Novak Djokovic avoided becoming the latest star to crash out of Wimbledon as the world number one recovered from a slow start to defeat American qualifier Bobby Reynolds 7-6 (7/2), 6-3, 6-1 in the second round on Thursday.
While several of Djokovic’s title rivals have fallen foul of the shock defeats and injury withdrawals that have rocked Wimbledon over the last four days, the 26-year-old has progressed serenely to the last 32 and is yet to drop a set.
Both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal suffered stunning losses at the hands of unheralded opponents in the other half of the draw, leaving Djokovic as the only former Wimbledon champion left.
And a defeat for Djokovic in his first meeting with Reynolds, the world number 156, would have been just as shocking.
But, although the Serb never hit peak form, he did enough to see off his obdurate opponent with 41 winners and 12 aces in one hour and 56 minutes.
Djokovic will play French 28th seed Jeremy Chardy or German qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff for a place in the last 16.
Reynolds’ exit was one of the least surprising results in an otherwise shock-filled week, but it did carry historic significance as there will be no American men in the Wimbledon third round for the first time in 101 years.
Djokovic arrived at the All England Club last week desperate to erase the bitter memories of his French Open semi-final defeat against Nadal earlier this month and that setback in Paris will soon be a distant memory if he continues in this form.
The Serb had made success at Roland Garros his top priority this year, but a second Wimbledon crown to follow his triumph in 2011 would be a more than acceptable consolation prize.
With rain plaguing the All England Club for the first time this week, Djokovic would have been pleased to be scheduled under the Centre Court roof, allowing him to progress without having to wait around for the weather to improve.
Reynolds, 30, competed ferociously and came up with enough winners to take the first set to a tie-break.
Djokovic had missed several opportunities to break earlier in the set, but the reigning Australian Open champion found enough rhythm to take the breaker in emphatic fashion.
With the tension of that first set released, Djokovic played with more freedom in the second and, after squandered eight break points, he finally broke for the first time to take a 2-1 lead.
He kept the pressure on and another break at 5-3 sealed a two-set lead.
Djokovic was in the groove now and there was no way back for Reynolds after he broke in the opening game of the third set before closing out the win.