LONDON: World number five Stefanos Tsitsipas sailed into the third round with a 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 win over Australia’s Jordan Thompson at Wimbledon on Thursday, setting up a mouthwatering third-round match against Australian maverick Nick Kyrgios.
Early second-round action at the All England Club was overshadowed by the withdrawal of Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut — the third player to pull out with Covid.
Spanish 17th seed Bautista Agut became the third potential dangerman in Rafael Nadal’s half of the draw to pull out with coronavirus, following the withdrawals of 2021 runner-up Matteo Berrettini and 2017 finalist Marin Cilic.
Nadal has also benefited from a shock first-round exit for Canada’s sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Greek fourth seed Tsitsipas and the temperamental Kyrgios remain major threats to the 36-year-old Spaniard’s hopes for a third Wimbledon crown.
Kyrgios was on his best behaviour on court as he steamrollered Serbian 26th seed Filip Krajinovic 6-2, 6-3, 6-1.
The 27-year-old, who made the quarter-finals on debut at the All England Club in 2014, did not face a single break point.
“I just wanted to remind everyone that I am pretty good,” he said. “I was nowhere near my best in the first round but today I was in my zone.” Kyrgios’s five-set opening win over Paul Jubb of Britain was marred by his admission that he spat in the direction of fans, accusing them of being disrespectful.
In his post-match news conference on Thursday, he was his usual combative self, taking aim at the media for their coverage of his opening encounter.
“There was just nothing the media possibly could tell me I did wrong today,” he said. “I just know that you can’t possibly ask me anything and stir anything up.”
American 11th seed Taylor Fritz produced an impressive display to knock out Briton Alastair Gray 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.
In the women’s tournament, Karolina Pliskova, last year’s beaten finalist, suffered a shock 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 defeat to British wildcard Katie Boulter while women’s fourth seed Paula Badosa set up a clash against two-time champion Petra Kvitova.
Boulter, the world number 118, will next face Serena Williams’ conqueror Harmony Tan. Unseeded Frenchwoman Tan stormed into round three with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Spanish 32nd seed Sara Sorribes Tormo.
Badosa beat Romania’s Irina Bara in straight sets while Czech 25th seed Kvitova came through 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) against Ana Bogdan, also from Romania.
American eighth seed Jessica Pegula overcame a stuttering start to clinch a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Briton Harriet Dart while former Roland Garros winner Barbora Krejcikova won back-to-back matches for the first time since the Australian Open as she beat Swiss Viktorija Golubic 6-3, 6-4.
Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu exited in the second round after going down 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) to Kazakh 17th seed Elena Rybakina.
On Wednesday, home favourites Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray were among the Grand Slam champions who made swift exits from Wimbledon, a day after a total of 10 Britons moved into the second round of their home slam.
Tenth seed Raducanu was beaten 6-3, 6-3 by Caroline Garcia, ending the reigning US Open champion’s run and underlining why the Frenchwoman was a former top-five player herself.
“I really enjoyed playing on Centre Court, it was my first time and very special,” said Garcia, who fired 25 winners past the British teenager.
The Centre Court crowd then watched on as John Isner beat Andy Murray for the first time in his career, with the big-serving 37-year-old American triumphing 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (3-7), 6-4 under the floodlights with the roof closed.
Murray, now 52 in the rankings, failed to break serve once against 2018 semi-finalist Isner, who unleashed 36 aces and 82 winners in total.
“He didn’t give me lots of chances,” said Murray, whose previous earliest exits came in the third round in 2005 and 2021. “My game was in a good place. I felt good on the court, just couldn’t get the win.”
Britain’s Ryan Peniston was ousted in straight sets by American Steve Johnson.
British number one Cameron Norrie gave the home fans reason to cheer, however, after overcoming Jaume Munar 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-0, 6-2.
Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz moved into the third round for the first time in his career after the fifth seed beat Tallon Griekspoor 6-4, 7-6 (7-0), 6-3 as did Italian 10th seed Jannik Sinner, who overcame a third-set wobble to beat Mikael Ymer 6-4. 6-3. 5-7. 6-2.
But big-serving 15th seed Reilly Opelka’s tournament was ended by Dutchman Tim van Rijthoven as the American went down 6-4, 6-7 (8-10), 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-4) in the second round.
Women’s third seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia hardly broke a sweat as she swept into round three with a 6-4, 6-0 thrashing of Poland’s Katarzyna Kawa while Greek fifth seed Maria Sakkari advanced with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomova.
Former champion Angelique Kerber was barely troubled in her 50th match at Wimbledon as she dispatched Poland’s Magda Linette 6-3, 6-3.
Published in Dawn, July 1st, 2022