Home » Wimbledon: British wild card Jacob Fearnley ‘intimidated’ at facing Novak Djokovic in the second round

Wimbledon: British wild card Jacob Fearnley ‘intimidated’ at facing Novak Djokovic in the second round

Wimbledon: British wild card Jacob Fearnley ‘intimidated’ at facing Novak Djokovic in the second round

British wild card Jacob Fearnley admits it will be a bit “intimidating” when he tackles 24-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon on Thursday.

Fearnley only finished his five-year stint at Texas Christian University (TCU) in May and was ranked outside the top 500 until he won an ATP Challenger event in Nottingham as a qualifier last month.

It earned the 22-year-old from Scotland a wild card for this year’s Championships and despite being distracted by Djokovic’s score on a screen outside Centre Court, he marked his debut at the All England Club with a 7-5 6-4 7-6 (14-12) victory over Alejandro Moro Canas on a buoyant Court Eight.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t watching the scores on Centre Court. It was getting in my head a little bit that I was going to have to play him,” Fearnley said.

“Yeah, it’s going to be a little bit intimidating, but it’s a match that I’m super excited for. It’s the biggest match of my career so far. Just to be able to share the court with a player like that will be really special.

“I’ve watched so many videos of him. It doesn’t look like there’s many flaws in his game. I’m going to just try and enjoy it, put my game out on the court and see what happens. I don’t think there’s many tactics going into the match.”

World No 277 Fearnley arrived at Wimbledon having won in Nottingham before suffering a narrow defeat to compatriot Billy Harris at Eastbourne.

He created chances on the serve of Moro Canas, who came through qualifying but had limited experience on grass.

Eventually Fearnley was able to break after consecutive winners in the 11th game before an ace closed out a 75-minute first set.

Further break point chances were fashioned at the start of the second, but Moro Canas held before rain forced play to be suspended.

After an hour’s delay, a double-fault by Moro Canas gifted Fearnley a break in the fifth game of the second set.

Not long after Fearnley established a two-set lead, Djokovic beat Vit Kopriva with the roar of the crowd audible on his court in the shadow of Wimbledon’s main arena.

The third set stayed on serve and a tie-break was required, during which British No 13 Fearnley put his fans through the wringer.

He squandered five match points before a crisp forehand winner at the back of the court earned him a maiden Grand Slam win and a clash with Djokovic.

Fearnley acknowledged: “Yeah, it’s a bit crazy, for sure. Obviously it’s come very unexpectedly.

“I had a great month. Won the national championships in America with TCU. Had, like, a week to prepare, maybe less, for Nottingham. Had to qualify. Kind of almost actually bowed out first round qualifying. Yeah, just managed to pull out some wins for the rest of the week.

“Had a tough match against Billy (at Eastbourne). Kind of felt that it was a good thing because that meant I was fresh coming into Wimbledon, which is the most important tournament. Yeah, it’s been a great month.”

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Corentin Moutet’s phone alarm went off mid-match whilst playing against Djokovic in Rome, with everyone involved seeing the funny side!

Fearnley’s continued participation helps fly the flag for Britain and in particular Scotland in the singles competition, following Andy Murray’s withdrawal.

Given Edinburgh-born Fearnley has spent recent years across the pond, contact between the duo has been sparse, but he did recall being “glued” to the TV when Murray beat Djokovic in 2013 to clinch a maiden Wimbledon crown.

“He’s the best role model that a British tennis player can have, especially a Scottish player like myself,” Fearnley said.

“I take a lot of what he does and try to implement it in my game. Yeah, if I have any kind of success like he’s had on the tour, I’ll be super happy.”

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