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Benneteau v Djokovic as it happened

Wimbledon

Benneteau v Djokovic live video

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By Tom Fordyce at Wimbledon


Benneteau 7-6 6-7 2-6 4-6 Djokovic
Would you believe it - Benny gets back to his feet, at match point down, and serves big to save it. Djoko sets up a third match point with rapier forehands - and this time he takes it, Benny's desperate forehand flying wide into the tramlines. Splendid ding-dong, and the Centre Court crowd quite rightly give both men a standing ovation. See you on Tues, yup?

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 2-6 *4-5 Djokovic
What's Benny got left? A big serve to start with, but a slip costs him the next point 15-15. What a rally that is next, a wonderful exchange of shots that Djoko steals with a fantastic drop-shot from behind the baseline. Big serve - 30-30, and a shout of "Allez!" from Benny. He goes long, horribly on the next - match point - saved as Djoko can only flail his service return into the net. My word - sensational backhand lob from Djoko, and as Benny sprints back in desperate pursuit, he goes full pelt into the back wall. Looks nasty, this - Benny's lying there, clutching his knees, and the trainer will have to come on here.
Here he comes, bag of ice in hand. Benny is still prone - Djokovic jogs round the net and asks of his health. After at least two minutes a medical timeout is called.

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 2-6 *4-5 Djokovic
Ace number 14 from Djoko, followed by a "who, me?" disguised dropper. A battered flat forehand down the line takes him to within a game of the match.

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 2-6 4-4* Djokovic
Now then. Big points. Benny is wobbling at 15-30, battles back to 40-30 and is then taken apart by a ravenous Djoko - break point. Djoko works the point, sets up a forehand chance down the line - and misses it by half a whisker. Zut. But that's nothing compared to the oo-la-la a few seconds later - at break point down, Benny's drive down the line is called out, only for him to query it and be rewarded with a HawkEye yes-indeed. Two Djoko mistakes later and he's level. Fantastique!

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 2-6 *3-4 Djokovic
Easy-peas for Djoko - racing through his service like a man with a dinner date.

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 2-6 3-3* Djokovic
Sinden or no Sinden, Benny battles on. Looked dicey when he started with a double-fault, but if there's flakiness in the Frenchman he's keeping it well hidden at the mo.

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 2-6 *2-3 Djokovic
Moans of dismay from the partisan punters as Benny fails to dent the Djoko bodywork. No sign of Sinden returning, by the way. Disappointing.

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 2-6 2-2* Djokovic
Crowd-pleasing touch from Benny - he's conjured up some rare delights in places. There's a sweet soft-hands volley running to the tape and a fine baseline exchange that ends with Djoko being forced long, and despite two fearsome Djok returns of serve he polishes things off with ease. The match is alive and kicking.

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 2-6 *1-2 Djokovic
There's still wonkiness lurking in the Djokovic machine - another mistimed backhand flies long - but there's enough speed and menace to nose him in front again. Big hold needed from the Frenchman.

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 2-6 1-1* Djokovic
Confidence and aggression now flowing from the Serbian. He piles into the listing Benny, forcing him out wide and then pummelling him on the backhand to set up two break points. A serve to the body saves one - and that's lovely on the next, a series of backhand raspers creating the space for a backhand volley dropper. Djoko plonks a volley of his onto the net and Benny then draws raucous cheers from the galleries with a splendid forehand drive winner.

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 2-6 *0-1 Djokovic
Lovely controlled volley from Djoko before Benny forces errors of his own. An over-ambitious backhand dropper falls short from the Frenchman, a two-handed driver does the same and Djoko makes a dash for the finish line.

THIRD SET

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 2-6 Djokovic
If it is, Benny's having a bigger one of his own. The errors are creeping in, the backhand has lost its pace and the head is starting to go down. Djoko in the driving-seat.

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 *2-5 Djokovic
Hold on - is this a micro-wobble? Djoko, rock-solid on serve throughout, suddenly comes up with two double-faults to throw a break at his ailing opponent. Concentration collapses.

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 1-5* Djokovic
Benny at least breaks his bagel for the set, and the crowd reward him with hearty handclaps. Now to climb the mountain.

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 0-5* Djokovic
Yup - with a crashbangwallop Djoko races through his service game. Doom and gloom for his enigmatic opponent.

