Tim Van Rijthoven took a set off Novak Djokovic before falling to a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 ,6-2 loss in Sunday’s fourth round at Wimbledon.
The Dutch outsider said he considered the performance a win as he lost to the winner of the last three editions played at the All England Club in a match lasting just over two and a half hours which ended late into the evening.
Top seed Djokovic won his 25th straight match on grass while spoiling the unblemished 8-0 season of the challenger.
The Serb let his guard slip slightly as he dropped the second set, with Rijthoven saving four break points before Djokovic quickly regained his lethal rhythm to sweep the last two sets to victory.
“I knew coming in that it was always going to be a tough, challenging matchup against Tim, who I’ve never faced before,” the winner said.
“It was a very good fight, especially in the first two sets.
“Overall I think I’ve played very well, very solid from back of the court, reading his serve better in the third and fourth sets.”
The seed added: “I’m just really pleased with the way I closed out the match, it was a a good fight and really challenging match for me on grass.”
Djokovic next plays Italian Jannik Sinner, who needed six match points to win a tight battle of young guns over teenaged Carlos Alcaraz 6-1, 6-4, 6-7(8), 6-3 to reach a second quarter-final this season at a major.
The 20-year-old who lost in the last eight in Melbourne in January, came out ahead in the youngest Wimbledon men’s singles match-up (combined age) in the fourth round or later since 17-year-old Boris Becker defeated 21-year-old Henri Leconte in the 1985 quarters.
Sinner emerged after nearly three and three-quarter hours as the sixth Italian man to get this far at the event.
Trailing two sets to love, Alcaraz took the match into a fourth set as he saved a pair of match points in the third-set tiebreaker to win it and keep the struggle alive.
Sinner got back on top in the fourth set but still had to work from 5-2 as three more potential match-winners came and went.
He finally got over the line on his sixth chance.wide
“It’s tough when you have match points and you have to keep playing,” Sinner said. “But that is part of tennis.
“I’m happy how I reacted. In the fourth set I was struggling. I”m very happy to be in the next round.”
He added: “I didn’t expect to play so well on grass (only one prep match). But I got better with each match.”
David Goffin fought for more than four and a half hours to finally subdue Frances Tiafoe 7-6(3), 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5, with the Belgian winner sending over 18 aces and breaking the American six times.
Goffin has reached the quarter-finals here for the first time since 2019 and will play for the semis against Cam Norrie, the last man standing from six British players who started the event.
Norrie overwhelmed Tommy Paul of the US 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 with 26 winners in just under two and a half hours; it was his first time past the third round after 18 unsuccessful Grand Slam attempts.
“It’s shocking to make quarters, it was so special to play a match like that – it was huge for both of us,” Norrie said.
“I was able to execute well, I really enjoyed it. As I’m the last player left, the crowd can get behind me now even more,” said Britain;’s first men’s quarter-finalist here since Andy Murray in 2017.