LONDON: Twice Wimbledon champion Rafa Nadal emerged victorious from a memorable four-set duel with Australian wild man Nick Kyrgios that delivered everything it had promised in front of an enraptured Centre Court crowd yesterday.
The fiery Kyrgios threw everything he had at the third seed - including an extraordinary 143mph second-serve ace – and undoubtedly had him rattled before the Spaniard eventually prevailed 6-3 3-6 7-6(5) 7-6(3) in the second round clash.
It was the best match of Wimbledon’s opening week as, amongst the expected histrionics, both men hit the heights with some relentlessly powerful and accurate serving in particular.
Nadal started strongly, got pegged back as Kyrgios fuelled himself with fury in a second set full of incident, then came through a high-octane tiebreak to take the third.
The 43rd-ranked Kyrgios then gave a reminder that amid all the antics there is a player of huge quality, one of the few with the weapons to challenge the game’s dominant trio, with 33-year-old Nadal the one he seems most able to unsettle.
Nadal, however, is not one to take a backward step and again showed his mettle in the clutch moments to come through for a third round meeting with Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
With his usual level of ruthlessness and near effortless efficiency, Roger Federer dashed home hopes of an outlandish upset by easing into the third round with a straight sets victory over Britain’s Jay Clarke.
There were just enough of the usual flourishes and moments of brilliance to suggest the Swiss is firmly on track to challenge for a ninth Wimbledon title, but he faced limited real resistance in the 6-1 7-6(3) 6-2 win over the world number 169.
Federer had never lost a Grand Slam match to somebody as low as Clarke in the rankings and, despite the Briton putting up a brave fight in the second set, the huge gulf in class ultimately ensured the Swiss never had to get out of second gear.
Ninth-seeded Isner, who played in the epic semi-final 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.
Former world number one Andy Murray made a victorious return to Wimbledon, where he won two of his three Grand Slam singles titles, partnering Pierre-Hugues Herbert to a four-set win in their first round doubles match.
He and Herbert, who has won all four Slam doubles titles, gelled as the match went on and beat Romanian Marius Copil and Frenchman Ugo Humbert 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-0 o Court One.