WIMBLEDON - Nadal, Djokovic win; Cilic and Wawrinka stunned
LONDON, July 5, 2018 (News Wires) - The scoreboard said 6-4 6-3 6-4 to Rafael Nadal but it was an uneasy two-and-a-half hours for the Spanish world No 1 as he laboured past Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin into the Wimbledon third round on Thursday.
Two-time champion Nadal, 32, never quite got to grips with the unorthodox Kazakh's low, skidding shots and faced 13 break points in an entertaining Centre Court contest.
Had Kukushkin converted a few more of them it could have got really complicated for Nadal, who is still finding his grasscourt game after claiming an 11th French Open title.
Nadal took 10 minutes to hold his opening service game and was still being asked questions by the world number 77 in the third when he slipped 3-1 behind in the face of some inspired shot-making by his opponent.
The 17-times Grand Slam champion dug in though and managed to avoid being dragged further into the afternoon, claiming victory when Kukushkin's forehand smacked into the net tape.
Nadal will face Australian teenager Alex De Minaur next.
DJOKOVIC INTO THIRD ROUND
Novak Djokovic made it through to the third round with a straight sets win over Horacio Zeballos of Argentina.
The former world No 1, seeded 12th at the All England Club as he makes his way back from an elbow injury, won 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 for his 60th win at the tournament.
The three-time Wimbledon champion, more used to playing on the main Centre Court or Court One arenas, was in the strange position of playing on the 4 000-seater Court Two.
Djokovic had treatment on his left thigh in the third set but overcame the problem to see out the set.
He faces either British 21st seed Kyle Edmund or US qualifier Bradley Klahn in Saturday's third round.
CILIC SUFFERS SHOCK EXIT
Wimbledon 2017 runner-up Marin Cilic, a favourite to go far in the tournament again this year, suffered a shock 3-6 1-6 6-4 7-6(3) 7-5 defeat by Argentine Guido Pella.
The Croatian third seed began the day two sets up but 4-3 down on Pella's serve in the third, following Wednesday evening's halt for rain and found his opponent very much up for the fight.
Pella wrapped up the third set comfortably, then shaded an exciting fourth set that included two breaks of serve for each player with Pella taking command in the tiebreak to clinch it 7-3.
The deciding set went with serve until Pella clinched it on his fourth match point after Cilic had already saved two in the 10th game and another when 30-40 down.
WAWRINKA BOWS OUT
Stan Wawrinka's poor run at recent Grand Slams continued when the Swiss lost 7-6(7) 6-3 7-6(6) against Italian journeyman Thomas Fabbiano.
Wawrinka, winner of three Grand Slam tournaments, trailed by two sets overnight but was 6-5 ahead in the third when play resumed in muggy conditions.
He then had two set points in the tiebreak but could not convert either, spraying one backhand well wide, and the 29-year-old qualifier Fabbiano completed the biggest victory of his career.
Since reaching least year's French Open final Wawrinka has tumbled down the rankings from three to his current 224, mainly as a consequence of the knee surgery he required last year.
He lost in the first round of the French Open this year, the second round in Australia and at last year's Wimbledon he was knocked out in round one. He did not play the US Open.
Fabbiano, ranked 133rd, goes on to play either American Jared Donaldson or Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round -- the furthest he has ever been in a Grand Slam.
ISNER SAVES MATCH POINTS TO ADVANCE
John Isner almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory but survived to beat Belgian qualifier Ruben Bemelman in a delayed second-round match.
The American ninth seed eventually won 6-1 6-4 6-7(3) 6-7(6) 7-5 but he came desperately close to another Wimbledon failure.
On Wednesday, he led two sets to love and held a match point in the third set but the 105th-ranked Bemelmans stormed back to win two tiebreaks and level the match before rain intervened.
On the resumption Bemelmans came close to a big shock when Isner served at 4-5 and trailed 15-40 but he saved both match points with booming aces, two of the 64 he sent down -- the fourth highest total ever at Wimbledon.
Bemelmans tightened up at 4-5 and double-faulted on the way to being broken and Isner wrapped up victory, despite facing a break point, in the following game as he forced an error.
Isner now has the chance to record his best Wimbledon performance, having never been past the third round.
To achieve that he will have to get past Moldovan Radu Albot who beat Slovenian Aljaz Bedene in five sets.