Advertisement

England celebrations briefly interrupt Novak Djokovic’s progression at Wimbledon

Euro 2024 fever reached Wimbledon as Novak Djokovic won his shoot-out with Alexei Popyrin to reach the last 16.

With former England boss Roy Hodgson watching from the Royal Box, a huge cheer broke out around Centre Court as news of England’s win on penalties against Switzerland filtered through.

That prompted Djokovic to take an imaginary spot-kick, with Popyrin putting up his hands to mimic a save.

After a 4-6 6-3 6-4 7-6 (3) victory, Djokovic said: “I assumed it was a penalty shoot-out between England and Switzerland. It felt like for a set and a half the crowd wanted to know the score. Did England win? Congrats!

“I took a penalty, I’m left-footed, but Alex saved it well.”

While England have laboured all the way to the semi-finals, Djokovic also looked underwhelming in the first set.

Popyrin broke the Serbian’s serve with a stunning forehand pass on the run, and then sealed the opening set with a booming ace.

Novak Djokovic hits a forehand
Novak Djokovic on his way to victory (Aaron Chown/PA)

But once the seven-time champion got into his stride Popyrin, who took Djokovic to four sets at his home slam in Australia in January, suffered the same fate.

“It was another tough match, I didn’t expect anything less,” said Djokovic, who mimed playing a violin as he celebrated.

“He was close to winning that match in Australia. He’s dangerous on any surface.

“A challenging match mentally as well, having to hang in there with no concentration lapses, and the tie-break was one of the best I’ve played this year.”

Djokovic, still wearing a protective knee support following surgery on a torn meniscus, added: “Each match is getting better, my confidence in my movement, reaching, sliding,

“I definitely felt better today than in my last match. Hopefully the trajectory continues in a positive way throughout the tournament.”