Seven-time champion Novak Djokovic overcame a sluggish beginning to defeat unseeded Australian Alexei Popyrin 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(3) and advance to the Wimbledon fourth round on Saturday. Djokovic's pursuit of a record-extending 25th Grand Slam title appeared to be in jeopardy when Popyrin took a 4-3 lead with a stunning crosscourt forehand winner and secured the first set with a second-serve ace.

"It was another challenging match. I anticipated nothing less than what we experienced today from Alexei," Djokovic said, recalling their four-set encounter at this year's Australian Open. "I knew he would enter the match with confidence and a strong sense of self-belief. He was close to victory when we played earlier this year in Australia." With his powerful serve and forehand, Popyrin poses a threat on any surface.

Djokovic quickly regained his form and dominated the second set, leading 4-1 when the Centre Court crowd erupted in celebration as news spread that England had defeated Switzerland to reach the Euro 2024 semi-finals. The amused second seed mimicked a penalty kick, which Popyrin humorously attempted to save, delighting the fans.

Djokovic faced little difficulty in the second and third sets but encountered more resistance in the fourth as Popyrin fought hard for his first win against Djokovic in their third meeting, saving three break points in the 11th game. However, Djokovic sealed the tiebreak with a powerful serve that Popyrin could only return into the net.

"I played well in the second and third sets, and the fourth was anyone's game," Djokovic added. "He served exceptionally well, making it tough to read his serve. It was a mentally challenging match to endure." Djokovic, who had knee surgery weeks before Wimbledon after injuring it at the French Open, said he was improving with each match.

"My movement and confidence, especially on extreme balls, have definitely improved since my second match," he said, referring to his encounter with Briton Jacob Fearnley, where he also lost a set. "Hopefully, the trend will continue positively. We'll see what happens next." Djokovic's next opponent is 15th seed Holger Rune, who advanced after a grueling five-set match against Quentin Halys.