Former champions Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic battled into the Wimbledon third round on Thursday but third seed and 2017 runner-up Marin Cilic crashed out. Reigning world number one and Roland Garros champion Nadal defeated Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 and will next face Australian teenager Alex de Minaur. Also Read - Tennis: US Open 2020 Reduces Prize Money Amid Covid-19 Pandemic, Singles Champions to Get $850K Less
On the other side, three-time All England champion Djokovic needed treatment on his left thigh on court two but still had too many weapons for Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos, winning in straight sets 6-1, 6-2, 6-3. Djokovic has now made the third round for 10 consecutive years and will face either British 21st seed Kyle Edmund or US qualifier Bradley Klahn.
Cilic blew a two-set lead in his 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 7-5 loss to Argentina’s Guido Pella, ranked at 82.
When rain forced the tie to be postponed on Wednesday, Cilic was leading by two sets against an opponent who had never won a match at Wimbledon before this year.
But the Croatian collapsed once the match resumed on Court One on Thursday and Pella took full advantage to set up a third-round clash with Mackenzie McDonald.
Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion, had been expected to mount a strong challenge for the Wimbledon title after winning the grass-court warm-up at Queen’s Club two weeks ago. But his defeat is good news for defending champion Roger Federer, who was on course to face Cilic in the semi-finals.
For Djokovic, meanwhile, victory was his 60th at Wimbledon — making him just the fifth man to claim 60 wins at the All England Club in the Open Era.
Djokovic hit 15 aces and 31 winners in a commanding win over 33-year-old Zeballos, who was a top 40 player in 2013 but was playing at Wimbledon ranked a lowly 126.
In the other match, Italian qualifier Thomas Fabbiano on Thursday knocked out former world No. 3 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland 7-6 (9-7), 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) to book a place in the third round of Wimbledon, equaling his best run ever in a Grand Slam tournament.
The match was played over two days, as rain and nightfall forced the encounter to be suspended on Wednesday while the Italian, world No. 133, was trailing 5-6 in the third set and on serve.
When the match was resumed, Fabbiano held serve and managed to clinch the third set tie-break, earning his first career win over Wawrinka, who struggled to regain form. The three-time Grand champion Wawrinka, currently world No. 224, missed the later part of the last season due to a knee injury that required surgery.
Next up for Fabbiano, who had reached the 2017 US Open third round, will be Stefano Tsitsipas of Greece, who defeated United States’ Jared Donaldson 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3.
John Isner, the US ninth seed, saved two match points, fired 64 aces and 88 winners to defeat Belgian qualifier Ruben Bemelmans 6-1, 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-7 (3/7), 7-5.
Nick Kyrgios, seeded 15, unleashed 42 winners to see off Robin Haase of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-4, 7-5. Kyrgios could next face lucky loser Bernard Tomic if his Australian compatriot can shock Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
In the women’s singles, Germany’s Angelique Kerber, the No. 11 seed, on Thursday, booked a place to Wimbledon’s third round for the seventh time in her career after knocking out United States’ qualifier Claire Liu 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
The two-time Grand Slam champion took one hour and 54 minutes to end Liu’s first Wimbledon’s appearance, reports Efe.
Kerber is set to take on next ranked and seeded No. 18, Naomi Osaka of Japan, who prevailed over Britain’s Katie Boulter 6-3, 6-4.
In other Wimbledon action, ranked and seeded No. 17 Ashleigh Barty of Australia reached The Championships’ round of 32 after defeating Canada’s qualifier Eugenie Bouchard 6-4, 7-5 in one hour and 31 minutes.
Barty is set to square off against world No. 14 Daria Kasatkina of Russia who beat world No. 53 Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-3.
(With Agency Inputs)