Nadal centre stage at Wimbledon as Tsitsipas sets up Kyrgios clash

By: AFP
Published: 10:05 PM, 30 Jun, 2022
Nadal centre stage at Wimbledon as Tsitsipas sets up Kyrgios clash
Caption: Spain's Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis during their men's singles tennis match on the fourth day of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon.
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Rafael Nadal topped the bill at Wimbledon on Thursday as Stefanos Tsitsipas set 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.

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.

Second seed Nadal, hunting a rare calendar Grand Slam, was taking on Lithuanian journeyman Ricardas Berankis on Centre Court with his path to the semi-finals opening up.

Spanish 17th seed Bautista Agut became the third potential dangerman in 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, who took him to five sets at the French Open.

Greek fourth seed Tsitsipas and the temperamental Kyrgios remain major threats to the 36-year-old Spaniard's hopes for a third Wimbledon crown.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion struggled with crippling foot pain at Roland Garros but has received treatment aimed at reducing the pain and was moving freely in his first-round match on Tuesday.

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.

Stir up

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."

Tsitsipas defeated Australia's Jordan Thompson 6-2, 6-3, 7-5.

"I feel like everyone here knows who Nick is," said Tsitsipas.

"We have had many great matches against each other. I respect him for his game and the way he fights when he wants to."

Seeds have also tumbled on the other side of the men's draw, with notable early losers including third seed Casper Ruud and last year's semi-finalist Hubert Hurkacz.

But top seed Novak Djokovic, seeking to draw level with Pete Sampras on seven Wimbledon titles, is already safely through to the last 32.

Earlier, Bautista Agut said he had "notified Wimbledon of his withdrawal" after testing positive for Covid-19.

The tournament was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic while the 2021 edition was run at reduced capacity with players confined to a bubble, but this year it is back to business as usual at the All England Club.

In the women's tournament, Britain's Boulter came from behind to beat Pliskova, dedicating her win to her late grandmother, who died this week.

"I am literally shaking," said the world number 118, who will next face Serena Williams's conqueror Harmony Tan.

"The crowd was unbelievable so thank you for getting me through that," she said.

"I'm probably going to get emotional. My grandmother died two days ago so I'd like to dedicate that to her today."

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.

Top seed Iga Swiatek, who has won her past six tournaments, was in action against Dutch player Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove, looking to extend her winning run to 37 matches.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.