The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Spills, thrills and sportsmanship: Djokovic and Stepanek wage entertaining Wimbledon match

  • Print

LONDON - The Centre Court match at Wimbledon featured only two service breaks, but wait, there was much, much more:

— Novak Djokovic giving away a point to Radek Stepanek that could have been replayed following an over-rule on a line call during a crucial time in the match, a move seldom seen in tennis.

— Stepanek cutting his right knee on one of his dozen or so falls on the grass during the 3-hour, 17-minute second-round match Wednesday.

— And on the final point of the match, a successful challenge by Djokovic on a call originally called out, with Stepanek getting down on his hands and knees in a prayer pose.

"Today in the challenges I was so unlucky, a millimeter here, a millimeter there," Stepanek said. "I guess I hoped and I prayed that one time it will go with me."

It didn't. Djokovic's forehand cross-court pass was ruled in after the video replay showed the ball landed on the line. Djokovic completed a 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5) win. The two players, good friends and frequent practice partners, hugged at the net.

The third-set tiebreaker featured each player winning five points in a row — Djokovic to take a 5-2 lead, only to have Stepanek come back to take it 7-5.

"I was two sets up, I had some break-point chances in the third and should have closed it out in the third-set tiebreak," Djokovic said. "But credit to him for fighting. He's 35 years old and still moving very well and surface wise grass is probably his most preferred. He loves to engage the crowd."

That Stepanek did, with his give-it-all style of play swaying the Centre Court spectators his way late in the match. Stepanek repeatedly made unsuccessful challenges on line calls. When he finally got one right, he looked up to the skies in relief.

Stepanek said he couldn't recall ever falling down so many times in a match.

"Maybe not, but that's the way I play on grass, you have a little bit of comfort," he said. "But that's how I play anyway, with my heart."

Stepanek said he was surprised by Djokovic's gesture to give him the point. At 5-all in the third set, Djokovic had a game point on his serve when Stepanek hit a backhand that was called long. After Stepanek successfully challenged the call, Djokovic conceded the point even though it could have been replayed.

"That's why I asked the whole crowd to clap," Stepanek said. "It was incredible sportsmanship and it proves just what a great champion he is."

Djokovic played down the move.

"For me it's just natural, just something that is normal to do," he said. "I felt like I had no chance to play that ball, (so) of course I would concede the point. I've done it a few times in the past. OK, yes, the point was very important. ...

"Nevertheless, I think it's fair play. It's something that I would expect my opponent to do for me. It doesn't happen very often, unfortunately."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Fringe, space motifs trendy for teens heading back to school

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A gaggle of Canada geese goslings at Woodsworth Park in Winnipeg Monday- See Project Honk Day 05- May 07, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A mother goose has chosen a rather busy spot to nest her eggs- in the parking lot of St Vital Centre on a boulevard. Countless cars buzz by and people have begun to bring it food.-Goose Challenge Day 06 - May 08, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who has been the Bombers MVP so far this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google