Sweet 16 for Djokovic as Wimbledon seeds crash
LONDON: Defending champion Novak Djokovic reached the Wimbledon third round for the 16th time on Wednesday as potential semi-final opponent Casper Ruud crashed out.
Top seed Djokovic brushed aside 79th-ranked Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 and will face Serbian compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic for a last-16 place.
Third seed and French Open runner-up Ruud was knocked out by 112th-ranked Ugo Humbert, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5, 6-4.
“I’m very happy with my performance. I started very well, solid from the back of the court,” said Djokovic, who is looking to join Pete Sampras as a seven-time Wimbledon champion.
“I made him work for every point and worked him around the court,” added the 20-time major winner.
Kokkinakis had likened Djokovic to a “brick wall” before the match.
“It was one-way traffic. I got chopped today,” said the 26-year-old Australian after his Centre Court torment.
In the women’s event, second seed Anett Kontaveit lost 6-4, 6-0 to Germany’s Julie Niemeier as the Estonian endured another Grand Slam to forget. Kontaveit has made the quarter-finals of a major just once in 29 attempts. Ninth seed and 2017 champion Garbine Muguruza also exited in her delayed first-round clash, losing 6-4, 6-0 to Belgium’s Greet Minnen.
Lesia Tsurenko came out on top in three sets over Ukrainian compatriot Anhelina Kalinina to make the third round for the second time.
Tsurenko, ranked at 101, proudly wore a ribbon in the colours of Ukraine on her shirt.
“It was a big court. Two Ukrainian players but a lot of people were watching us. We felt amazing support,” said Tsurenko after her 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win.
Last year’s runner-up Karolina Pliskova, the sixth seed, reached the second round after battling past Czech compatriot Tereza Martincova 7-6 (7-1), 7-5.
American eight seed Jessica Pegula overcame a dogged challenge from Donna Vekic to advance with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-2) victory while former French Open winner Jeena Ostapenko made light work of Belgian Yanina Wickmayer, sailing into the third round 6-2, 6-2.
SERENA LOSES ON COMEBACK
On Tuesday, Serena Williams’ first singles match in a year ended in a first-round defeat but she still managed to bring the Centre Court crowd to its feet as they saluted a champion’s performance in a match that lasted over three hours.
Seven-time champion Serena lost 7-5, 1-6, 7-6(10-7) to Harmony Tan of France but not before the 40-year-old American enthralled the crowd and even saved a match point before she fell in the tiebreak in her first singles encounter since an injury forced her out of her first-round match at Wimbledon last year.
Serena won the last of her Wimbledon singles titles six years ago but reached the final in 2018 and 2019.
“It’s definitely better than last year,” Serena said. “That’s a start.”
Asked whether this might have been her last match, she replied: “That’s a question I can’t answer. I don’t know. … Who knows? Who knows where I’ll pop up?”
Next for Tan is a second-round match Thursday against 32nd-seeded Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain.
Petra Kvitova, another former Wimbledon champion, was made to work in her first round clash where she beat Jasmine Paolini 2-6 6-4 6-2.
On the men’s side, Rafa Nadal’s participation had been in doubt earlier this month due to a foot injury but, barring a third set wobble, he came through his first match on grass in three years to beat Argentine Francisco Cerundolo 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, who took Nadal to five sets at the French Open, crashed out of the tournament at the hands of American Maxime Cressy.
The sixth seed lost 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 7-6 (11-9), 7-6 (7-5), removing another potential obstacle in the path of Nadal, who next faces Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis.
Men’s fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas became the last player in the men’s draw to move into the second round, for the first time since 2018, after he overcame Switzerland’s Alexander Ritschard 7-6 (7-1), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2022