World No. 1 Serena Williams and her sister Venus are one match away from a titanic fourth round meeting, while the men’s No. 5 seed exited Wimbledon without setting foot on the court on Wednesday at the All England Club.
Serena Williams needed less than an hour to beat Timea Babos 6-4, 6-1, setting up a meeting with Brit No. 1 Heather Watson and her supporting Wimbledon fans.
“I think it will be a huge advantage for [Watson],” said Serena of the Brit’s home court advantage. “It’s going to be a great big match for us both…I feel like she does really well on grass — like she played well in Eastbourne a couple of times. And she had a really good win today [beating Daniela Hantuchova].”
The No. 16-seeded Venus beat Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 7-6(5), 6-4.
Other Top 10-seeded winners were No. 4 Maria Sharapova handling Dutchwoman Richel Hogenkamp 6-3, 6-1, and No. 6 Lucie Safarova who defeated Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei 6-2, 6-3.
“Overall, it was different conditions that my first round match,” said Sharapova, who will next meet No. 29 Irina Begu, who needed three sets to get by Lesia Tsurenko. “The court played a lot slower. We had a lot longer rallies. I didn’t get a huge advantage off the serve or the return today — I didn’t serve my best — and maybe I made a few too many unforced errors. But overall, once we got into the rallies, once I realized I needed to be a little more patient, then things started working a little better for me.”
A Top 10er failing to advance was No. 7 Ana Ivanovic, who was befuddled by the all-court game of American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-3, 6-4.
“I think the hip surgery [at the end of last year] and being out that long really gave me a perspective on playing and enjoying tennis,” Mattek-Sands said. “Last year I was watching all these matches in my house — and with this weather I feel like I’m back in Florida!…I’m here to play my game, I play aggressive and that’s what I’m going to do going forward.”
Orchestrating upset on the day were American CoCo Vandeweghe out-serving No. 11 Karolina Pliskova 7-6(5), 6-4, and Serbian Aleksandra Krunic dismissing No. 19 Sara Errani 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2. Krunic will next face Venus Williams.
Lower seeds moving on were No. 14 Andrea Petkovic, No. 21 Madison Keys finishing off Swiss Stefanie Voegele in a darkness-delayed match from the previous day in three sets, No. 22 Samantha Stosur, No. 23 Victoria Azarenka, and No. 30 Belinda Bencic who outlasted German Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-0 in the third.
All-unseeded results of note were France’s Kristina Mladenovic beating reigning Wimbledon junior champ Jelena Ostapenko, and Sloane Stephens winning an all-American affair against Lauren Davis, both in straight sets.
On the men’s side No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori, who ground through a tough five-setter in his opener, gave a walkover to Colombian Santiago Giraldo when the Japanese exited the event citing a calf injury.
The top seeds on the men’s side all advanced fairly comfortably, save No. 9 Marin Cilic who needed five sets to fend off Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(6), 4-6, 7-5.
“The match was very, very high quality match,” said Cilic, who will next meet No. 17 John Isner in a serving contest. “I think Ricardas was playing extremely well…I was serving really, really well and I was staying mentally in the match. I saved a couple of break points at end of the fifth, and I think nerves got to Ricardas at the end, and that, I think, decided a little bit.”
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was a comfortable 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 winner over Jarkko Nieminen in the Finn’s final Wimbledon appearance; No. 4 Stan Wawrinka defeated Victor Estrella 6-3, 6-4, 7-5; and No. 7 Milos Raonic held off a late charge from crowd favorite and former world No. 2 Tommy Haas 6-0, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-6(4) to move into the third round.
Djokovic will next meet the No. 27 seed Bernard Tomic, who faced down 21 aces from Pierre-Hugues Herbert in a 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-6(5) win.
“I do expect him to serve well, and I do expect him to mix up the game, come up with a lot of variety,” Djokovic said of player nicknamed Tomic the Tank Engine for his flame-outs during matches. “That’s what he does. He’s got a lot of talent in his hands. This is the surface that he loves playing the most on. So it’s going to be a difficult match.”
Raonic will next meet the combustible, unpredictable, virus-ridden No. 26 seed Nick Kyrgios, who was a 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-4 winner over Juan Monaco.
“I’ve just had a little bit of a sinus infection the last couple weeks,” Kyrgios said. “It’s getting to the end stages of it, but it’s still affecting me a little bit. It’s going to go away eventually. It’s pretty annoying at the start of matches. [I] started getting blurry vision. I thought I dug out the first set well. Obviously lifted my energy towards the second and third.”
Showing a bit of his old form was Spain’s Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco, who used his big lefty forehand to upset No. 32 seed Dominic Thiem in five sets 5-7, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. Verdasco will next meet Wawrinka.
Other lower seeds in the winner’s circle were No. 11 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 14 Kevin Anderson, No. 16 David Goffin, No. 21 Richard Gasquet, and No. 24 Leonardo Mayer.
Dimitrov beat Steve Johnson 7-6(8), 6-2, 7-6(2), and will next meet Gasquet.
“Obviously it’s good to go through certain matches in that way, especially in straight sets,” Dimitrov said. “With every match I feel that my game is getting better, but I still feel that there are a couple of things I need to sort of tune up, especially for the next round.”
Matches to look for on Thursday at the All England Club include (2) Roger Federer vs. Sam Querrey, (10) Rafael Nadal vs. “Smokin'” Dustin Brown, and (6) Tomas Berdych vs. Nicolas Mahut.
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