Novak Djokovic made hard work of beating talented American qualifier Denis Kudla — as once again he struggled to cope with the crowd turning against him.
But this 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 victory takes him closer than ever to a calendar Grand Slam and four wins from a 20th major — which would equal Federer and Nadal’s hauls. Maybe he will get some love and credit for a change too.
Novak Djokovic says his 'wolf energy' helped him defeat a spirited Denis Kudla on Friday
The Serb ultimately won over the Court No 1 crowd before reminding those who might have forgotten about his mental strength.
After the match he recalled how he had sheltered for months in his grandparents’ flat as a child while NATO forces bombed Belgrade nightly in the spring and summer of 1999.
And he was only there as his parents worked day and night in the neighbouring mountains to put food on the table for their three sons.
‘Never giving up is in my genes,’ he said to explain how he resisted Kudla’s credible comeback challenge. ‘The way I grew up in difficult times for my country means failure was never an option for my family.
‘We had to find the basic needs to survive and that has strengthened my character.