LONDON – Novak Djokovic lay crumpled on Centre Court, clutching his upper left arm and grimacing. He felt something pop and feared the worst.
Djokovic had lunged for a shot behind the baseline, tumbled on the grass and rolled over twice, his racket flying from his hand. His new coach, Boris Becker, stood in the player’s box and looked on gravely.
Slowly, Djokovic rose from the turf, still holding his arm across his chest and made his way to his chair.
“When I stood up, I felt that click or pop, whatever you call it,” he said later. “I feared maybe it might be a dislocated shoulder or something like that.”
After a medical timeout and treatment from a trainer, the top-seeded Djokovic needed just four more games to complete a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over France’s Gilles Simon on Friday, sending him into the fourth round and keeping alive his bid for a second Wimbledon title and seventh Grand Slam championship.
“Luckily there is nothing damaged,” Djokovic said. “I just came from the doctor’s office, ultrasound. It’s all looking good. I’m quite confident that it will not affect my physical state or regimen or daily routine. I think it’s going to be fine.”
Djokovic will have two days off before an intriguing matchup Monday against another Frenchman, the free-swinging 14th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Djokovic’s injury scare came on a day that also featured the elimination of second-seeded woman Li Na and a three-set, 2½-hour Centre Court battle between two former female champions — with 2011 winner Petra Kvitova overcoming five-time champ Venus Williams 5-7, 7-6 (7-2), 7-5.
Defending men’s champion Andy Murray, who hasn’t dropped a set this week, extended his winning streak at the All England Club to 16 matches by beating Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. The streak goes back to his gold-medal run at the 2012 London Olympics, which was played at Wimbledon.
No. 6 Tomas Berdych, runnerup at Wimbledon four years ago, became the highest-seeded man to go out so far when he fell to No. 26 Marin Cilic 7-6 (7-5) 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).
Li, the Australian Open champion, fell 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5) to 43rd-ranked Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic in the first major upset of the tournament. Since winning her second Grand Slam title in Melbourne in January, Li has lost in the first round of the French Open and now failed to reach the second week at Wimbledon.
Kvitova beat Williams for the fourth time in five matches. All have gone to three sets.
Now 34, and slowed in recent years by an energy-sapping autoimmune disease, Williams made a strong showing and again dismissed any talk of retirement.
“People have been trying to retire me since I was like 25,” she said. “I’m not getting out of here. . . . I’m finding my way back on my feet. I’m proud of myself for what I’m achieving on the court.”