Konta reaches third round at Wimbledon

Gritty Nishikori down Stakhovsky

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LON­DON:

Bri­tain’s big­gest hope for a women’s cham­pion at Wimbledon worked her way into the third round yes­ter­day. Jo­hanna Konta trailed early but man­aged to come back and hang on for a 7-6 (4), 4-6, 10-8 vic­tory over Donna Vekic on Cen­tre Court.

“It’s a nice feel­ing not to have to keep go­ing out there,” Konta said. “We were out there a long time and both of us bat­tled in­cred­i­bly hard. “Who­ever was go­ing to draw the short straw was go­ing to be hurting.” Konta, seeded sixth, is in the third round at the All Eng­land Club for the first time in six ap­pear­ances. She reached the fi­nal at a grass-court warm-up tour­na­ment in Birm­ing­ham last month, but lost to Vekic.

“I think I over­all trusted my game a bit more this time,” said Konta, who is try­ing to be­come the first Bri­tish woman to win the Wimbledon ti­tle since Vir­ginia Wade in 1977. “I’m def­i­nitely here with the in­ten­tion of want­ing to be a part of the event for the full two weeks.”

Stan Wawrinka, a three-time Grand Slam cham­pion who lost in the first round at Wimbledon, is dat­ing Vekic and was at Cen­tre Court watch­ing the match. When the Wimbledon gates opened Wed­nes­day morn­ing, the race was on to get the best spot on Mount Mur­ray.

The hill next to No. 1 Court at Wimbledon, for­merly known as Hen­man Hill and also re­ferred to as Mur­ray Mound, was a cov­eted spot for Day 3 at the All Eng­land Club be­cause Konta and Andy Mur­ray were sched­uled to play their sec­ond-round matches on Cen­tre Court.

Ear­lier, Kei Nishikori dug deep to keep his Wimbledon chal­lenge alive as the Ja­panese star ground out a 6-4, 6-7 (7/9), 6-1, 7-6 (8/6) win over Ukrainian qual­i­fier Sergiy Stakhovsky yes­ter­day. De­spite reach­ing at least the quar­ter­fi­nals of the other three Grand Slams, Nishikori has never been past the fourth round at Wimbledon.

The world num­ber nine was pushed hard by Stakhovsky, who fa­mously stunned Roger Fed­erer at Wimbledon three years. But Nishikori, 27, ig­nored the sear­ing heat on Court One even­tu­ally pre­vailed in three hours and 15 min­utes.

“I knew it was go­ing to be a tough match be­cause Sergiy’s best sur­face is grass,” said Nishikori, who is fi­nally fit af­ter a host of in­jury prob­lems. “The last set was very tough. It was hard to get a break. I played good enough. “I felt very good on the court. I had enough en­ergy for a fifth set as well. I’m very happy to be healthy again.”

Nishikori’s cause wasn’t helped by the plague of fly­ing ants that de­scended on Wimbledon through­out the match and kept smack­ing into his face. “There were so many, they were hit­ting my face all the time. It wasn’t easy but I kept my fo­cus,” he said.

Nishikori faces Span­ish 18th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round as he aims to make the last 16 for the third time. Al­though he has won all four of their pre­vi­ous en­coun­ters, Nishikori is tak­ing noth­ing for granted.

“I know I have to raise my level to beat Roberto. It will be a tough one. I’ll try to re­cover and get some rest,” Nishikori said. “I don’t think we played on grass. He’s a good player, very solid from the base­line. I will try to stay ag­gres­sive.” Fol­low­ing Konta’s vic­tory, Mur­ray was due to play Dustin Brown. Rafael Nadal, a two-time Wimbledon cham­pion, will be on Cen­tre Court af­ter Mur­ray against Don­ald Young, while five­time cham­pion Venus Wil­liams is sched­uled to face Qiang Wang on No. 1 Court. Other women’s win­ners on Wed­nes­day in­clude former No. 1 Vic­to­ria Azarenka and eighth-seeded Do­minika Cibulkova. For the men, ninth-seeded Kei Nishikori, 12th-seeded Jo-Wil­fried Tsonga, 16thseeded Gilles Muller and 24th-seeded Sam Quer­rey ad­vanced. — Agen­cies

LON­DON: Bri­tain’s Jo­hanna Konta returns against Croa­tia’s Donna Vekic dur­ing their women’s sin­gles sec­ond round match on the third day of the 2017 Wimbledon Cham­pi­onships at The All Eng­land Lawn Ten­nis Club in Wimbledon, south­west Lon­don, yes­ter­day. —AFP

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