Friday, 14 December 2018

Nadal kills curse of 100 club at Wimbledon as Kvitova crashes

LONDON: World number one Rafael Nadal breezed into the Wimbledon second round Tuesday but fellow two-time champion and title favourite Petra Kvitova crashed out.

Nadal cruised to a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 win over Israel’s Dudi Sela as the Spaniard returned to action for the first time since claiming his 11th French Open title. Nadal, the Wimbledon champion in 2008 and 2010, also managed to avoid falling victim to a player ranked outside the world top 100 for what would have been the fifth time in his last six visits to the All England Club.

Eight seed Kvitova, who was the bookmakers’ favourite to add the 2018 title to her 2011 and 2014 victories, was stunned 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 by unheralded Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich, the world number 50. Kvitova has won five titles in 2018, including the grass-court tournament at Birmingham last weekend, while amassing an WTA Tour-leading 38 match victories.

Number four Sloane Stephens and fifth seeded Elina Svitolina were eliminated on Monday. France’s Caroline Garcia, seeded six, was also beaten Tuesday, going down 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 to Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic. There was also similar carnage in the men’s top 10. After sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov was sent packing on Monday, it was the turn of Roland Garros runner-up Dominic Thiem and Belgium’s David Goffin to pack their bags. Austrian seventh seed Thiem retired with a back injury against Cypriot veteran Marcos Baghdatis, trailing 6-4, 7-5, 2-0. Goffin, the 10th seed, slumped to a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 loss to Australia’s Matthew Ebden. Argentine fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro made it nine first round wins in nine appearances at the tournament, easing past Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

Del Potro, who made the semi-finals in 2013, next faces Feliciano Lopez of Spain who on Tuesday set a record of playing 66 consecutive Grand Slams when he eased past Federico Delbonis of Argentina 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Left-handed Lopez made his debut at the majors at the 2001 French Open.

On Tuesday, the 36-year-old broke the record for straight Slams which was previously held by Roger Federer. “When I was about to break the record, I thought, wow, I’m going to beat Federer at something!” joked the 70th-ranked Lopez who has lost all 13 matches he has played against Federer in his career.

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