Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic waltzes through to quarterfinals

The three-time champion defeats Russia's Karen Khachanov 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.

Novak Djokovic will next face Japan's Kei Nishikori.   -  AFP

Novak Djokovic reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the 10th time with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win over Russia's Karen Khachanov.

“He's got weapons, a big serve and a big forehand,” said Djokovic of the World No. 40.

“I got a lot of first serves in, made him hit the extra ball. I served well when I needed to. It was difficult in the last few games. It was dark so I couldn't see the ball that well and it was very windy.”

Three-time champion Djokovic, seeded 12, will next face Japan's 24th seed Kei Nishikori. It will be Djokovic's 41st appearance in a Grand Slam quarterfinal and he will start favourite against Nishikori who will be in his first last-eight at the All England Club.

Former World No. 1 Djokovic has a 13-2 winning record against the Japanese player.

'Big war'

Nishikori overcame a right arm injury to reach his first Wimbledon quarterfinal with a gritty 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (12/10), 6-1 win over Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis. “It's always like a big war for me when I play Novak. I always enjoy playing against him,” said Nishikori, who has beaten the Serb just twice in 15 meetings.

Although the two have never met on grass, Nishikori is still hamstrung by the knowledge that the last of his two wins against the Serb was in 2014 in a memorable semifinal victory at the US Open.

'One of the best'

“Maybe I don’t have good results or good record with him, but I always enjoy playing him.He’s one of the best players on the tour,” Nishikori said.

Adding to Nishikori’s problems is a worrying right arm injury which required extensive treatment and a medical time-out in his win over Gulbis, the man who had put out fourth seed Alezander Zverev in the third round. “My elbow was bothering me little bit,” admitted Nishikori. “From the second, it got better and I just tried to stay calm and fight every game.”

Djokovic's match against Nishikori will fall on the first anniversary of him having to retire from his 2017 quarterfinal against Tomas Berdych with an elbow injury. That precipitated a lengthy absence from the tour and a worrying dip in form and confidence. However, the 31-year-old has looked back to something approaching his best at Wimbledon. “I like my chances against Nishikori,” said Djokovic.

'Physically, mentally ready'

He added: “I played very well in Queen’s (where he finished runner-up) coming into Wimbledon. I haven’t spent too much time on the court. I feel physically, mentally ready, fit, positive.”

Djokovic’s run to the Queen’s final on the eve of Wimbledon was his first appearance in a championship match since Eastbourne almost 12 months earlier. That was a boost after a shock quarterfinal exit at the French Open to World No. 72 Marco Cecchinato of Italy.

“I didn’t feel comfortable on the court for long time. Indian Wells, Miami, most of the clay court season,” added Djokovic.

“I just had to go back to basics and hit as many balls as I can on the practice courts, just get that feel. Also psychologically obviously, I was so fortunate to have so much success on the tour over the course of 10-plus years. I was top three player for so many years in a row, it was quite a strange feeling for me not to be able to deliver my game. But things are looking much better in the last month and a half.”

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