Preview: Can Kokkinakis ‘Pull A Federer’ Against Djokovic?

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With the first round in the books at Wimbledon, Wednesday’s men’s singles play begins with 64 players still standing in their quest for Grand Slam glory. The top half of the draw — which completed play on Tuesday following a rainy Day 1 — is back in action for the second round, with top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic set to open play on Centre Court against Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Andy Murray will face 20th seed John Isner on the show court, while his countryman Cameron Norrie — the ninth seed and British No. 1 — faces Jaume Munar on Court 1. Third seed Casper Ruud is also in action against Ugo Humbert as he looks to build on his breakthrough run to the Roland Garros final, while fifth seed Carlos Alcaraz takes on Tallon Griekspoor. analyses some of the matches to watch on Day 3.

Novak Djokovic

[1] Novak Djokovic (SER) vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS)
After battling past Soonwoo Kwon in four tricky sets on Monday, Djokovic can expect another stern test from Kokkinakis — a man whose recent form and powerful game provide a credible threat, particularly on the slick grass courts.

Following a three-set win against Kamil Majchrzak in the opening round, the Aussie will swing freely against the top seed on Centre Court. Kokkinakis has already shown he can beat the game’s best on the biggest stages — he stunned then-World No. 1 Roger Federer at the 2018 Miami Open presented by Itau, and beat then-World No. 6 Milos Raonic at The Queen’s Club in 2017.

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Djokovic is 1-0 in his ATP Head2Head against Kokkinakis, but that match came on the clay of Roland Garros in 2015. The 26-year-old Aussie reached a career-high of No. 69 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings that season, and is now back up to No. 79 after spending time outside the Top 250 last year.

Kokkinakis won his first ATP Tour title in January in his hometown of Adelaide and has since reached the fourth round in Miami and the quarter-finals in Geneva. He also won the Australian Open doubles title alongside Nick Kyrgios to put an exclamation mark on the Aussie summer swing.

Another slow start for Djokovic could give Kokkinakis all the confidence he needs to pull off the upset. The Serbian dropped the second set in his first-round victory against Kwon, but left Centre Court pleased with his performance in his first grass-court match of the season.

“I did not start or play my best, but I think when I needed to find the right shots, I did,” he assessed. “I think [my] serve got me out of trouble in some decisive moments. I know I can do better. But for the first match, I’m pleased and I’ll keep going.”

It’s the third straight year in which the Serbian has not played any grass events in the buildup to Wimbledon. But he’s proved his ability to quickly adapt and now owns a 22-match winning streak on the London lawns as a three-time defending champion.

Novak Djokovic

Djokovic’s Wimbledon Success Years
Champion 6 (2011, 2014-15, 2018-19, 2021)
Finalist 1 (2013)
Semi-finalist 3 (2007, 2010, 2012)

Andy Murray (GBR) vs. [20] John Isner (USA)

After an abdominal injury forced Murray’s withdrawal from Queen’s Club and put his Wimbledon in doubt, the Briton came through his opening-round match unscathed on Centre Court.

“In the match today it was absolutely fine,” Murray said after his 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win over James Duckworth, adding that an ultrasound scan just before the tournament came back all clear.

Murray was less pleased with his returning early in the match, but was able to turn it around as he improved in that aspect. The two-time Wimbledon champion’s return will again be crucial against the big-serving Isner, who could pass Ivo Karlovic for the all-time ace record on Wednesday. The American is just 40 aces behind Karlovic’s record 13,728 after firing 54 in a five-set opening win against Enzo Couacaud.

One of the game’s great returners, Murray has had success blunting Isner’s standout strength and owns an 8-0 ATP Head2Head record against the 20th seed. He’s had similar results against many of the ATP Tour’s biggest servers.

“I don’t know exactly why my record is as it is against those guys,” he said. “They’re obviously very tough players to play against because of the nature of how the matches go. You’re not necessarily always in control of them. You can go four or five service return games where you’re not getting any opportunities. There’s not always lots of rhythm in the match, so it’s difficult.

“But for whatever reason I’ve always played well against them. The matchups have been good for me. I played well against John in the past… I’ll need to play really well and certainly return a bit better than I did tonight if I want to get through that.”


Murray’s most recent meeting with Isner came in a three-set final at the 2016 Rolex Paris Masters. They have met three times at majors, but never on grass.

Isner achieved his best Grand Slam result at Wimbledon in 2018, when he reached the semi-finals before falling just short against Kevin Anderson in a 26-24 fifth set. Such extended finales are not possible this fortnight due to the newly introduced 10-point tie-break at the conclusion of final sets.

[5] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) vs. Tallon Griekspoor (NED)
Playing his first match since the Roland Garros quarter-finals, Alcaraz escaped a five-set battle with Jan-Lennard Struff to return to the Wimbledon second round. The Spaniard twice came from behind in a 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 victory, improving throughout the four-hour, 11-minute match against the aggressive German.

“I would say to play four hours on grass is tougher than the other surface, even if there are not long rallies,” Alcaraz said, noting his challenges with movement on the lawns. “I’m going to compare, [a] long rally here is like three or four long rallies on other surfaces. So for me it’s tougher to play a marathon match on grass than the other surfaces.”


As he continues to learn his way, Alcaraz does not consider himself a favourite at Wimbledon. But he’s not counting himself out.

“Obviously if I play well, I have the level to win the tournament,” he said. “But there are a lot of more experienced player on grass, more players play better on grass than me. I don’t feel the pressure.”

Alcaraz has yet to face World No. 53 Griekspoor. The 25-year-old entered Wimbledon at a career-high in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and notched a four-set win over Fabio Fognini in the first round. He has reached three tour-level quarter-finals this season, most recently last week in Mallorca.

Also In Action
Home favourite Norrie will play the lone men’s match on Court 1 against Munar, with both men reaching the second round courtesy of straight-sets wins. The Briton has reached the third round at each of the four Grand Slams — including last year at Wimbledon — and is seeking his first trip beyond that stage this fortnight.

Norway’s Ruud picked up his first Wimbledon win on Monday against Albert Ramos-Vinolas. His straight-sets progress will leave him fresh to face Humbert, who went the distance in the opening round against Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

Tenth seed Jannik Sinner also scored his first Wimbledon win this fortnight, beating Stan Wawrinka in a match that doubled as the first grass-court victory of his young career. The 20-year-old Italian faces Mikael Ymer on Wednesday.

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