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 *0-4 Djokovic
I say fine - Benny does look a touch hamstrung out there, if that's not the wrong word seeing that it's his hip that's bothering him. Another break slips away, and with the Djoko serve as heavy as it is, you'd fear the set has gone too.


1853: Yeah, he's fine. Magic fingers from the trainer do the trick. Big applause from the crowd as he show-jogs back to the baseline.

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 0-3* Djokovic
Not if Benny's got life left in those legs of his - super scampering sets up two break points. A trademark Djoko backhand saves one, a boomer into the body the second. Went down well with Djunior Djoko in the VIP seats, that - younger brother Marko is all smiles. Benny slips badly at the death and calls for the physio - I'll keep you posted.

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 0-2* Djokovic
Must be a touch greasy out there. After the slips and slides earlier from Federer and Serena, it's now Djoko's turn to loose his footing. Benny is suddenly looking tired though - his footwork is growing shonkier, and he makes successive errors to be broken for the first time. Is that the moment the match turned?

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 *0-1 Djokovic
Now then. What's Benny got left in the tank? Plenty, from the look of that rally - delightful droppery, nerveless smashery. Break point. Djokovic - oof, that's a massive serve, and so is that, fired into the body with wicked pace. Hugely enjoyable rumble, this.

SECOND SET

Benneteau 7-6 6-7 Djokovic
Better start to the breaker from Djoko - two run-around forehands to open a mini-break. Benny bites back with a forehand slicer but Djoko then takes control - big serves, slicing forehands, taking the pace out of the ball and forcing the errors. 1-5. Benn blasts long, and that's all it takes - huge sigh of relief from the no.4 seed...

Benneteau 7-6 6-6 Djokovic
Another backhand blaster tears huge holes in the Djoko defence - 0-15. It should be love 0-30 - a weak second serve is pummelled into the tape - and Djokovic takes advantage with a trio of untouchable first-serve thrashers.

Benneteau 7-6 6-5* Djokovic
Confidence and touch from Julien - a sweet drop-volley, a top-spinner out wide and a running dropper to heap the worries onto Djoko. There's une roar et une pumpe de fiste too as he runs to his chair to glug furiously from his water bottle.

Benneteau 7-6 *5-5 Djokovic
Crashing first serves give Djoko daylight - and when Benn misses wide left, Djoko breathes again.

Benneteau 7-6 5-4* Djokovic
Super tennis out there from Benn - he's right on top of his game, powering through on the backhand, tossing in leg-sapping drop-shots and creaming away the winners. Djoko must hold to stay in the set - but if he does that, how does he push on to start making inroads on Julien? The Frenchman is winning over 80% of points on his first serve.

Benneteau 7-6 *4-4 Djokovic
Strange times - Djoko's backhand is all over the shop. He mis-hits one long and then duffs another into the net to slump at 15-30 - 30-30 after a crunching serve down the middle. Another boomer sets up game point, a third seals it.

Benneteau 7-6 4-3* Djokovic
Lovely again from Julien - that double-handed backhand of his is a mighty weapon this evening. Nine winners from that side from his today; just three from Djokovic. Whooda thought it?

Benneteau 7-6 *3-3 Djokovic
Djoko rattles through his service game again. He jogs to his chair as the score goes up on the board and selects a fresh racquet from the gleaming collection of offer.

Benneteau 7-6 3-2* Djokovic
First signs that Djoko might be finding his range - he gets to 30-40 before Benn slams le door shut. Julien munches meditatively on a banana at the changeover.

Benneteau 7-6 3-2* Djokovic
First signs that Djoko might be finding his range - he gets to 30-40 before Benn slams le door shut. Julien munches meditatively on a banana at the changeover.

Benneteau 7-6 *2-2 Djokovic
A phlegmatic shrug of the shoulders from Benn as Djoko rattles through his set of serves. He couldn't have looked more French if he was reversing the wrong way up a one-way street to an E LeClerc supermarket while simultaneously smoking a filterless cigarette.

Benneteau 7-6 2-1* Djokovic
Benno is enjoying himself out there. Two sweet half-volleys are picked up off his shoelaces, and Djoko can't get a foothold to attack at the moment. Crowd definitely favouring the French outsider.

Benneteau 7-6 *1-1 Djokovic
Decent test this now for Djoko. He's stalking the baseline with the sort of glower that could make young children cry. Menacing hold.

Benneteau 7-6 1-0* Djokovic
Emboldened by that tie-break success, Benn holds at pace. A backhand ripped cross-court draws admiring oh yesses from the rapt spectators.

