Beaming Brit Heather Watson got her reward for years of persistence at Wimbledon by reaching round four of a singles grand slam for the first time.

Watson also earned herself a rare day off, after a hectic start to her campaign, by racking up a 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 victory over 21-year-old Slovenian Kaja Juvan.

In singles, Watson is a four-time WTA event winner and this was a 43rd grand slam main-draw appearance, yet she had only reached the third round in a major four times before this campaign.

Watson, who has lost in round one on all 10 of her US Open singles appearances, now has a last-16 match at Wimbledon inked into her diary, achieving at the age of 30 what many thought would come much earlier in her career. Germany's Jule Niemeier awaits Watson, with a quarter-final place on the line.

Guernsey star Watson's previous best Wimbledon singles runs came in 2012, 2015 and 2017, when she was halted by Agnieszka Radwanska, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka respectively.

In mixed doubles, she was a champion with Finland's Henri Kontinen in 2016 and a runner-up in 2017, but singles is where it matters most.

This week she has faced Tamara Korpatsch, Wang Qiang and world number 62 Juvan, a kind run compared to previous Wimbledons, and Watson has taken advantage. She has unusually had to play every day so far, however, with her first-round and second-round matches both spanning two days.

A former world number 38, Watson has drifted to 121st in the WTA rankings. She won just five games when well beaten by Juvan at last year's US Open, but this time it was Watson's day.

It was a match she would have fancied, given Juvan had already lost four times this season to players ranked outside the top 100.

Watson said in an on-court BBC interview: "Wow, what an atmosphere. I actually wasn't that nervous, but first time in the fourth round, I'm so happy. I'm not speechless because I'm blabbing on, but I don't know what to say. It means everything."

She has taken inspiration from seeing fellow Britons Katie Boulter, Cameron Norrie and Liam Broady battle through early matches.

"It really helps. I've watched all of their matches," Watson said. "It's really inspiring, and we're all egging each other on."

Rafael Nadal fended off a second early test of his Wimbledon mettle as he took four sets to see off Ricardas Berankis on Thursday.

Just as in his opener against Francisco Cerundolo, Nadal dropped the third set of this match, but he regrouped, as he had two days earlier, to finish it in four.

A 6-4 6-4 4-6 6-3 victory for the 36-year-old will do the job for round two, but it was laboured at times on Centre Court from Nadal, a day after title favourite Novak Djokovic delivered a masterclass against Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Australian Open and French Open champion Nadal sealed it with an ace, his 16th consecutive win in a grand slam match, and the lack of polish at this early stage can be forgiven, given his lack of preparation on grass as he underwent treatment on his troublesome foot.

World number 106 Berankis forced breaks to lead early in the second and third sets, and although the Lithuanian was pegged back quickly enough by Nadal on the first occasion, he held his nerve to take the third set.

A rain delay came when Nadal was 3-0 clear in the fourth set, and that was only an inconvenience, Nadal wasting little time in finishing the job.

With Matteo Berrettini and Roberto Bautista Agut both pulling out of Nadal's half of the draw due to COVID-19, and Denis Shapovalov losing on Thursday to Brandon Nakashima after reaching the semi-finals last year, it is hard to see who might deny the Spanish two-time champion a place in the final, unless Nick Kyrgios or Stefanos Tsitsipas fancy the task. Italian Lorenzo Sonego will be the next to try.

Nadal said: "Every day is a challenge. That's the truth. I didn't play much on grass in the last three years. I need to improve, but I think the fourth set was much better. I think it was a good level of tennis in that set and the serve worked much better at the end of the match and I was able to play more aggressive, while at the beginning there were too many mistakes.

"It's important for me to accept things are not perfect and just keep working, be humble and accept the challenge."

Data slam: Going past Martina

Nadal took his total of singles grand slam wins to 307 with this victory, taking him one ahead of Martina Navratilova, the nine-time Wimbledon champion.

He moves up to fourth place on the all-time list for singles wins in the majors, behind only Roger Federer, who leads the way, Serena Williams and Djokovic.

Nadal of course leads the men's slam race with an unmatched 22 slams.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 35/39
Berankis – 35/35

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 13/4
Berankis – 3/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 4/16
Berankis – 2/5

Nick Kyrgios took a swipe at his critics after storming to a mesmerisingly brilliant second-round win at Wimbledon, setting up an appetising clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The 27-year-old Australian was largely all business and no nonsense as he won 6-2 6-3 6-1 in one hour and 25 minutes against 26th seed Filip Krajinovic, delivering the kind of performance that underlines his potential threat at this tournament.

