3:51pm Friday 27th June 2014
© Press Association 2014
Novak Djokovic made light of a shoulder-injury scare and several potentially-costly concentration lapses to coast to a straight-sets Wimbledon victory over erratic Frenchman Gilles Simon.
Top seed Djokovic cantered past world number 44 Simon 6-4 6-2 6-4 in the third round - but only after shaking off damage to his left shoulder suffered in a baseline slip and tumble.
The 27-year-old slipped several times on the worn baseline turf, damaging his shoulder in the third set and receiving extended courtside treatment.
The world number two recovered quickly though, to progress to the last 16 thanks to a victory routine in all but his own wayward focus.
Both combatants wrestled with concentration and emotion, but the 2011 champion comfortably trumped the easily-fazed Frenchman in the event.
Struggling to project the image of man unruffled, Djokovic twice batted loose balls into the sky in disgust.
The Belgrade-born six-time grand slam winner relinquished service break advantages in both the first and second sets - only to recover control in both scenarios.
Simon's feeble second serve and moments of near-ineptitude gifted Djokovic sufficient control to breeze through relatively unscathed.
Only unforced errors denied Djokovic a first-set rout.
A slice drop from the baseline as dainty as it was deadly hinted the Serb was in sound mind for a quick workout.
The set's standout shot paved the way for Djokovic to break Simon's erratic serve, to lead 4-2.
The unpredictable Frenchman dredged up enough grit to force an immediate break back however, but Djokovic would have lamented his loose attempted drop shot that never threatened to clear the net.
Simon's service action problems manifested spectacularly as he thumped one ball into the foot of the net - only after two bounces.
Somehow the 29-year-old recovered to hold to put the set back on serve, with Djokovic following suit.
All Simon's fragilities then came to roost in a limp stub into the net to gift Djokovic set point - and a wayward attempted pass surrendered the opening exchange.
Djokovic saved two break points in the third game as the second set clunked into life.
Two poor shots from Simon handed Djokovic a break to lead 3-1: but just when the Frenchman's edges started to fray, the top seed slumped to a break without registering a point.
Again Djokovic was the man to temper his tantrum, breaking Simon immediately to regain control 4-2.
Two games later Djokovic had the set, and the match, seemingly in his grasp.
That fuzzy focus caught Djokovic again at the start of the third set however, just when he ought to have been wrapping up.
Simon forced a break and then held to claim a 2-0 lead - but the unpredictable Nice native crumpled without delay, allowing Djokovic to level.
Djokovic was forced to fend off another break point in the fifth game, stringing out still further his inevitable procession.
After Djokovic's injury treatment break, the set stayed level-pegging until the 10th game - where the Serbian dispatched Simon's serve one final time.
Djokovic said he had called for medical attention on court for reassurance he had not damaged his left-shoulder joint.
"I thought it was an awkward fall, I was just hoping there was nothing bad going on with the joint," he said.
"Luckily there's no damage in the joint, I could play a few games after that and just the muscle was quite sore because of the impact.
"But all in all I'm just very glad to get through."
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