REUTERS: Berating the umpire at the start and bellowing to the sky as he closed out a third-set tiebreak on Centre Court, it was hard to argue with Novak Djokovic’s assertion that the passion is back.
Novak Djokovic in action during his third round match against Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis – Reuters
The three-times Wimbledon champion continued to look much more like his old self as he recovered from an early wobble to beat unpredictable Latvian Ernests Gulbis 6-4 6-1 7-6(2) and take his place in the fourth round for a 10th time.
His former coach Boris Becker, commentating for the BBC, had picked up on Djokovic’s feisty on-court mood, saying it was a sign that the 12-times grand slam champion was emerging from a 12-month funk that began after winning the 2016 French Open.
“Boris knows me very well. So he’s right when he says that the passion is back. I’ve been feeling better on the court,” said Djokovic, who will next face 51st ranked Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, who he beat in last year’s second round.
Djokovic dropped his serve in the third game when Gulbis let rip with three clean winners and was clearly not happy with the work of American umpire Jake Garner and was clearly heard to tell the official to “focus”.
“Maybe it wasn’t right me doing that and I apologise,” Djokovic said. “He is trying to do his job as best he can, as am I. Sometimes it can just be said in the heat of the match.”