Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova restored order to a shaken Wimbledon on Friday, imposing brutal authority on their battered opponents a day after Rafa Nadal's exit at the hands of maverick journeyman Dustin Brown.
Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova restored order to a shaken Wimbledon on Friday, imposing brutal authority on their battered opponents a day after Rafa Nadal’s exit at the hands of maverick journeyman Dustin Brown.
Any danger that Brown’s victory would spark an uprising was swiftly quashed as Djokovic turned executioner to dispatch a beleaguered Bernard Tomic 6-3 6-3 6-3 and Sharapova polished off Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu.
Neither of the defeated duo gave even a hint that they could match up to the dread-locked Brown’s all-action heroics which sent ripples through the All the England Club’s hallowed grounds less than 24 hours earlier.
Djokovic has yet to drop a set and has barely broken sweat in reaching the last 16, and at times in his victory over Tomic, his gymnastic defence was at its jaw-dropping and ligament-stretching best.
When the Serb is scrambling from left to right on the baseline and retrieving everything that comes back onto his side of the net, you half expect his battered opponent to throw in the towel.
To Tomic’s credit, he scrapped and battled to the bitter end but the 27th seed looked a relieved man to escape from a sun-baked Centre Court when Djokovic, chasing a third Wimbledon title, smacked down his 15th ace to close out the match.
Such was Djokovic’s dominance, his opponent might have suspected the world number one of having an extra limb — and not the prosthetic one he was handed to sign by an eager fan at the end.
“This gentleman gave me his artificial leg and my signature will make him feel better,” he quipped, before giving his future opponents a warning as to his current form.
“I was hoping I could play better and better as the tournament progresses and that is what is happening. As we are moving on, I feel more confident.”
It was a similarly one-sided story on Court One where Sharapova eased past Begu 6-4 6-3.
Barring a brief wobble in the second set when the Russian was broken serving for the match at 5-1, it was a straightforward day at the office for Sharapova, who knows what it takes to lift the trophy having claimed the title in 2004.
“There is only one champion in the end and the one who raises their game is the champion,” she said.
Early birds at Wimbledon would have sighted some of the sport’s most picture-perfect backhands under the mastery of their proponents Stan Wawrinka, Richard Gasquet and Grigor Dimitrov.
French Open champion Wawrinka has made a habit of scything through the early undergrowth of grand slams almost unnoticed and continued his seamless progress with a 6-4 6-3 6-4 victory over Fernando Verdasco in the opening match on Court One.
At the same time on Centre, Gasquet and Dimitrov squared up in a true battle of sublime backhands with Frenchman Gasquet finding his range to send the misfiring Bulgarian packing 6-3 6-4 6-4.
There were predictable fireworks as Nick Kyrgios moved into the next round, beating Milos Raonic 5-7 7-5 7-6 6-3 while arguing with a member of the crowd and falling foul of Wimbledon’s dress code.
The Australian hot head had a minor altercation with a woman who thought he was telling him to ‘pull your head in’ and was told to turn around his headband which flouted Wimbledon’s strict all-white rule.