Wimbledon: Relentless Djokovic sees off qualifier; Top seed was in full control as he beat American Denis Kudla in straight sets
AFP

Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic improved to 17-0 in Grand Slam matches this year by beating American qualifier Denis Kudla in the third round at Wimbledon, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7).

The top-ranked Djokovic has also won 17 consecutive matches at Wimbledon, where he is the two-time defending champion.

He double-faulted on his first two service points in the tiebreaker but then took advantage of several shaky Kudla forehands to close out the win.

Djokovic had 28 unforced errors after committing only six in the second round. His opponent Monday will be No. 17-seeded Cristian Garín of Chile, who beat Pedro Martínez 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

A gulf in ranking translated into a chasm on the grass as the world’s best player showed the door to American qualifier Denis Kudla.

Novak Djokovic is not someone who succumbs often to shock set-backs. In fact he has only ever lost a Grand Slam match to a player ranked as low as No.114 Kudla once before (Australian Open 2017 against No.117 Denis Istomin).

There was no chance of a repeat in this No.1 Court meeting with another Denis, whom he has played twice before with similar results including a straight sets win in the second round at The Championships 2019.

While Kudla can head home knowing he put up a more-than-creditable show against the top seed, Djokovic will have seen this match as a small stepping stone to his end game of a sixth Wimbledon title.

Kudla, cheered on by the crowd who have a tendency to take the side of the feisty underdog, battled for every point as Djokovic steered a course through the first two sets.

To their delight, he went toe to toe in the third set, all the way to the tie-break but could not quite extend the occasion.

Also marching ahead, was the fifth seed Andrey Rublev defeated Fabio Fognini 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 in under three hours to enter the fourth round of Wimbledon Championships on Friday.

Rublev converted five of the 13 break-points, fired 13 aces and won 73 per cent of first service points.

The 23-year-old, who is world No. 7, won the first set in 43 minutes. The Italian came back in the second set after having conceded an early lead. He won three straight games after being 2-4 down to clinch the set. However, the Russian took the third set and in the fourth, he simply cruised. He won five straight games after being 0-1 down.

Earlier, Rublev's fellow countryman Karen Khachanov defeated Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 46 minutes.

Igor Andreev, Nikolay Davydenko, and Mikhail Youzhny reached fourth round at 2007 Australian Open while Medvedev, Rublev and Aslan Karatsev did that at this year's Australian Open.

Among other early winners on Friday were 17th seed Cristian Garin, who defeated Pedro Martinez 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, and Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat Dominik Koepfer 7-5, 6-1, 7-6(4).

Bopanna-Mirza win historic encounter

The experienced pair of Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza defeated the brand new combination of Ramkumar Ramanathan and Ankita Raina 6-2 7-6 (5) in the historic all-Indian mixed doubles first round match at the Wimbledon here on Friday. It was the first time in open era that two Indian teams competed against each other at a Grand Slam tournament. The contest finally brought a Grand Slam debut for Ramkumar, who has made 21 attempts to qualify for the singles main draw of a tennis major.

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