Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz edged closer to a generational clash at Wimbledon on Friday as the women’s draw was down to just four seeds left in the top 10.
Three-time defending champion Djokovic demolished fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 in the third round to stay on track to tie Pete Sampras as a seven-time champion, one behind Roger’s men’s record Federer.
Friday’s win was Djokovic’s 330th career Grand Slam victory.
“So far so good,” said the 35-year-old top seed.
“I expect high standards from me. You always want to raise the bar and things are looking good.”
Djokovic has now won 22 consecutive matches on grass and is in the last 16 at Wimbledon for the 14th time.
He hasn’t lost a match on grass since falling to Marin Cilic in the final at Queen’s four years ago.
“I started very well, very strong with a lot of intensity and focus,” added Djokovic, whose only blip was broken when he served for the game at 5-2 in the third set.
In the round of 16, he will face Dutch wild card Tim van Rijthoven.
Playing in his first Grand Slam main draw, the world number 104 beat 22nd seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.
Van Rijthoven, 25, proved his prowess on grass by winning the ‘s-Hertogenbosch title last month, beating world number one Daniil Medvedev in the final.
“Before the tournament started, it was a dream for me to face Djokovic,” said Van Rijthoven, the seventh man since 2000 to reach the round of 16 on his Grand Slam debut.
“So to be able to have that chance and maybe even play on Center Court or Court 1 is beautiful and magical.”
After needing four sets to overtake Kwon Soon-woo in the first round, Djokovic has lost just 14 matches since.
If he beats Van Rijthoven, he could meet Alcaraz in the quarter-finals.
The 19-year-old Spaniard beat Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 to advance to the fourth round for the first time.
Alcaraz, who hit 37 winners in total, will face Italy’s 10th seed Jannik Sinner, who knocked out John Isner in straight sets.
The only consolation for Isner was passing Ivo Karlovic as the sport’s top ace hitter, taking his career tally to 13,748.
Britain’s ninth seed Cameron Norrie also qualified for the last 16 with a crushing 6-4, 6-1, 6-0 win over Steve Johnson.
The seeds of women are falling
Greece’s fifth-seeded Sakkari lost 6-3, 7-5 to Germany’s world number 103 Tatjana Maria, who only returned to the tour last year after maternity leave.
Maria, in the fourth round of a Slam for the first time, will face former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko for a place in the quarter-finals.
“It’s amazing, the first time in the round of 16, so it’s amazing. Winning against Sakkari today is pretty awesome,” said mother-of-two Maria.
Ostapenko, a semi-finalist at the All England Club in 2018, took his winning streak to 102 in three rounds by beating Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.
Germany’s Jule Niemeier followed up her victory over second seed Anette Kontaveit by beating Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko in three sets.
2018 champion Angelique Kerber was also out on Friday, the German 15th seed being beaten 6-4, 7-5 by Elise Mertens.
The Belgian, who had to save two match points in her previous round, next faces world number two Ons Jabeur.
Quarter-finalist in 2021, Tunisian Jabeur beat French teenager Diane Parry 6-2, 6-3.
John Isner set a new record for serving aces in his third-round clash against Jannik Sinner.
The 37-year-old American started his match against the 10th seed four aces behind Croatian Ivo Karlovic, who served 13,728.
Isner broke the record in game three with his fifth ace.
Isner, who measures 208 centimeters (6 feet 10 inches), is also in the record books for having played in the longest match in history in 2010, against Nicolas Mahut.
A plaque was unveiled outside Court 18 at Wimbledon to commemorate the contest, which lasted 11 hours and five minutes.
“Give him another plaque,” American tennis great John McEnroe told ESPN.
At the other end of the age scale, Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz is aiming for the last 16 for the first time later on Friday when he takes on Germany’s Oscar Otte.
Alcaraz needed five sets to knock out Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round before sweeping Tallon Griekspoor.
“I need more hours on the court, on the grass, to feel more comfortable,” the 19-year-old said.
Otte should be the fresher of the two.
He lost just five games in two rounds, helped by second-round opponent Christian Harrison who retired after just 15 minutes.
Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul kept the American momentum going at Wimbledon by reaching the last 16.
In all, eight American men had already reached the third round, the most at Wimbledon since 1995.
Wimbledon Friday results from day five of the 2022 Championships at the All England Club (x denotes seed):
Jack Sock (USA) v Maxime Cressy (USA) 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/1)
Jason Kubler (AUS) v Dennis Novak (AUT) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) against Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB x25) 6-0, 6-3, 6-4
Tim van Rijthoven (NED) v Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO x22) 6-4, 6-3, 6-4
Jannik Sinner (ITA x10) vs John Isner (USA x20) 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3
Carlos Alcaraz (ESP x5) v Oscar Otte (GER x32) 6-3, 6-1, 6-2
David Goffin (BEL) v Ugo Humbert (FRA) 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, 7-5
Frances Tiafoe (USA x23) v Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 3-6, 7-6 (7/1), 7-6 (7/3), 6-4
Cameron Norrie (GBR x9) v Steve Johnson (USA) 6-4, 6-1, 6-0
Tommy Paul (USA x30) v Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
Marie Bouzkova (CZE) v Alison Riske-Amritraj (USA x28) 6-2, 6-3
Caroline Garcia (FRA) against Zhang Shuai (CHN x33) 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/5)
Elise Mertens (BEL x24) against Angelique Kerber (GER x15) 6-4, 7-5
Ons Jabeur (TUN x3) against Diane Parry (FRA) 6-2, 6-3
Tatjana Maria (GER) v Maria Sakkari (GRE x5) 6-3, 7-5
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT x12) against Irina-Camelia Begu (ROM) 3-6, 6-1, 6-1
Heather Watson (GBR) v Kaja Juvan (SLO) 7-6 (8/6), 6-2
Jule Niemeier (GER) v Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3