All the three favourite contenders for the Wimbledon title are safely through to the semi-finals as the defending champion Novak Djokovic, eight time champion Roger Federer and two time champion Rafael Nadal won their third round matches. Last year’s beaten finalist Kevin Anderson of South Africa fell by the wayside but the 2016 finalist Milos Raonic of Canada breezed through with a straight sets win.
Four time champion Novak Djokovic dropped his first set of the week against the promising Hubert Hurkacz of Poland but recovered to win 7-5,6-7(1),6-1,6-4. The top seed, winner in 2011,2014-15 and 2018 emerges as the clear favourite to contest the final next Sunday as the man whom he defeated last year and he was drawn to play in the last four, fourth seeded Kevin Anderson was ousted by the Argentine Guido Pella in straight sets on center court on Friday. The 26th seeded Pella who had last year beaten the 2017 finalist Marin Cilic of Croatia after being down by two sets, easily went through with a 6-4,6-3,7-6(4) win.
Djokovic’s next opponent will be the Frenchman Ugo Humbert who ended the hopes of the 18 year old Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada with a surprisingly easy 6-4,7-5,6-3 win. The 21 year old Humbert who is ranked 66th in the world joins another Frenchman Benoit Paire, who came from a set down to beat the qualifier Jiri Vesley of the Czech Republic 5-6,7-6(5),6-3,7-6(2) to enter the last 16 for the first time at Wimbledon.
Rafael Nadal though easily dispatched Jo Wilfred Tsonga 6-2,6-3,6-2 on Center court on Saturday and now plays Joao Sousa of Portugal on Manic Monday. Sousa needed five sets to end the hopes of the last remaining Briton Daniel Evans as he won the final round of 32 match to be completed on Saturday with a 4-6,6-4,7-5,4-6,6-4 win. The 30 year old Sousa, ranked 69th in the world and a winner of 3 ATP tour level titles is the first player from Portugal to enter the second round at Wimbledon.
Roger Federer, the eight time champion in 2003-07,2009,2012 and 2017 won his record extending 350th match in a grand slam as he overcame an early challenge from another Frenchman Lucas Pouille before advancing with a 7-5,6-2,7-6(4) win in the last match of the day on center court on Saturday.
He will now face the Stuttgart champion Matteo Berrettini of Italy, seeded 17th after a 6-7(5),7-6(2),4-6,7-6(5),6-3 win over the 21st seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman. Japan’s Kei Nishikori is also through without dropping a set in all his three matches so far after a 6-4,6-3,6-2 win over the American Steve Johnson. His next opponent will be the 31year old Mikhail Kukushkhin of Kazakhstan the lone German Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3,7-6(5),4-6,7-5 in a match which was suspended as players had to vacate the court number 12 to enable medical assistance to be given to a 60 year old spectator who fell ill during the fourth set.
Two Americans have advanced to the last 16 after Sam Querrey, a former semi-finalist in 2017 and Tennys Sandgren both booked a place in the last sixteen against each other with straight sets wins. Querrey won 7-6(3),7-6(8),6-3 to end the hopes of the last remaining Australian John Millman. The 27 year old Sandgren who had won only two tour level matches before 2018 and 21 in 2018, upset the 12th seeded Italian Fabio Fognini 6-3,7-6(12), 6-3.
Two more Spaniards have joined Rafael Nadal as Fernando Verdasco took full advantage of a weary Thomas Fabbiano of Italy with a 6-4,7-6(1),6-4 win. Fabbiano had needed five sets to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas and Ivo Karlovic in the previous rounds. Roberto Bautista Agut continues his impressive form with a 6-3,7-6(3),6-1 upset of the Russian 10th seed Karen Khachanov.
The 2016 finalist Milos Raonic of Canada looks set to meet Novak Djokovic in the last four as he registered his third straight sets win of the week with a 7-6(1),6-2,6-1 demolition of the six foot eleven inch American giant Reilly Opelka who had ended the hopes of a career slam of the three time major winner Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in the second round on Wednesday. David Goffin, the 21st seed from Belgium, upset the eleventh seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev in five sets winning 4-6,6-2,3-6,6-3,7-5. The finalist in Halle next faces the Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.
The following is the line up for the round of Sixteen with my pick mentioned first :-
Novak Djokovic (1) v. Ugo Humbert (-)
David Goffin (21) v. Fernando Verdasco (-)
Milos Raonic (15) v. Guido Pella (26)
Roberto Bautista Agut (23) v. Benoit Paire (28)
Sam Querrey (-) v. Tennys Sandgren (-)
Rafael Nadal (3) v. Joao Sousa(-)
Kei Nishikori (8) v. Mikhail Kukushkhin (-)
Roger Federer (2) v. Matteo Berrettini
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]