Yet Kyrgios had been far from his best against British player Paul Jubb in round one, eventually forcing victory by taking a tight fifth set, and his on-court behaviour came in for close scrutiny too in that match.

Against Jubb, a line judge was prompted to speak to the chair umpire about Kyrgios, whose demands for some fans to be removed were punctuated by spitting towards a section of the crowd upon victory.

Kyrgios spoke after that match of receiving "a lot of disrespect" from the crowds, while he also jousted with journalists in a news conference, before being angered by what he read afterwards.

Sinking Queen's Club runner-up Krajinovic in such a classy fashion was described by the unseeded Kyrgios as his response.

"I was pretty disappointed in my performance in the first round. Then obviously the media's disrespect and just everything, it was just kind of a reminder to put you all back in your place from the performance today," Kyrgios said. "He made finals at Queen's, top 30 in the world, seeded. It's a gentle reminder."

Kyrgios hit 50 winners and made only 10 unforced errors, saying in an on-court interview that he had displayed "great body language".

"I just wanted to remind everyone that I'm pretty good," he said, with a deliberately straight face.

"I'm just happy. I've been working hard and I've been preparing for this tournament. It's been circled on my calendar pretty much all year, and I'm so excited to be here again.

"I think it's my best chance to win a grand slam of all the four [majors], and I'll keep taking it match by match. I've got an incredibly tough draw still, and today I couldn't have played better and now I can just recover and get ready."

Awaiting Kyrgios in round three is Tsitsipas, a straight-sets winner on Thursday against another Australian, Jordan Thompson.

Kyrgios holds a 3-1 winning head-to-head advantage over Tsitsipas in their previous meetings, coming out on top when they met at Halle just a fortnight ago.

That recent match means Tsitsipas has it fresh in his mind what it might take to topple Kyrgios, and the Greek fourth seed told a news conference: "He claims to like grass and his game is good for the grass.

"I am thrilled to be facing him. I respect him a lot on the court and what he is trying to do. Even though he has been a little controversial in the past, I think he's playing good tennis.

"I'm going to concentrate on doing my own thing and pay attention to my own game from start to finish. Hopefully I can have a great competitive match against him."

Iva Swiatek says it is "pretty special" to have matched Martina Hingis' run of 37 victories in a row after coming through a tough test with Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove.

The world number one was taken to three sets by lucky loser Kerkhove in Thursday's second-round tie at Wimbledon but came out on top 6-4 4-6 6-3 on Court No. 1.

Swiatek overtook Monica Seles' career-best 36-match winning streak with her latest triumph and can surpass Hingis with victory over Alize Cornet in the next round.

That would see the Pole hold the record for the most successive victories on the WTA Tour since 1990, something she would take great pride in.

"I think another match to this number [37] is pretty special for me, but you know, when I'm out there, I'm not really thinking about that," she said in her on-court interview.

"I'm just trying to play the best tennis possible on grass, and the result is going to come. I don't have full influence in it, but I'm happy that [the winning streak] is 37.

"Now I'm going to do my best to get even more."

 

Swiatek still has some way to go to match the all-time winning run, with the record held by Martina Navratilova (74 in a row during 1984).

The two-time French Open winner was far from her best against world number 138 Kerkhove in a match lasting more than two hours that saw her broken three times.

She dropped a set for just the seventh time during her incredible run, which stretches back to defeat against Jelena Ostapenko in mid-February.

In doing so, Kerkhove became the lowest-ranked player to win a set against the number one female in the world since Carla Suarez Navarro – also ranked 138 – against Ash Barty at Wimbledon last year.

"She played a really great match, and it seemed that she really understood how to play today," Swiatek added. 

"But I'm really happy that I could sometimes just fight back and be the last one to play that ball in. I'm pretty happy that I'm going to have another chance to play here."

Swiatek has now won 46 matches this year in total. In the entirety of the 2021 season, only Anett Kontaveit and Ons Jabeur (both 48) won more matches.

Up next is former world number 11 Cornet, who is playing her 62nd consecutive grand slam tournament, which ties Ai Sugiyama for the Open Era record.

Iga Swiatek was made to work hard for her place in the third round at Wimbledon after being taken to three sets by Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove in Thursday's entertaining encounter.

