Three time champion Novak Djokovic, seeded second dispatched Adam Pavlasek of the Czech Republic in emphatic fashion on court no. 1 to move into the third round on Thursday. The 2011, 2014 and 2015 champion won in just one hour thirty three minutes, the scoreline was 6-2, 6-2, 6-1. Djokovic, who held all four major titles entering into last years Championships after completing a career slam and also a non-calendar slam, has now won six matches in a row including the warm up event in Eastbourne last week.
The Serb who has since dropped to no. 4 in the rankings, faced only one break point in the entire match and converted on 7 out of 18 break point chances against the 22 year old Czech, ranked a lowly 136 in the world. Also winning in straight sets were the Frenchman Gael Monfils, seeded 15th, beat local favourite Kyle Edmund 7-6(1), 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and twelve minutes. Grigor Dimitrov, seeded 13th, took out the enigmatic Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1.
There was disappointment for the Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, seeded 29th, the 2009 U.S. Open champion crashed out of the tournament after being beaten 4-6, 4-6, 6-7(3) by Ernests Gulbis of Latvia. The 28 year old Latvian who has slipped to 589 in the rankings from a once lofty no. 10, won in two hours and fifty four minutes. The Israeli Dudi Sela caused another upset by beating the 23rd seeded American John Isner in five sets 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3 on court no. 12. Isner served 45 aces, while Sela only had 5, but most importantly Sela converted on two out of five break point chances, while Isner converted on just two out of fourteen break point chances.
Two players who contested the final in the Inaugural event in Antalya, Turkey last weekend, were once again pitted against one another. Yuichi Sugita who won the title, finished on the losing side this time against the left handed Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. The 51st ranked Mannarino beat the 44th ranked Sugita, 6-1, 5-7, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-2. In another five setter, the 27th seeded Mischa Zverev squandered a two set lead to Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, but recovered in the decider to score a 6-1, 6-2, 2-6, 3-6, 6-4 win in three hours and five minutes.
Veteran Spaniard David Ferrer was on court for only 18 minutes as his opponent Steve Darcis of Belgium retired due to injury after losing the first three games of the match. The Austrian Dominic Thiem, seeded eighth, overcame a slow start and a tricky opponent Giles Simon of France to win 5-7,6-4,6-2,6-4 on court no. 1 in two hours and fifty two minutes.
Seven time champion Roger Federer recovered from a wretched start when he lost the first seven points of the match but finished strongly with a 7-6(0), 6-3, 6-2 win over Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic to set up a meeting with Mischa Zverev of Germany in the round of 32. Federer dropped serve in the second game after clawing back to deuce from 0-40 down, but broke rightaway and from 5-6 down in the opening set won the next 13 points including 7-0 in the tie-break and went on to win in just 90 minutes on center court. Alexander Zverev too won in straight sets against the American Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 and next faces Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.
There were three other American men in action, Jared Donaldson upset the 32nd seeded Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 6-4, 7-6(0), 6-7(0), 6-2, but the 17th seeded Jack Sock was upset by the Austrian Sebastian Ofner who almost blew a two set lead before coming through 6-3,6-4,3-6,2-6,6-2. Tomas Berdych, seeded 11th beat Ryan Harrison 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(8), 6-3.
The 25th seeded Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas took three hours and thirty one minutes to beat the promising Russian Alexander Rublev 7-5, 6-7(6), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Last years finalist Milos Raonic of Canada, seeded sixth looked in danger of going two sets down before overcoming the veteran Russian Mikhail Youzhny 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-4, 7-5.
Following is the list of matches in the top half of the men’s draw with my pick mentioned first:-
Andy Murray (1) v. Fabio Fognini (28)
Benoit Paire (-) v. Jerzy Janowicz (-)
Sam Querrey (24) v. Jo Wilfred Tsonga (12)
Kevin Anderson (-) v. Ruben Bemelmans (-)
Rafael Nadal (4) v. Karen Khachanov (30)
Gilles Muller (16) v. Aljaz Bedene (-)
Kei Nishikori (9) v. Roberto Bautista Agut (18)
Marin Cilic (7) v. Steve Johnson (26)
In the ladies section of the draw, third seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic has been upset by Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova 3-6, 7-5, 6-2. Playing in only her eighth match of the year, Rybarikova ended the hopes of Pliskova who could have seized top ranking at the end of the tournament. Poland’s Agnieska Radwanska, seeded ninth and a former finalist in 2012, survived a tight contest from the American Christina McHale 5-7, 7-6(7), 6-3 in two hours and 43 minutes.
There were straight sets wins for the Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, the Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland, Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan, the American Coco Vandeweghe, Petra Martic of Croatia and Anett Kontaveit of Estonia who upset the Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-2. France’s Kristina Mladenovic was upset by little known American Alison Riske, Polona Hercog of Slovenia beat another American Varvara Lepchenko, both in three sets.
The top seeded German Angelique Kerber won an entertaining match against Kirsten Flipkens of Denmark 7-5, 7-5. Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine beat another Swiss Viktorija Golubic in three sets. It was not a good day for Americans as Bethanie Mattek Sands retired due to injury after splitting the first two sets against the Romania’s Sorena Cirstea. Shelby Rogers of the U.S.A. did win with a three set upset of Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic.
In a late evening match, fifth seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark had few problems taking out Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 6-3,6-4. The former world number one, who has never won a grand slam title in her career is one of the many possible contender for the title in the absence of the mighty Serena Williams.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]