Home » Popyrin pushes Djoker again, but leaves Demon as only Aussie standing at Wimbledon

Popyrin pushes Djoker again, but leaves Demon as only Aussie standing at Wimbledon

Popyrin pushes Djoker again, but leaves Demon as only Aussie standing at Wimbledon

But the tiebreaker quickly got away from him, and he is still yet to advance further than the third round at any major, but his mature display against Djokovic was a strong sign he is closing the gap to the world’s elite.

Djokovic has won 37 of his past 38 matches on the All England club’s grasscourts, and looks a genuine threat to win an eighth title in London, exactly one month after knee surgery.

His come-from-behind triumph avoided him following Polish top seed Iga Swiatek out of the tournament after Yulia Putintseva threw the women’s title race into chaos with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 triumph. Coco Gauff, 2022 champion Elena Rybakina and Jasmine Paolini are the only top-10 seeds left.

It is a continuation of Swiatek’s comparatively wretched Wimbledon record despite her being the WTA Tour’s clear best player. The five-time major champion’s quarter-final effort last year remains her deepest run.

De Minaur hailed Pouille’s “class act” of telling him about his abdominal issue two hours before they were due to play.

He is one win from his first Wimbledon quarter-final, which would propel him three places to a career-high live ranking of No.6 and ever closer to the top-five goal he shared with this masthead in March this year.

Alex de Minaur is through to the fourth round at Wimbledon for the second time.

Alex de Minaur is through to the fourth round at Wimbledon for the second time.Credit: AP

Pouille, who is on the comeback trail from elbow surgery, sought treatment for an abdominal issue after the first set in the last round against Thanasi Kokkinakis, but was leading 2-6, 7-5, 5-2 when the big South Australian pulled out with a left knee injury.

The 212th-ranked Frenchman qualified for this year’s tournament but reached the quarter-finals in 2016 and was ranked as high as No.10 six years ago.

Djokovic looms as de Minaur’s likely last-eight opponent if he can avenge a defeat to Arthur Fils on Barcelona’s clay from April.

The French up-and-comer followed his upset of seventh-seeded Hubert Hurkacz with a 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 defeat of Russian Roman Safiullin, a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon last year.

“Fils is coming with a lot of confidence, obviously beating Hubi, which is a very good win on this surface,” de Minaur said. “He’s got a big game, big groundstrokes. In previous years, I probably wouldn’t have thought he would have enjoyed the grass as much.

“But he’s obviously enjoying it quite well, and feeling comfortable on it, so he’s going to be very tricky – he’s got a great serve as well, and he’s an overall great athlete.”

De Minaur’s only previous fourth-round appearance at the grasscourt major two years ago ended in a heartbreaking defeat from two sets and match point up against Cristian Garin.

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But he has improved greatly since then and reached the Roland-Garros quarter-finals for the first time last month amid what is comfortably his career-best season.

The ninth-seeded Sydneysider won his second title of the year at s’Hertogenbosch in Holland after his Paris result before a shock first-round defeat at Queen’s Club to eventual finalist Lorenzo Musetti left him with almost two weeks to prepare for Wimbledon.

De Minaur spent extra time on court and running in the gym on Saturday once the Pouille news filtered through, but was unconcerned about potentially not being battle-hardened enough.

“Over previous years, I do feel like the first week of a slam is about doing anything you can to stay alive, then once you’re able to get through that first week, I feel like it’s a completely new tournament,” he said.

“It’s when everything starts to click, you start to feel more comfortable with the conditions, the atmosphere, the balls, your tennis, your game itself. It’s when you’ve got to bring your A-game because you’re getting to the deep end of these tournaments, playing the best players in the world.

“This is where I’ve wanted to be. I used to do really well in the lower-ranked tournaments, the 250s, and I’ve always wanted to take the next step, and … going deep at grand slams is definitely part of the journey, so getting to the second week is a great start, and I’m looking forward to hopefully pushing for more.”

Kokkinakis’ strength-and-conditioning coach, Jona Segal, confirmed to this masthead that the South Australian appears to have dodged a serious injury and is on track to return ahead of the US Open.

He suffered a nasty-looking knee injury when he slipped on the grass during his second-round match against Pouille, with his right foot sliding out before his left leg crumbled underneath him – but the prognosis is relatively good.

“Thanasi looks to have a moderate grade MCL [medial collateral ligament] sprain that should see him back in time for most, if not all, of the US hardcourt swing,” Segal said.

Thanasi Kokkinakis was emotional after suffering another injury setback.

Thanasi Kokkinakis was emotional after suffering another injury setback.Credit: Getty Images

The United States hardcourt season begins in Atlanta late this month – where Kokkinakis had planned to play until this setback – and runs until the US Open, which starts on August 26.

Kokkinakis first sprained the MCL in the same knee in a fall on Surbiton’s grass two years ago, but also had a pre-Wimbledon scare when he hurt himself in similar fashion at Queen’s Club.

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Marc McGowan is at Wimbledon with the support of Tennis Australia.

Watch Wimbledon 2024 from July 1 live and exclusively free on Nine and 9Now with every match streaming ad-free, live and on demand with centre court in 4K on Stan Sport.

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