The top seed had won her previous 36 matches, dropping just six sets in the process, but she was taken the distance by world number 138 Kerkhove on Court No. 1.

Swiatek ultimately proved too strong and prevailed 6-4 4-6 6-3 in a little over two hours to set up a meeting with Alize Cornet, although she was broken three times in total.

In just the third meeting between a lucky loser and top-seeded female in an Open Era grand slam, Kerkhove gave Swiatek plenty to think about throughout.

The Dutchwoman broke her opponent's serve in the third and fifth games of the opener, either side of failing to herself hold, but Swiatek then temporarily found some rhythm.

She broke Kerkhove in the eighth game and again in the 10th to take the set, although the world's top-ranked player once again allowed errors to creep in.

Despite double-faulting eight times across the first two sets, Kerkhove levelled up the match by earning the only break of the second set in the seventh game.

That paved the way for a decider, which saw both players hold in two lengthy opening games, but Swiatek visibly started to grow in confidence and broke Kerkhove in the fourth.

Kerkhove produced an impressive backhand winner en route to taking the third set to a ninth game, yet Swiatek was still serving for the win and made no mistake in doing so.

 

Data slam: Swiatek streak continues

Swiatek was expected to come through this second-round clash with ease, but that proved far from the case as Kerkhove became the lowest-ranked player to win a set against the number one female in the world since Carla Suarez Navarro – also ranked 138 – against Ash Barty at Wimbledon last year.

The reigning French Open winner dug deep to claim a 37th win in a row, however, and she remains on course to become the first female since Angelique Kerber in 2016 to win two grand slam titles in the same season.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Swiatek – 31/31
Kerkhove – 15/22

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Swiatek – 5/1
Kerkhove – 2/8

BREAK POINTS WON
Swiatek – 4/7
Kerkhove – 3/5

Katie Boulter upset last year's runner-up Karolina Pliskova to reach the third round of a grand slam for the first time at Wimbledon on Thursday.

Boulter has been blighted by injuries but broke new ground in her home major with a 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 defeat of the sixth seed on Centre Court.

The 25-year-old beat Pliskova on the grass at Eastbourne last week and got the better of the Czech once again, hitting 25 winners and breaking the former world number one four times.

Boulter, ranked 118th in the world, dedicated a huge victory to her grandmother, who passed away on Tuesday.

She will face Frenchwoman Harmony Tan, conqueror of Serena Williams, for a place in round four at the All England Club.

Boulter became only the sixth female British wildcard to progress beyond the second round of the grass-court major at SW19.

Wimbledon lost another seed to a positive COVID-19 test on Thursday as former semi-finalist Roberto Bautista Agut pulled out of the tournament.

The Spaniard, who lost in four sets to Novak Djokovic in their 2019 last-four tussle, announced his withdrawal as play got under way on day four at the All England Club.

Bautista Agut wrote on Twitter: "Today I notified @Wimbledon of my withdrawal. I have tested positive for Covid-19. Fortunately, the symptoms are not very serious, but I think it is the best decision. Thank you for your support. I hope to come back soon."

Now aged 34, Bautista Agut was the 17th seed at the championships and had been due to play Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan on Court Three on Thursday afternoon.

Galan receives a walkover into the third round as a result of Bautista Agut's announcement.

The loss of Bautista Agut follows the crushing blow of last year's runner-up Matteo Berrettini having to abandon his Wimbledon mission for the same reason.

Eighth seed Berrettini recently won at Queen's Club for the second straight year and was widely considered a credible challenger to Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, but the Italian pulled out ahead of his first-round match on Tuesday.

Croatian Marin Cilic, a former US Open champion and Wimbledon runner-up, also withdrew from the tournament before his opening match after a recent positive test.

Andy Murray's Wimbledon journey has ended in the second round despite a spirited fightback against John Isner in a four-set thriller.

The three-time grand slam champion - two of which have come at SW19 - will not add a fourth to his collection after he was downed by the big-serving American 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 on Centre Court on Wednesday.

Yet the 35-year-old did not go down quietly against the number 20 seed, forcing a tie-break in the third set to prevent a straight-sets win for his opponent before ultimately fading in the fourth.

For Murray, it marks the earliest exit of his Wimbledon career, having previously always reached the third round at senior level.

Despite never dropping more than two games behind Isner across the contest, the Scot was crucially never able to break serve. 

