Three more seeds were sent out of the men’s draw at Wimbledon, but the favorites marched on.
Still no where near his peak level on grass, Rafael Nadal toughed out Ricardis Berankis 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in just over three hours.
“Every day is a challenge, that’s the truth. All the opponents are difficult. We are playing against the best players of the world and especially even in these conditions, it will be more. I didn’t play much on grass for the past three years,” Nadal said on court. “Every day is an opportunity to improve and today I’m through, so that gives me the chance to keep going. Very happy for that.”
Berankis came to play matching the 2-time Wimbledon champion in winners (35), but Nadal had the better of the Lithuanian’s serve, though only broke 4 of 16 chances.
Nadal, who has won his last 16 matches in Slams, moves on to face Lorenzo Sonego on Saturday in the third round.
The next highest seed in the bottom half, Stefanos Tsitsipas, advanced with a straight-set 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 win over Jordan Thompson.
Into his second Wimbledon third round, the Greek has won his last six matches on his least favorite, least successful surface. But he’s making strides.
“It was a great match today. I got the crowd involved and even though I am not a Brit, I really felt the love from the crowd and that pushed me,” Tsitsipas said on court.
“Last year was a completely different story to this year,” he said about last year’s first round loss. “I wasn’t really that involved with [my movement] behind the ball. It is great to see that evolution this year. I feel grass suites my game perfectly. I am happy when I see the level of tennis I played today. As long as everything works, I am happy to see where that will lead me.”
Tsitsipas’s win sets up a tasty third rounder with Nick Kyrgios. The Australian put together one of his best wins destroying Queen’s finalist Filip Krajinovic 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 in 85 minutes. Kyrgios, who made the 2014 Wimbledon quarters, pounded 50 winners including 24 aces in the romp.
“I have been playing some really good tennis in the past month, so I was really surprised with the way I played the other day,” said Kyrgios. “It wasn’t great. But there were a lot of positive. I didn’t play anywhere near my best but got through it. Today I was in my zone, great body language, just played well. I just wanted to remind everyone that I am pretty good.”
Kyrgios just beat Tsitsipas in Halle in three sets.
“I feel that there isn’t a single person here who doesn’t know Nick. We have played each other and had great matches against each other in many tour-level matches,” Tsitsipas said. “I have great respect for his game, that he can utilise his talents. Really fight when he really wants to. It is going to be a challenging one on grass. He is a big opponent on this surface.”
At the start of the day, the tournament was hit with its third withdrawal due to COVID as 2019 semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut tested positive.
A semifinalist a year ago, Denis Shapovalov couldn’t find the range suffering his seventh loss in his last eight matches going down in four sets to American 20-year-old Brandon Nakashima 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(6).
Nakashima’s countrymen Taylor Fritz and Jenson Brooksby also advanced to the third round.
Liam Broady enjoyed his biggest moment as a pro. The 28-year-old made it to his first Slam third round with a stunning rally to knock out Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 4-6, 0-6, 7-6(6), 6-1. Broad, who lost to Schwartzman in the second round last year, was down 3-0 in the fourth but came back for his best career win.
Broady’s countryman Jack Draper wasn’t as fortunate. After a powerful display in the fourth set, the 20-year-old left fell to Alex De Minaur in four sets.
Tomorrow, Novak Djokovic takes on fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic for a spot in the fourth round. Carlos Alcaraz meets Oscar Otte and fresh off his big win over Andy Murray, John Isner returns to take on Jannik Sinner.
Isner stands just five aces from passing Ivo Karlovic on the career ace leaderboard.
British No. 1 Cameron Norrie is also in action on Centre Court against Steve Johnson.
FRIDAY WIMBLEDON SCHEDULE
CENTRE COURT – 1:30PM
1. Diane Parry v Ons Jabeur
2. Novak Djokovic v Miomir Kecmanovic
3. Cameron Norrie v Steve Johnson
NO.1 COURT – 1:00PM
1. Heather Watson v Kaja Juvan
2. Angelique Kerber v Elise Mertens
3. Oscar Otte v Carlos Alcaraz
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