Djokovic battles past Young at Eastbourne

The top-seeded Serb, competing during the week before Wimbledon for the first time in seven years, saved a pair of set points in the second set before finally putting Young away after a lengthy tie-break.

The Serb, competing during the week before Wimbledon for the first time in seven years, saved a pair of set points in the second set before finally putting Young away after a lengthy tie-break.   -  Reuters

Novak Djokovic overcame a spirited challenge from Donald Young, beating the American 6-2, 7-6 (11-9) on Thursday to claim the first of the semifinal places at the Eastbourne pre-Wimbledon event.

The top-seeded Serb, competing during the week before Wimbledon for the first time in seven years, saved a pair of set points in the second set before finally putting Young away after a lengthy tie-break.

The former World No. 1 is rebuilding for Wimbledon after a poor past year by his world-class standards and is pointing toward the grass-court major as an immediate goal.

Djokovic, who took a wild card into the tournament on the English south coast, is the second-highest-ranked men’s player ever to compete at Eastbourne behind then-No. 2 Marcelo Rios in 1998.

With the rest of the field a round behind after two days of rain interruptions, organisers were playing catch up and praying for better weather.

Fourth-seed and title-holder Steve Johnson finished off his contest with Italian qualifier Thomas Fabbiano, advancing 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

Second-seed Gael Monfils dispatched Briton Cameron Norrie 6-3, 6-2 while No. 3 John Isner staged a comeback to defeat Dusan Lajovic 3-6, 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/4).

Australian Bernard Tomic surprised sixth-seed Mischa Zverev 6-3, 6-2 as Richard Gasquet, seeded seventh, beat Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-4.