Isner sent down a stunning 36 aces, including three in succession in the final game of the match to put him on the brink of victory, before a neat backhand over the net sealed the deal.

Lesia Tsurenko says she has heard from only a solitary Russian and one Belarusian player who have opposed the invasion of Ukraine after she beat compatriot Anhelina Kalinina to reach the third round at Wimbledon.

The 33-year-old won an all-Ukrainian contest against Kalinina 3-6 6-4 6-3 to set up a clash with Jule Niemeier following the German's upset of second seed Anett Kontaveit on Wednesday.

The pair were cheered on by flag-waving supporters at SW19, while Tsurenko sported a blue-and-yellow.

Tsurenko expressed her disappointment over the lack of vocal opposition from Russian and Belarusian athletes, who are banned from playing at the All England Club, to the war in Ukraine after she moved into round three.

"I would be the first one to say that, no, you should not ban them," she stated.

"But I have heard only from one Belarusian player and from one Russian player, who talked to me personally and told me: ‘I’m against the war.’

"I did not hear anything from any other player. So for me, the silence means … I mean, it's not good when … I don’t know. I thought I had a lot of friends on tour, especially from Russians and Belarusians.

"It’s just a step. [But] it's a good step to show that that's what we all have to do. I am Ukrainian. There is no other opinion in my head."

Novak Djokovic says he will support his former coach Boris Becker and the German's family in any way he can during his time in prison.

Becker was jailed for two-and-half years at the end of April after being found guilty of concealing £2.5million of assets to avoid paying money he owed after his bankruptcy.

The six-time grand slam champion's girlfriend, Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro, and his son, Noah, were in Djokovic's box on Centre Court for his first and second-round matches at Wimbledon.

Djokovic had Becker in his corner for three years as his coach until the end of 2016.

The legendary Serbian has not been in direct contact with Becker, but vowed after outclassing Thanasi Kokkinakis at SW19 on Wednesday that he will always be there for the 54-year-old and his relatives.

He said during a media conference at the All England Club: "I haven't been communicating directly with him, but I've been communicating to him through them [Becker's family] and I was really glad to have hosted his girlfriend and his son Noah for my first round and now today second-round match.

"Noah and his younger brother, Elias, are going to visit Boris I think in the next few days for the first time since he went to prison and I've been just trying to give support to people around him, his closest people, his family members because I consider Boris as a family member. He's someone that I greatly appreciate, respect and care about.

"We've been through a lot together and during those three years of collaboration and our relationship dates back even before that. After we finished our professional relationship we always stayed close; him with my team, my agents and my family.

"It breaks my heart to see what is happening to him, so this is a little gesture of friendship to invite them. He knows and they now they can always count on me for whatever support or help I can provide."

Ugo Humbert was not entirely prepared for his second-round match with third seed Casper Ruud at Wimbledon but still upset the French Open finalist.

Humbert arrived for Wednesday's contest without his racquets, apologising at the ball toss.

The Frenchman was soon provided with his essential equipment to a round of applause from the crowd but still took some time to get going on Court 2, losing the opener.

Humbert weathered that setback, though, and replied in impressive fashion, emerging a 3-6 6-2 7-5 6-4 winner for his third consecutive victory against top-10 opponents on grass.

"I love to play on grass. I have played a lot of good matches," Humbert said.

"I think about the match last year against [Nick[ Kyrgios. It was a big battle. I won Halle, so I think I play very nice [on grass] because of my serve, and my backhand is very great."

He added: "It is a big victory. [Ruud] played very well the last few years, so I am very happy."

Venus Williams will make her Wimbledon return after the five-time singles champion was granted a wildcard entry for the mixed doubles with Jamie Murray.

The 42-year-old has not played on the WTA Tour since a first-round defeat at the Chicago Open last year due to a leg injury.

However, despite not entering either the women's singles or women's doubles in SW19, Williams was pictured arriving at the championships with a sports bag on Sunday.

And it was confirmed on Wednesday she would be teaming up with Murray, with the pair facing a first-round clash against Alicja Rosolska and Michael Venus on Friday.

Both Williams and Murray have enjoyed mixed doubles success previously at Wimbledon.

Murray is a two-time winner having partnered Jelena Jankovic in 2007 and Martina Hingis in 2017 – beating Michael Venus in the latter final – while Williams reached the final in 2006 alongside Bob Bryan. She has won the women's doubles with sister Serena Williams six times.

