Three-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic narrowly avoided becoming the victim of another scheduling nightmare at the All England Club by downing Karen Khachanov in rapid fashion to book his spot in the quarter-finals.
It was so nearly a case of deja vu for the 12-time Grand Slam winner, who was forced to play against Adrian Mannarino on Tuesday in 2017 after Wimbledon chiefs dawdled over making a decision whether to move their match to an empty Centre Court.
Inexplicably this time around, having waited patiently all day to get on court, Jamie Murray and Victoria Azarenkas mixed doubles match was moved to the showpiece court before the conclusion of Gael Monfils and Kevin Andersons match.
Fortunately for schedulers, Anderson wrapped up the victory in four sets a matter of minutes later – avoiding a potentially embarrassing scenario.
With no roof on Court 1, Djokovic still needed to act quickly to get his match done – which wasnt necessarily easy given the gusty conditions – and he put Khachanov to the sword with a 6-4 6-2 6-2 win to set up a quarter-final clash with Kei Nishikori.
After the match, he confessed his delight at avoiding playing back-to-back matches on Tuesday and Wednesday and also his own performance.
When you have to face it, obviously the only thing you can do is try to find whats best that you can rely on from inside, he said in his post-match press conference.
The external, so to say, conditions, factors are there for both players, so you cant really affect the natural occurrence, the wind, rain or dark or light. It is what is. So you just have to kind of accept it.
Even though it is a big challenge, you know, its not easy to kind of get used to it. I was warming up earlier today without any wind basically. You come out, you have to adjust your toss, the wind is changing direction all the time. Once you get used to a certain direction, it changes. But it is, as I said, same for both players.
Im really happy the way I played tonight. I managed to win in straight sets against a player in form. I was really pleased with my second and third set. Really, really pleased. I made him play a lot. I served accurately, picking my spots, not really forcing the serve too much, trying to get easier first shot in the rally.
When asked how had prepared himself for the day, he continued: Well, seeing who was scheduled before me on the court, the matches, Kerber and Bencic, I think Anderson and Monfils, I expected a long day. But, again, why spend energy on something that you cant change? I mean, it is what it is.
I just accepted it. I went with the flow of my routines and everything that I have to do to get myself ready for the match, if I get to play today. I also knew that there is a big chance of us getting interrupted by darkness, continuing the next day, as it happened for me last year. Those are the kind of circumstances that you just have to accept.
Djokovic v Nishikori
Federer v Anderson
Raonic v Isner
Nadal v Simon/Del Potro
If it does end up being Nishikori-Djokovic and Nadal-Del Potro… should Federer-Anderson be pushed to Court 1 along with Isner-Raonic?
— George Bellshaw (@BellshawGeorge) July 9, 2018
Post-match I heard that the organisers were planning to cancel my match if Monfils and Anderson went to a fifth. Luckily for me it didnt happen. Im glad that were talking tonight after a fourth-round win.
Theres set to be another scheduling conflict for mens quarter-finals day on Wednesday – with three potentially high profile matches set to be spread across the top two courts.
Should Juan Martin del Potro finish Gilles Simon off on Tuesday, it seems inconceivable that his match with Rafael Nadal wont be on Centre Court – with Djokovic-Nishikori vying with Roger Federer-Kevin Anderson for the other spot.
Asked whether he expects to be on Centre on Wednesday the 31-year-old Serb added: Well see. Hopefully.