Bobby Reynolds plays most of his tennis on the twilight world of the Challenger circuit but like the rest of the journeymen competitors at Wimbledon this year he will have looked at the giantklling heroics of Steve Darcis and Sergiy Stakhovsky, the slayers of Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, and thought, 'if they can do that, I can.'
So Reynolds, the 30-year-old American with the name, look and demeanour of a 1950s B movie actor, went into last night's second round match against Novak Djokovic on Centre Court bristling with ambition. He may never have passed the third round of a Grand Slam but this would be his night. For 12 games, initially under a moody sky, then under the floodlit roof, he matched the defending champion shot for shot. Then the world No.1 upped his game, took the tie-break, and, after a brief wobble early in the second set, romped away to a 7-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory.
In that opening set Reynolds survived an 10-minute third service game despite double-faulting at a crucial stage, and deuces when serving to stay in the set at 5-6, but the tie-break was brutal. Djokovic stormed to a 5-0 lead before taking it 7-2. Djokovic sought to drive home the advantage pressuring the opening service game of the second set but several break points went begging as Reynolds hung in and finally held serve. He even threatened to break the world No.1 but put over-hit a smash into open court at 0-30. Djokovic held, broke, and held to love. Suddenly the prospect of joining Darcis and Stakhovsky in lights looked a distant one. When Djokovic took the second of three set points to break again it was near-inconceivable, even in this week of shocks.
Reynolds continue to play some fine shots, but his inconsistency betrayed a ranking of 156. Djokovic wrapped up the match in just under two hours with a neat stop volley.
“It is strange so many top players have lost this week, but it is a Grand Slam and all the lower-ranked players have extra motivation to come out and play on the big stage so I needed to be extra careful. With the roof closed the conditions were slower and I needed to adjust, but it was a nice match and I'm looking forward to the next one.” That will be against Jeremy Chardy, of France, or Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff, whose match was suspended due to rain with the score one-set all.