This is not the first All England Club partnership between the two hugely successful tennis families either, with Serena and Andy Murray reaching the third round at Wimbledon in 2019.

Last year, Venus bowed out at the second round in the singles following defeat to Ons Jabeur but vowed she would return to SW19 – a promise she has now fulfilled. 

She follows the return of her sister Serena, who suffered a surprise singles defeat in the opening round against Harmony Tan on day two of the tournament.

Harmony Tan's unexpected first-round singles win over Serena Williams at Wimbledon prompted her to quit the doubles tournament, leading to a social media rant from her partner, who suggested she was not cut out for professional tennis.

Tan had entered the doubles draw alongside Tamara Korpatsch, with their first-round match against Raluca Olaru and Nadiia Kichenok set for Wednesday.

But Tan perhaps had not expected to be playing late into Tuesday evening and then to have a second-round singles contest to prepare for against Sara Sorribes Tormo on Thursday.

The Frenchwoman came through an epic back-and-forth on Centre Court to beat seven-time champion Williams – in singles action for the first time in almost a year – 7-5 1-6 7-6 (10-7).

Tan gained little sympathy from Korpatsch, however, with the German out of the singles competition on Monday following a three-set defeat to Heather Watson.

"Unfortunately my doubles partner H. Tan retired from our doubles today," Korpatsch wrote on her Instagram page.

"She just texted me this morning. Let me wait here one hour before the match start.

"I'm very sad, disappointed and also very angry that I can't play my first doubles grand slam. And it's really not fair for me. I didn't deserve that.

"She asked me before the tournament if we wanna play doubles and I said yes, I didn't ask her, she asked me!

"If you're broken after a three-hour match the day before, you can't play professional. That's my opinion."

Korpatsch's frustration continued on her Instagram story, where she had initially revealed the news, suggesting she was capable of playing more than six hours one day and still taking to the court the next.

She later added: "Thanks for all your comments. But I would like to say: I don't hate my doubles partner for withdrawing. I just want to share my feelings and opinion about my situation.

"If I'm still competing in singles, I would still feel and do the same. I wanted to play my first doubles grand slam. That was my chance.

"Yesterday she [Tan] was so motivated to me, and I was happy about our doubles.

"But just today in the morning getting this message feels very painful. It's not a WTA tournament, which I can play almost every week. It's a grand slam."

Defending champion Novak Djokovic outclassed Thanasi Kokkinakis in a domineering straight-sets victory to march into the third round at Wimbledon.

The top seed moved majestically as he made a statement on Centre Court, winning 6-1 6-4 6-2 in just two hours on Wednesday.

Djokovic breezed into a 3-0 lead in an opening set he served out to love after breaking for a second time, returning majestically as he dominated the Australian.

The 20-time grand slam champion needed just the one early break in the second set as he served superbly and was ruthless at the net, while also bossing rallies from the back of the court.

World number three Djokovic was relentless as he broke twice in a one-sided third set before ending the match with a hold after saving the only break point he faced.

Six-time Wimbledon champion Djokovic will face fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in round three at the All England Club.

Data slam: Djokovic near flawless as he extends winning run to 23

That is 23 wins in a row at the grass-court grand slam for three-time defending champion Djokovic.

The tournament favourite dropped a set in his win over Kwon Soon-woo on Monday, but barely put a foot wrong two days later.

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 29/14
Kokkinakis – 31/23

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 1/3
Kokkinakis – 11/5

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 5/13
Kokkinakis – 0/1

Jule Niemeier claimed the biggest scalp of her career by knocking second seed Anett Kontaveit out of Wimbledon with an emphatic straight-sets win on Wednesday.

Playing her first match against a top-10 player, world number 97 Niemeier moved into the third round with a 6-4 6-0 victory on No.1 Court.

Kontaveit did not earn a solitary break point as she made another early grand slam exit after falling in the first round at the French Open.

The number-three ranked Estonian, who was knocked out of Wimbledon in the opening round last year, has been suffering from the after-effects of coronavirus over the past couple of months.

German outsider Niemeier was beaten in her first main-draw grand slam match at the French Open last month, but took just 58 minutes to set up a third-round meeting with Anhelina Kalinina or Lesia Tsurenko.

The 22-year-old became the lowest-ranked female player to win a main-draw match at the All England Club against a top-three opponent since Jana Cepelova's defeat of Garbine Muguruza in 2016.

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