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Wimbledon: Djokovic cruises, Sabalenka & Murray survive

  • Matt Trollope

Novak Djokovic took a step closer to a men’s record-equalling 20th major title thanks to a straight-sets victory over Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon.

The two-time defending champion was one of several comfortable winners in the men’s draw on Wednesday, with Andrey Rublev, Diego Schwartzman, Frances Tiafoe and Sebastian Korda also reaching the third round.

Anything but comfortable was Andy Murray’s thrilling come-from-behind triumph over qualifier Oscar Otte, yet it delivered the former world No.1 his best Grand Slam result in four years.  

Women’s No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka survived a three-set scare against British hope Katie Boulter to seal her place in the last 32, where she was joined by Iga Swiatek, Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova and Sloane Stephens

However, No.4 seed Sofia Kenin and fifth seed Bianca Andreescu crashed out.

Djokovic on course as Murray and Berrettini win

Djokovic, aiming for a third straight major title after winning this year’s Australian and French Opens, needed just one hour and 41 minutes to dismiss Anderson 6-3 6-3 6-3 in a rematch of their 2018 Wimbledon final.

He committed just six unforced errors on his way to setting up a third-round meeting with qualifier Denis Kudla. 

Murray, meanwhile, recovered from two-sets-to-one down to defeat Otte and advance to the third round at a major for the first time since Wimbledon in 2017; there he will face 10th seed Denis Shapovalov.

After two rainy days at Wimbledon, improved weather helped tournament organisers complete a back-log of first-round matches.

DRAW: Wimbledon men’s singles

No.9 seed Matteo Berrettini was a winner of one of those, with the Queen’s champion beating Guido Pella 6-4 3-6 6-4 6-0.

Also reaching round two was Nick Kyrgios, who resumed his match at 3-3 in the fifth set against Ugo Humbert before beating the Halle winner 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-1 9-7 – a repeat of his five-set victory over the Frenchman at AO 2021.

Kyrgios was one of four Australian first-round winners on Wednesday; Jordan Thompson upset No.12 seed Casper Ruud in five sets while Ajla Tomljanovic and James Duckworth also advanced. 

Sabalenka, Swiatek, Muguruza through while Venus exits

Down a set to an inspired opponent backed by a passionate crowd, Sabalenka rebounded to beat Boulter 4-6 6-3 6-3 to reach the third round at Wimbledon for the first time in four visits.

Also making her first trip to the third round was seventh seed Swiatek, who brushed 2010 finalist Vera Zvonareva aside for the loss of four games. 

Aryna Sabalenka celebrates her second-round victory over Katie Boulter at Wimbledon
Aryna Sabalenka celebrates her second-round victory over Katie Boulter at Wimbledon. (Getty Images)

There were similarly dominant wins for No.8 seed Pliskova – a 6-2 6-2 victor over Donna Vekic – and 2017 champion Muguruza, who beat Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove 6-1 6-4. 

Muguruza will next face Birmingham champion Ons Jabeur, who won the last nine games of the match to end 41-year-old Venus Williams’ campaign 7-5 6-0.

First-round winners in the women’s draw included third seed Elina Svitolina (over Alison Van Uytvanck), Eastbourne champion Jelena Ostapenko (over Leylah Fernandez) and No.12 seed Victoria Azarenka (over Kateryna Kozlova).

Stat of the day

Djokovic’s victory over Anderson was his 13th straight, with the Serb’s streak taking in earlier victories at the ATP Belgrade tournament, and Roland Garros.

It matches the winning streak of fellow French champion Barbora Krejcikova, who yesterday won her 13th in a row over Clara Tauson.

REPORT: Wimbledon Day 2 - injury derails Serena as Federer escapes

Another player on a hot streak is wildcard Liudmila Samsonova; the WTA Berlin champion extended her unbeaten run to nine with an impressive 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory over No.22 seed Jessica Pegula.

Samsonova will attempt to make it 10 on the trot when she faces Stephens in the third round; the 2017 US Open champion saw off fellow American Kristie Ahn 7-5 6-3. 

Upset of the day

Kenin may well have struggled in 2021, but the AO 2020 champion appeared to be rediscovering some form in her recent run to the fourth round at Roland Garros.

She had also looked solid in her 6-4 6-2 first-round Wimbledon win over Wang Xinyu, but she stumbled badly on Wednesday.

She sprayed 41 enforced errors in a 45-minute loss to Madison Brengle, who goes on to face Viktorija Golubic for a spot in the fourth round.

Andreescu’s 6-2 6-1 loss to Alize Cornet was also shocking, but perhaps less of a surprise when considering Cornet beat the Canadian star only two weeks earlier on the same surface in Berlin.

Tweets of the day

Quotes of the day

“It's been tough. But that's one of the reasons why I'm still playing is because of moments like that. Like, why would you want to give that up (smiling)? The atmosphere ... was good the whole match, but especially the last sort of hour and a half was brilliant. I still enjoy that.”
- Andy Murray

“I know that I have the level, I have the weapons, like I said. Also the mental mindset to get there. But, as I think you guys could see today, every match is a fight, every match is really difficult. Of course, I would like to have a long run, but step by step. I know I can do it, but I know it's going to be tough.”
- Matteo Berrettini, when asked if he could go deep in the tournament.

“I'm proud that I actually could get through this match because I was really emotional in the beginning and I didn't really feel the surface out there. She was playing really great. Of course, crowd was support her more. I felt like everything was against me, and I'm really happy that I could, like, separate myself from the people and everything, and just think about my game, what I have to do.”
- Aryna Sabalenka

“A lot of people were telling me there's no chance, there's no point in you going (to Wimbledon) with that short preparation. I was hearing a load of things. I think it was Gilbert telling me, There's no chance you can come off the couch and compete at this level against players. I'm like, dude, I know my game, I know how to play on grass. I'm not scared of anyone in the draw. I know if I believe and I'm feeling good mentally, I know what I'm capable of.”
- Nick Kyrgios

“I don't think anyone in life has anything to prove, you know. Each and every person can only breathe for themselves. No one else can breathe for you. No one has anything to prove to anyone in this life. The only thing you have to do is pay your taxes or else you're going to jail.”
- Venus Williams

Day 4: Ones to watch

Roger Federer, who said he “definitely got a bit lucky” in his first-round win over the injured Adrian Mannarino, faces another Frenchman, Richard Gasquet, in the final match of Thursday’s Centre Court schedule. 

Federer has not lost to Gasquet in more than 10 years, winning 18 of their 20 career meetings.

ORDER OF PLAY: Wimbledon Day 4

Federer is preceded on Centre Court by young star Coco Gauff – who faces Elena Vesnina, the 34-year-old Russian on the comeback trail after becoming a mother – and world No.1 Ash Barty, who opens play against Anna Blinkova.

Court No.1 features an intriguing battle between second seed Daniil Medvedev and Spanish 18-year-old talent Carlos Alcaraz, who won a five-set, four-hour match on Wednesday against Yasutaka Uchiyama.