progresses I’ll also fall less, even though I don’t mind falling more if the result is winning a match.”
Djokovic is seeking his sixth Wimbledon title as well as his third in a row. By winning the championship, he would match the record total of 20 majors shared by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and would need only the US Open title to sweep all four Grand Slams in 2021.
Entering Wimbledon as the French Open champion for only the second time, Djokovic said he has learned from 2016, his last Roland Garros triumph when he was subsequently eliminated in the third round at the All England Club.
“I felt a little bit different, maybe a little bit deflated,” Djokovic said of his 2016 experience. “I don’t want to say demotivated because playing Wimbledon is always a dream for any player, including myself. I just felt slightly different than I felt before. It was the first time I experienced that kind of situation and circumstances. So this time I’m probably, I would like to think, a bit wiser and a bit more experienced as a player and person.”
John Isner was also among those tumbling Wednesday, and his Wimbledon stay is over after he played another five-setter on Court 18 but couldn’t quite create another epic.
Isner was broken in the final game to lose 7-6 (5), 2-6, 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-4 to Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan in the first round.
They were playing on the same court where Isner defeated Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set in 2010, the longest match in the history of tennis. The rules at Wimbledon have since been changed to add a tiebreaker to prevent such marathon fifth sets.
It was Nishioka’s first win at Wimbledon after losing in the first round three times.
Nick Kyrgios finished his five-set match Wednesday, knocking off No. 21 Ugo Humbert 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 9-7 to reach the second round.
The match had been halted at 3-all in the fifth set Tuesday evening because local rules prevent play past 11 p.m. When they resumed on No. 1 Court, Kyrgios broke for an 8-7 lead and then saved two break points in the final game before clinching the match with a service winner.
It was Kyrgios’ first match since the Australian Open in February, where he also beat Humbert in an entertaining five-setter.
The Australian said in an on-court interview that his performance was ”not too bad for a part-time player.” He is now 4-0 in five-set matches at Wimbledon.
Queen’s Club tournament champion Matteo Berrettini remained unbeaten on grass this season by defeating Guido Pella 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 in the first round. Hard-serving Berrettini finished with 20 aces against Pella and clinched the win with a running forehand passing shot.
The Italian, seeded seventh, became the first player to win Queen’s in his debut since Boris Becker in 1985 and is viewed as an outside contender at this year’s Wimbledon. He reached the semifinals at the 2019 US Open and is coming off a quarterfinal run at the French Open, where he lost to Djokovic.
However, Berrettini has never been past the round of 16 at the All England Club.
Former US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori also advanced. He beat Alexei Popyrin 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 for his 100th Grand Slam match win.
Denis Shapovalov reached the third round for the first time after his second-round opponent Pablo Andujar pulled out with a rib injury ahead of their match. He next faces either two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray or qualifier Oscar Otte.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.