FIRST SET

Benneteau 7-6 Djokovic
Hoopla - Julien stumbles on a volley and eats grass at the base of the net as Djoko strokes into the empty court. Benn battles back with lusty groundstrokes and leads 4-2 at the change of ends. Feisty from Djoko - he fights his way back and Benn wobbles with a lame backhand - 4-5, which goes to 5-5 as Djoko goes midcourt with a forehand and is put away. Djok takes us to 6-6 with an ace as points return to serve; serves stay strong to 8-8. Hugely enjoyable drama. Djoko is the first to crack, his forehand sent wide after a marathon slicefest - and when Benn drills a backhand cross-court, the set is his. We've got a game on here...

Benneteau 6-6 Djokovic
More slice than the Hovis factory out there. Benn is cruising at 40-15 but then flays long to be pegged back to deuce. Djoko hits a super double-handed backhand cross-court to steal a set point and grimaces at the heavens as he blows it with a blocked return into the tape. Benneteau aces down the middle and follows it with another biggie - tie-break it is.

Benneteau *5-6 Djokovic
Trouble looms for Djoko at 0-30. Benn senses a skinny chance and marches forward to attack the Serbian serve, but that's nerveless tennis from the no.4 seed - big forehand to the corner, heavy sliced backhand, extra oomphh all over the serve.

Benneteau 5-5* Djokovic
It's got tie-break written all over it, this. The patricians are back in numbers in the Royal Box, and Benn greets them with a barrage of service menace.

Benneteau 5-5* Djokovic
It's got tie-break written all over it, this. The patricians are back in numbers in the Royal Box, and Benn greets them with a barrage of service menace.

Benneteau *4-5 Djokovic
"Novak!" shouts a lone voice from the crowd. There's a woman down the front with a reversible banner - one side reads, "FEDERER ROCKS" and the other "GO DJOKOVIC!" Good forward planning. Straightforward hold.

Benneteau 4-4* Djokovic
Sultry out there now. Benn, who hasn't won a match at Wimbledon since 2006, holds in the fashion of a man stepping back in time.

Benneteau *3-4 Djokovic
Neither man yet ready to wrest the advantage here. Djoko, dabbing his forehead with the large red sweatband on his right wrist, pings in two whipcrack serves. By the way - if you haven't yet seen the chat Caroline Cheese had with Vinny Spadea, you need to get involved. "I was a cougar, but now I'm a mountain lion," is a sample of Vin-Dogg's magic.

Benneteau 3-3* Djokovic
Big booming backhands from Benn, who looks like he's been dribbling the old Sun In into his barnet - definite orangish tinge to the tonsorial top.

Benneteau *2-3 Djokovic
Super tennis from the Serbian - a fantastic fetch off his backhand, followed by a sprint across court and a running forehand creamed down the line. I've done Benne a disservice with that Brittas chat - it was just the way the light was falling on his chiselled chops.

Benneteau 2-2* Djokovic
First signs of trouble for Benneteau, who's got a bit of the Gordon Brittas about him facially. A slap-happy exchange of forehands ended with him burying one in the net to wobble at deuce, but Djoko then mis-times a brace of drives to let him off the hook.

Benneteau *1-2 Djokovic
Subdued around Centre at the mo - we're in that classic "why don't we stretch our legs/ fancy a Pimm's?" late afternoon zone. Djok holds with minimum fuss.

Benneteau *1-1 Djokovic
The Royal Box is 9/10ths empty as Benn overheads with wristy relish to get his own campaign on the board. No Sinden, no Stewart, no Cox. If those names don't resonate with you, you've either missed the earlier matches or been living in a cultural vacuum for the past 20 years.

Benneteau 0-1* Djokovic
Hammer-time from MC Benn - a crashing forehand winner to kick us off. Djoko stays steely and gets his angular nose in front with the assistance of a challenged line-call. He said long, HawkEye assented.

* denotes next server

1639: I don't want to put an unnecessary downer on Djoko's opponent Julien Benneteau, but he's lost in the first round of ten of the last 11 majors. He has beaten Novak before, however - a 6-3 6-4 pasting in Indian Wells back in the halcyon days of '06.

1636: So then - we've had two number two seeds on Centre Court so far - add them together and you get a number four seed. Like Novak Djokovic. That could be the lamest intro I've ever written in my life.





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