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Federer cruises, champion Kerber knocked out

By AFP - Jul 04,2019 - Last updated at Jul 04,2019

Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates after beating Britain’s Jay Clarke during their men’s singles second round match of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships in London on Thursday (AFP photo by Glyn Kirk)

LONDON — Eight-time champion Roger Federer eased into the third round of Wimbledon on Thursday, beating British wild card Jay Clarke 6-1, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 to equal American legend Jimmy Connors’s record of 17 appearances in the last 32.

The 37-year-old Swiss great’s rival Rafael Nadal won 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3) in an engrossing tussle with the fiery but talented Australian Nick Kyrgios.

On the women’s side, there will be a new name adorning the trophy as defending champion Angelique Kerber went out in three sets to lucky loser Lauren Davis 2-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Federer said his game had not been perfect but Clarke had helped his cause.

“I struggled to take care of business a bit from the baseline,” said 37-year-old Federer who has now reached the third round at the Slams for the 70th time.

“Thankfully I played a pretty good breaker, I had some help from him as he gave me a couple of unforced errors.”

Federer and Nadal’s half of the draw lost two of the potentially more awkward customers in big serving duo John Isner and Marin Cilic.

Ninth-seeded Isner, who played in the epic semifinal last year with Kevin Anderson which lasted over six hours, fell in five sets to unseeded Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in just over three hours of play.

Cilic, the 13th seed and finalist in 2017, lost in straight sets to Portugal’s Joao Sousa, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Kerber looked in control after the first set but once she went 3-2 down in the second Davis — ranked outside the top 250 earlier this year — gained in confidence.

“Its been a tough journey and a process of learning and growing as a player and person,” said Davis.

“The drop in ranking has made this win even more fulfilling.”

There was a scare for seven-time champion Serena Williams, who dropped the first set against 18-year-old Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan before prevailing 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.

“It brings the best out of me the pressure,” said 37-year-old Williams.

“I play best when I am down sometimes. I am a fighter I never give up.”

Ashleigh Barty’s bid to become the first woman since Williams in 2015 to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year stayed on track with a 6-1, 6-3 second round victory over Belgium’s Alison van Uytvanck.

The 23-year-old Australian World No. 1 will play British wild card Harriet Dart for a place in the last 16.

Barty said she would not be concerned by taking on a home hope in front of a partisan crowd.

“I wouldn’t be playing a British crowd; I’m playing against Harriet,” said Barty.

“Yes, she’ll get more support being in Britain, as I would if we were in Australia. It’s no different.”

Barty, only the second Australian woman after Evonne Goolagong Cawley over 40 years ago to be No. 1 in the world, said the most pleasure she has had in her new status is when she speaks to her niece back in Australia.

“Over and over she tells me you can go to infinity and beyond,” sad Barty.

“She’s an incredible little girl who gives me so much inspiration.

“It’s been a very nice journey for myself, my team, my family, everyone. To be where we are now is really special.”

Dart, for her part, could not contain her excitement at playing the World No. 1.

“Super exciting,” she said. “A great opportunity for me.

“I have nothing to lose. I actually met her a few weeks ago at an LTA schools visit.

“Lovely girl, great champion.”

Home fans appetites were sated at the end of the day when Williams’s mixed doubles partner and former World No. 1 Andy Murray began his men’s doubles — months after “life-changing hip surgery” — with French partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert against Marius Copil of Romania and Herbert’s compatriot Ugo Humbert.

“To share the court with a British icon will be amazing,” said Williams.

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