Djokovic into Wimbledon third round for 11th year in row

LONDON (AFP) – Four-time champion Novak Djokovic reached the Wimbledon third round for the 11th successive year on Wednesday night.

Top seed Djokovic hit 13 aces and 37 winners as he eased past Denis Kudla of the United States, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

“I’m pleased with my game overall. There were some moments in the match where maybe I could have done better,” said the defending champion.

“But overall, a solid performance. I was returning well, I was serving mostly well. I’m really glad to overcome the challenge.”

Djokovic goes on to face Hubert Hurkacz for a place in the last 16 having defeated the Pole in straight sets in the first round at Roland Garros in May.

Victory in that match could see him face 18-year-old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, the youngest man in the draw.

Novak Djokovic returns to Denis Kudla in the men’s singles match of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London. – AP

The 19th seed saw off French qualifier Corentin Moutet 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 to make the third round of a Slam for the first time.

Last year’s beaten finalist Kevin Anderson, the South African fourth seed, also progressed with a 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-4 victory over Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia.

Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan who was forced to retire when just two points from victory against Ukraine eighth seed Elina Svitolina.

World number 62 Gasparyan was 7-5, 5-4 ahead when she collapsed to the ground on Court Three, suffering with cramping.

Although she bravely tried to continue, the Russian, who has undergone three knee surgeries in her career, was forced to quit.

“I was shocked, it’s never nice to get this when someone is injured like that,” said Svitolina who goes on to face Greece’s Maria Sakkari for a place in the last 16.

“It’s really unfortunate for her.”

Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco staged the comeback of the day when he recovered from two sets and 3-0 down to defeat British number one Kyle Edmund 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-4.

Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova reached the last 32 with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Puerto Rico’s Olympic champion Monica Puig.

Pliskova, one of four players who could end Wimbledon as world number one, will face Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan for a spot in the fourth round.

In a match which opened proceedings on Centre Court, 52nd-ranked Puig was clearly over-awed, winning just nine points in a 20-minute first set.

Former world number one and double Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka swept past Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic 6-2, 6-0.

Azarenka, now at 40 in the world, was a semi-finalist at the All England Club in 2011 and 2012.

Next up is a last-32 clash with fellow ex-world number one Simona Halep who defeated fellow Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

“We have had very tough matches in the past,” said Halep, who is 2-2 in career meetings with the 29-year-old Azarenka.

One of those wins came at Wimbledon in 2017 in the fourth round while it’s been seven years since Azarenka beat Halep.