Argentina’s Guido Pella celebrates winning his third round match against South Africa’s Kevin Anderson (Reuters)
Argentine Guido Pella pulled off a major upset at Wimbledon on Friday, beating fourth seed and 2018 finalist Kevin Anderson in straight sets to reach the last-16 of a Grand Slam for the first time.
The 29-year-old, who beat the big-serving South African 6-4 6-3 7-6(4), will play Canada’s Milos Raonic next for a place in the quarter-finals.
“I don’t know how to describe this moment,” an emotional Pella said. “This match was unbelievable for me. I was focused the entire match and it was amazing.
“My mind is in the right place. I’m playing much more aggressively than previous years. I’m confident. I just need to continue to fight for every point.
“To be in the second week is an unbelievable feeling.”
Anderson, runner-up to Novak Djokovic last year, arrived at the All England Club after an injury-hit season due to a troublesome right elbow and his serve-and-volley game was derailed by a lack of sharpness at key moments.
Pella, the 26th seed, made a nervy start, saving two break points in his opening service game on Centre Court before settling into his stride.Advertisement
He kept the 6ft 8in (2.03 metres) Anderson, the tallest man to play a Wimbledon final, guessing with a dizzying array of shots, including his backhand slice, and made 13 unforced errors compared to 29 from his opponent.
There was little to choose between the two in the opening set until Anderson’s first serve deserted him with the score level at 5-5.
Anderson had reached the third round without his serve being broken, but Pella turned the screws at the right moment, converting his fourth set point to claim the opener when the South African netted a forehand.Advertisement
That rattled Anderson, who came out swinging at the start of the second set, but the 33-year-old’s timing was off and Pella broke again to race into a 3-0 lead.
Anderson clawed a break back when Pella sent a backhand volley wide with the court at his mercy, but the Argentine broke again and served out the set to take a 2-0 lead.
Anderson, who hit 14 aces and 40 winners, fought on grimly to send the third set into a tiebreak, but Pella kept his composure, winning a stunning exchange of volleys that brought the crowd to its feet to earn two match points before claiming the biggest win of his career.
Djokovic survives hurricane Hurkacz to reach last 16
When Novak Djokovic stood with hand on hip midway through the second-set tiebreak, glaring down at young Polish upstart Hubert Hurkacz, he could scarcely believe the drama unfolding before his eyes in his third-round Wimbledon showdown on Friday.
The world number one was caught up by hurricane Hurkacz as he came off second best in all the razzle-dazzle shots the 22-year-old could throw at him and he was also banned from wearing his baseball cap by the umpire as it fell foul of Wimbledon’s all-white rules.Advertisement
However, Djokovic is not known as Mr Consistency for nothing and he survived all the hullabaloo to reach the last 16 for the 12th time at the grasscourt major with a 7-5 6-7(5) 6-1 6-4 win.
“For the opposition, he is sickeningly consistent,” summed up American great John McEnroe.
“He isn’t flashy, he doesn’t play with the same intensity point in point out as (Rafa) Nadal does, his shots are not as beautiful as (Roger) Federer’s — but rock solid is an understatement. He is so efficient.”
That efficiency has earned Djokovic 74 titles, including 15 majors, and more than $130 million in prize money.
Hurkacz, on the other hand, can only dream of such riches or records as his trophy cabinet lies empty while his bank balance would be considered loose change in Djokovic’s pocket.Advertisement
Playing the Serbian for the second time at a major in five weeks, the world number 48 was expected to roll over in straight sets, just as he had done at Roland Garros.
But when the top seed was told by umpire Carlos Bernardes to remove his baseball cap midway through the first set, for a while it looked like he had been shorn of his super-powers as he missed three break points in the sixth game.
“Last match on Centre Court, I played with the hat. The same hat I took out now, I was not able to play with it,” Djokovic, the only top-10 seed left in the top half of the draw, said with a shrug.
The four-times champion eventually broke for a 6-5 lead but not before Hurkacz had offered a glimpse of what was to come in the second set as he acrobatically fell to his stomach and his racket went flying while chasing down a Djokovic dropshot.
Hurkacz raised his fist to the roaring Court One crowd when he gave Djokovic the run-around during a delightful, 29-shot exchange that culminated with a sliced forehand winner in the third game of the second.
The hollering fans were on their feet again when he earned a set point at 6-5 up on Djokovic’s serve with a brilliant diving winner that would have made Boris Becker proud.
The crowd groaned when he fluffed the next point but the thrills kept on coming in the tiebreak as he finished off a 30-stroke rally by punching away a volley as he fell into the splits.
Djokovic simply could not believe the audacious shots that kept flying his way and he would have been even less pleased when Hurkacz levelled the match on this third set point with a blazing crosscourt winner.
But, as the Pole found out to his dismay in double quick time, winning even one set against one of tennis’s Big Three sucks up an enormous amount of energy.
To win three is nigh on impossible during the first week of a major and so it proved. Hurkacz’s challenge fizzled out in the next two sets as he discovered that while the heart was willing, the tiring legs could not keep up.
“Djokovic sets the bar so high. You have to play the match of your life just to stay in it. Hurkacz played exceptionally well, he just didn’t have enough in the tank,” added McEnroe.Also ReadWatch: Jannik Sinner wins a 46-shot rally against Tommy PaulNovak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz set to meet again in group stage of Dav...Does Steffi Graf ever age? Husband Andre Agassi has the perfect reply'Never been friends, never been close to Roger Federer': Novak Djokovic s...
After dropping his first set at this year’s championships, the Serb will be looking to do better when he meets France’s Ugo Humbert on Monday.