Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal are safely through to the second week of the Championship after both advanced against their first seeded opponents on Day 5 in the round of 32 matches. The top seed and defending champion Murray, winner in 2013 and 2016, beat the 28th seeded Italian Fabio Fognini 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5, while the fourth seeded Nadal, champion in 2008 and 2010, won against the GenNext star Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(3).
The Dunblane Native Murray had 15 aces and converted on 7 out of 9 break point chances in the match, hitting 26 winners and took advantage of 46 unforced errors from Fognini who became the first opponent in three rounds to claim a set of the champion. Murray who is seeded to face Nadal in the last four which would also decide who holds the no. 1 ranking at the end of the tournament, next faces the talented but temperamental Frenchman Benoit Paire who was a 6-2, 7-6(3), 6-3 winner over the 2013 semifinalist Jerzy Janowicz of Poland. Paired who is ranked 46th in world and is unseeded, won in just one hour and forty two minutes on court no. 18.
The Mallorcan native Nadal got off to a 4-0 start but was broken in the fifth game by the 21 year old Khachanov who took his time to settle down, playing the biggest match of life and his first on center court. Nadal would race to two set lead but was made to fight for the third set. Khachanov wasted two set points in the third set, and Nadal who has won 10 consecutive matches without dropping a set claimed the tie-breaker courtesy of three straight unforced errors by the Russian at 2-2.
Khachanov had 35 unforced errors but also hit 33 winners. Up next for Nadal is the in form Gilles Muller of Luxembourg. The 16th seeded Muller who beat Nadal in the second round here in 2005 after the Spaniard had just won the first of his record ten French Open titles in Paris. Muller beat the Slovak born British citizen Aljaz Bedene 7-6(4),7-5,6-4. Muller is 10-1 on grass this season, having won the ATP 250 in Den Bosch, Netherlands and then losing a tight three set contest to the Croat Marin Cilic.
The seventh seeded Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion, continued his impressive run with a 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-4 win over the 26th seeded American Steve Johnson. Cilic served 17 aces and won 81% points (42/52) on first serve but was broken twice on court no. 1. He will next face the 18th seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, who upset the ninth seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan, 6-4, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3 to enter the fourth round of a grand slam for the ninth time in his career and will need a miracle to end his 0-8 record when he plays Cilic on Monday.
The South African Kevin Anderson, better known for blowing a two set lead against the eventual champion Novak Djokovic in 2015, ended the run of Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium with a 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-6(3) win in exactly two hours and now awaits the winner of the match between the 12th seeded Jo Wilfred Tsonga of France and the American Sam Querrey, seeded 24th.
That match on court no. 2 was suspended with Tsonga serving 5-6 in the decider. Just for the record the scoreline is Querrey leads 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(5), 1-6, 6-5, the players have been on court for two hours and fifty four minutes. Querrey who had caused one of the biggest upsets of Wimbledon last year beating Novak Djokovic at the same stage, has served 22 aces in the match so far. Tsonga, a semifinalist in 2011 and 2012 has 12 aces in the match so far.
Following is the list of matches in the bottom half of the men’s draw, round of 32 with my pick mentioned first :-
Novak Djokovic (2) v. Ernests Gulbis (-)
Gael Monfils (15) v. Adrian Mannarino (-)
Tomas Berdych (11) v. David Ferrer (-)
Dominic Thiem (8) v. Jared Donaldson (-)
Roger Federer (3) v. Mischa Zverev (27)
Grigor Dimitrov (13) v. Dudi Sela (-)
Alexander Zverev (10) v. Sebastian Ofner (-)
Milos Raonic (6) v. Albert Ramos-Vinolas (25)
In the women’s section of the draw, the former world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus once again battled back from a set down to beat the Briton Heather Watson 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the first match of the day on center court. Playing her first tournament after returning back from motherhood, Azarenka next plays the second seeded Simona Halep of Romania who edged out Shuai Peng of China 6-4, 7-6(7). Halep saved a set point in the second set tie-break at 5-6 against her 31 year old opponent.
Caroline Garcia of France, seeded 21st, easily beat the American Madison Brengle 6-4, 6-3. Brengle had ended the run of the two time former champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic. Next up for Garcia will be the local favourite Johanna Konta who beat Maria Sakkari of Greece, 6-4, 6-1. The French Open champion Julia Ostapenko of Latvia overcame Camila Giorgi of Italy, 7-5, 7-5 and now taken on Elina Svitolina of Ukraine who beat Carina Witthoeft of Germany 6-1, 7-5.
In a closely contested match, Croatian Ana Konjuh, seeded 27th, upset the eighth seeded Dominica Cibulkova of Slovakia 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-4 in two hours and thirty six minutes. She will next play the five time former champion Venus Williams, seeded 10th, after the American took out Japan’s Naomi Osaka 7-6(3), 6-4 in 85 minutes. Osaka had 28 winners, while Williams had 21, but the experience of seven time grand slam champion proved too much for Osaka on crucial points.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@]