Novak Djokovic praises Jacob Fearnley after he impresses in four-set defeat

Fearnley left Centre Court to a standing ovation after he made a strong impression during his debut week at a grand-slam.

Novak Djokovic praises Scot Jacob Fearnley after he impresses in four-set Wimbledon defeat PA Media

Scottish tennis star Jacob Fearnley produced an excellent display to take a set off Novak Djokovic in a high-quality second-round defeat to the seven-time Wimbledon champion.

The Edinburgh-born right-hander followed in the footsteps of compatriot Andy Murray by being able to take on Djokovic on Centre Court to continue his dream debut week at the Championships.

While Fearnley bowed out after a 6-3 6-4 5-7 7-5 loss, the 22-year-old made the most of the occasion, earning the praise of the Serbian.

Djokovic said: “First and foremost, huge congrats to Jacob for an amazing match today.

“He put in a great effort and played very good tennis. He deserves a great round of applause.

“I haven’t had the chance to see him play. Actually, just two days ago, I seen him for the first time and obviously there is an element of surprise and nothing to lose.

“I thought he served very well. It was very difficult to break his serve. Today I thought Jacob played at a high level and he made me earn this victory.”

Fearnley hit 42 winners, many from his rocket of a backhand, to give the home crowd plenty to shout about in a contest which lasted exactly three hours.

This was Fearnley’s ninth match on grass this summer after a whirlwind month where he finished his five-year stint at Texas Christian University (TCU) in May before he won an ATP Challenger Tour event in Nottingham as a qualifier last month.

It helped earn the world number 277 a wild card at the All England Club and after he defeated Alejandro Moro Canas on Tuesday, the small matter of 24-time grand-slam winner Djokovic was up next on the grandest of stages in SW19.

No nerves were initially present from Fearnley, who walked out to applause with his white baseball cap back-to-front and sealed a simple hold to love with a 121mph ace.

The confidence of the Scottish right-hander started to grow with each game, but his best moments of the first set were immediately followed by a break.

Fearnley concluded a 21-shot rally with a wonderful backhand, which kissed the white chalk and then produced another to rapturous acclaim.

However, Djokovic gained the upper-hand when Fearnley’s misdirected slice gifted a break and the second seed closed out the 32-minute opener.

It failed to deter Fearnley, who created his first break point opportunity in the fourth game of the second set, but Djokovic, again with a grey support on his right knee, saved with an ace.

Djokovic brushed off a slight slip in the next game to wear down his opponent after Fearnley sent his trusty backhand long after an 18-shot rally to give up another break as the former world number one claimed to edge set two.

Fearnley earned a clap from Djokovic after a neat volley got the third set under way and had the crowd on their feet when he broke the Serbian in the sixth game.

Further applause followed when excellent play at the net won Fearnley a break point and Djokovic sent his forehand wide to give the wild card a memorable moment.

A clenched fist greeted the conclusion of the set before Fearnley produced a tweener at the start of the fourth.

The adrenaline was flowing when Djokovic double-faulted to go 15-40 down in the sixth game, but the second seed went clutch to hold, shushed the crowd and broke the novice to reach the third round weeks after surgery on a torn meniscus threatened his Wimbledon participation.

Nevertheless, it was Fearnley’s day and he left Centre Court to a standing ovation after he made a strong impression during his debut week at a grand-slam.

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