Wimbledon 2021: Novak Djokovic beats Cristian Garin to reach the quarter-finals
If there is one weakness to be exploited in Novak Djokovic’s arsenal, his Wimbledon quarterfinal procession hasn’t offered a single glimpse. It could usually be the result of the reigning champion’s relentless pursuit of perfection, but on this occasion his opponent just didn’t have the flair or the firepower to provide the scrutiny.
It was a first-to-last waltz that rarely amounted to more than a warm-up, and it shouldn’t be taken as a light against Garin, the No.17 seed playing the Grand Slam opener of the fourth round, but as further proof of the difficulty of preventing Djokovic from securing a third consecutive title at Wimbledon, and the promise of an unprecedented Golden Slam.
He will face Marton Fucsovics in the quarterfinals, which in theory should provide a tougher test. Regardless, the chasm of quality against Garin was at times astonishing, with Djokovic reducing a world-class player to something closer to a wide-eyed rookie. It was often the Serbian’s endurance that was most impressive, struggling breathlessly after each bullet, but here he was able to dictate in slow motion, moving Garin across the backline like a master puppeteer, sending the victors with disdainful blows.
If Djokovic failed to match Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s Grand Slam record this week, it would be seen as an almighty shock. This was clear before the start of the tournament and only hardened in reality. Ten years after his first Wimbledon title, it can be easy to forget the feats of his supremacy. Djokovic is a week younger than Andy Murray, but as a flame flickers, the Serbian’s fire burns more fiercely than ever and ravages the competition.
It became clear almost immediately that Garin would pose no serious danger. The 25-year-old had enjoyed a pleasant draw to reach the fourth round and had no experience to draw upon as he stepped onto a crowded center court which was allowed to return to full capacity on Monday. The Chilean’s first service game started with a tame double fault and was followed by two forehands into the net as Djokovic won eight straight points without breaking a sweat. There was little spectacular, only a steady stream of quality to which Garin had no response as the pressure wreaked havoc. The crowd attempted to rally him, cheering each of his points with exaggerated enthusiasm, but these eruptions of noise were rare. By the time Djokovic broke for the second time and won the first set, Garin had only won a total of nine points.
Garin’s nerves eventually calmed down in the second set, and perhaps Djokovic’s level subconsciously plummeted too, with a series of unusual mistakes offering two breaking points. But those heights were as far as Garin would reach, the threat acting as a red flag as Djokovic shifted gears to break serve and the third was little more than a procession. It is a theme with which this tournament and tennis as a whole are now intimately familiar. It will take something really big to topple him from his throne.