Wimbledon 2021: Novak Djokovic produces vintage display to dispatch Kevin Anderson in straight sets
Five-time champion Novak Djokovic eased past Kevin Anderson 6-3 6-3 6-3 at Wimbledon on Centre Court in a repeat of the 2018 final, to continue his bid for a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam men's singles title
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 30/06/21 10:55pm
Novak Djokovic continued his bid for a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam singles title with a comprehensive straight-sets victory over big-serving South African Kevin Anderson in the second round at Wimbledon.
The world No 1 produced a virtually flawless display to dispatch the former world No 5 in a repeat of the 2018 final, closing out a 6-3 6-3 6-3 success in 1 hour and 41 minutes on Centre Court.
Djokovic survived an early fright against 19-year-old British wildcard Jack Draper in round one, relinquishing the opening set before underlining his dominance to prevail in four sets.
Nevertheless, the Serb was untroubled against the imposing Anderson - making just six unforced errors and winning 85 per cent of points on his first serve, advancing without facing a solitary break point.
"I'm very pleased [with my performance], Kevin is a terrific player and very dangerous on grass courts," Djokovic said on court afterwards.
"I thought that I held my serve really comfortably and I was using the angles really well from the back of the court.
"One of the tactical goals today was to try and make as few unforced errors as possible from my end of the court. I wanted to play solid [tennis] and not be too risky out there.
"I've done much better than I thought I would do, I mean I believe in myself, but that was an almost flawless performance today. I'm very, very pleased," he added.
The defending champion was in merciless mood as he romped to the opening set in 32 minutes, but his biggest concern in the early exchanges was the Centre Court surface.
Following the withdrawals of Serena Williams and Adrian Mannarino on Tuesday, the world No 1 twice lost his footing in the opening set - throwing his arms up in exasperation on the second occasion.
However, the 34-year-old produced a sequence of 10 consecutive points from 3-3 to wrap up the opener, sealing it with a delightful whipped forehand winner.
The second set followed an almost identical pattern. Anderson regained his poise as the opening six games all went with serve, only for Djokovic to put his foot on the accelerator at three apiece.
The top seed won 9 out of 12 points on Anderson's second serve in set two, and he sealed the all-important break in the seventh game, clipping the line with an audacious lob over his 6ft 6in opponent.
Anderson was unable to fashion any break opportunities on Djokovic's serve, and the world No 1's relentless returning saw him double his advantage courtesy of a second consecutive break.
The South African continued to battle valiantly, but at 4-3 adrift in the third, he missed three consecutive first serves and Djokovic duly capitalised.
Anderson responded with back-to-back aces to save two break points, only to be undone by a brilliant Djokovic passing winner, as the world No 1 wrapped up his straight-sets progression with a regulation hold moments later.
The 19-time Grand Slam champion is aiming to equal his great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have both won 20, and become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the calendar-year grand slam.
Djokovic has won his last 16 Grand Slam matches, and he will look to extend that streak when he takes on Denis Kudla for a place in the fourth round, after the American defeated former top-20 player Andreas Seppi in straight sets.
Fifth seed Andrey Rublev also breezed past a South African opponent in straight sets, defeating Lloyd Harris 6-1 6-2 7-5 in just 82 minutes to reach the third-round at Wimbledon for the first time in his career.
Earlier in the day, seventh seed Matteo Berrettini kicked off his campaign with a four-set victory over 2019 quarter-finalist Guido Pella on Court 3.
The big-hitting Italian fired down 20 aces and produced 47 winners as he extended his winning streak on grass to six matches, despite relinquishing the second set against the Argentine.
There was little to separate the pair midway through the third set, but Berrettini's class shone in the latter stages, as he reeled off eight games without reply to prevail 6-4 3-6 6-4 6-0 in 2 hours and 16 minutes.
Nick Kyrgios marked his first appearance since February's Australian Open with a thrilling five-set victory over Halle champion Ugo Humbert on No.1 Court.
Kyrgios ironically defeated Humbert in Melbourne earlier this year, and he recovered from a nasty fall in the closing stages to triumph 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-1 9-7 against the 21st seed.
Two-time quarter-finalist Kei Nishikori produced a clinical display to defeat Alexei Popyrin, prevailing 6-4 6-4 6-4 to reach the second round and secure his 100th Grand Slam win in the process.
Elsewhere, 11th seed Pablo Carreno Busta was beaten 7-6 (6) 6-4 7-5 by 2017 semi-finalist Sam Querrey, while 28th seed John Isner succumbed against Yoshihito Nishioka in a five-set epic, despite registering an incredible 87 winners.