Simona Halep (Reuters)
LONDON, July 5 (Reuters): Highlights from day four of the Wimbledon championships on Thursday.
Djokovic makes a big statement in small arena
Novak Djokovic might have needed to get his sat-nav out to find his way to Court Two at Wimbledon but once he arrived it was all one way traffic as he reached the third round with a 6-1 6-2 6-3 win over Horacio Zeballos.
The last time Djokovic had to venture on to an outside court at the All England Club was in 2009, when he played a fourth-round match against Dudi Sela on Court 3.
Since then he has become accustomed to playing in the biggest arenas the sport has to offer while amassing a Grand Slam trophy haul of 12 – including three at Wimbledon – and collecting more than $100 million in prize money.
Halep belatedly finds her range to overcome Zheng
Simona Halep showed all the marks of a champion when she emerged unscathed from a first-set fright to reach the third round of Wimbledon with a 7-5 6-0 win over China’s Zheng Saisai on Thursday. Halep’s hopes of completing a French Open-Wimbledon double appeared to be in trouble when she fell 5-3 behind in the first set.
But the newest member of the grand slam winners’ circle showed her new-found maturity to win the next 10 games on the trot and completely locked out Zheng from the contest. The Romanian world number one will next face Hsieh Su-wei from Taiwan.
Nadal passes tricky test against Kukushkin
The scoreboard said 6-4 6-3 6-4 to Rafael Nadal but it was an uneasy two-and-a-half hours for the Spanish world number one as he laboured past Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin into the Wimbledon third round on Thursday. Twice champion Nadal, 32, never quite got to grips with the unorthodox Kazakh’s low, skidding shots and faced 13 break points in an entertaining Centre Court contest.
Had Kukushkin converted a few more of them it could have got really complicated for Nadal, who is still finding his grasscourt game after claiming an 11th French Open title. The mere mention of Lukas Rosol, Steve Darcis and Dustin Brown — all of whom have knocked him out at the All England Club since he won the 2010 title — is enough to make Nadal’s face crease into a frown.
He also got a fright from Kukushkin when he dropped the opening set at Wimbledon in 2014 so there was clear relief in his voice as he stopped for a BBC TV interview on his way back to the locker room after a second successive straight-sets win.
“It was very tough because he played very well and his shots stay very low so it was a good test,” Nadal said. “I am happy to go through, I think I played better than the first day. The most important thing is you can’t save your body at majors, you have to give your best.
Bouchard’s Wimbledon run ends in second round
Eugenie Bouchard’s hopes of emulating her 2014 run to the final were hit for six by former professional cricket player Ashleigh Barty in the second round ofWimbledon on Thursday.
The Canadian, whose ranking has fallen to 188th from a career-high five in 2014, had to contest three qualifying matches just to make into the main draw at the All England Club.
The effort of winning four matches over the past week to get into round two appeared to have taken its toll on Bouchard as she could do little to stop 17th seed Barty storming back from 5-2 down in the second set to seal a 6-4 7-5 victory.
Konta destroyed by Cibulkova on Centre Court
Britain’s Johanna Konta joined the exodus of women’s seeds at Wimbledon on Thursday, beaten 6-3 6-4 by Dominica Cibulkova, a player with a point to prove. Konta became the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals since 1978 last year, losing to Venus Williams, but her hopes of repeating that thrilling run were crushed by an inspired Slovakian on a subdued Centre Court.
Cibulkova missed out on the 32nd seeding when Wimbledon’s seedings committee bumped seven-times champion Serena Williams up the order and she played with a fierce intent throughout. Konta, seeded 22, could do nothing to stem the tide of winners as Cibulkova stormed ahead.
Kerber Relishing Osaka Challenge
Former world number one Angelique Kerber said she was looking forward to her first grasscourt meeting with 18th seed Naomi Osaka in the third round of Wimbledon. Kerber has a 2-1 head-to-head record against the Japanese player, with all three matches played on hard courts. Kerber lost their only grand-slam clash at last year’s U.S. Open.
“I’m actually looking forward to playing against her on grass… I know for sure I have to play good tennis and play better than the last two matches here,” 11th seed Kerber said after beating American Claire Liu 3-6 6-2 6-4. “We had really tough matches… I know that I have to be more aggressive, take the game in my hands.”
Cilic Crashes Against Argentine Pella
Third seed Marin Cilic was stunned 3-6 1-6 6-4 7-6(3) 7-5 by Argentina’s world number 82 Guido Pella in three hours 12 minutes. The Croatian, runner-up in 2017, last bowed out in the second round in 2013.
“I felt much more confident in my game, I served better and I felt so pumped,” said Pella, who reached the third round of a major for the first time. “In the fourth set he broke my serve but I was calm… I think I was playing better than before.”
Determined Isner Moves into Third Round
John Isner saved two match points in the fifth set to overcome Belgian Ruben Bemelmans 6-1 6-4 6-7(6) 6-7(3) 7-5 in three hours 46 minutes to reach the third round.
The big-serving American also fired 64 aces, the third-most at Wimbledon, as he extended his winning streak against qualifiers at grand slams to 10 matches.
Wawrinka Dumped Out by Fabbiano
Swiss Stan Wawrinka suffered a shock 7-6(7) 6-3 7-6(6) defeat by world number 133 Thomas Fabbiano in a match that resumed on Thursday after rain halted play on Wednesday.
Italian Fabbiano saved three set points against three-times grand-slam winner Wawrinka in the second set to advance to the third round of a major for just the second time in his career. South Africa’s Kevin Anderson wrapped up his rain-interrupted match against Andreas Seppi on Court Two winning 6-3 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4.
Barty Wins Battle of Former Junior Champions
Australia’s Ashleigh Barty beat Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard 6-4 7-5 in a match between former Wimbledon girls champions. Barty won the junior title in 2011 while Bouchard claimed the title the following year. Victory meant that Barty has a tour-leading 12 grasscourt victories this year.
Gavrilova Knocks Out Stosur
Daria Gavrilova eased past Australian compatriot Samantha Stosur 6-4 6-1 in 81 minutes to reach the third round at a major for just the fourth time in her career. Victory also meant that 26th seed Gavrilova improved her career head-to-head record against 34-year-old Stosur to 3-3 after their fourth meeting of the season.
Osaka Advances with Easy Win over Boulter
Japan’s Naomi Osaka, seeded 18th, hit 24 winners and converted three out of four break points to power past local hope Katie Boulter 6-3 6-4 and reach the third round.