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Djokovic, Swiatek glide into last 32 at Wimbledon

By AFP - Jul 06,2023 - Last updated at Jul 06,2023

LONDON — Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek were in cruise control at Wimbledon on Wednesday, but confetti-throwing climate protesters and rain delays caused more headaches at the All England Club.

Djokovic, bidding for a record equalling eighth Wimbledon men’s title and 24th Grand Slam crown, defeated Australia’s Jordan Thompson 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5.

It was the 36-year-old’s 350th Grand Slam singles win, third only to Roger Federer and Serena Williams on the all-time list.

Victory also preserved his 10-year undefeated record on Centre Court.

“We have a very romantic and special relationship, this court and I,” said Djokovic who could face old rival Stan Wawrinka in the third round.

While Djokovic and Swiatek moved effortlessly into the last 32, there were still four first round matches which had yet to start.

They were four of the 21 matches cancelled until Thursday due to rain.

The day before, only eight ties were completed as torrential rain swamped the All England Club.

On Wednesday, a new headache presented itself in the shape of Just Stop Oil climate protesters.

Two activists, both in their 60s, ran onto Court 18 to scatter orange confetti and jigsaw pieces during Grigor Dimitrov’s match against Sho Shimabukuro.

“Following an incident on Court 18, two individuals have been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass and criminal damage and these individuals have now been removed from the grounds,” said a Wimbledon spokesman.

Just hours later, the match between Katie Boulter and Daria Saville on the same court was held up when another protestor repeated the confetti-jigsaw gesture to jeers from frustrated fans.

Women’s top seed Swiatek beat Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-2, 6-0 to sweep into the third round.

The reigning US Open and French Open champion has never been beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon, but has dropped just six games so far in this year’s tournament.

World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev marked his return to Wimbledon after last year’s ban on Russian players with a first round win.

Former US Open champion Medvedev defeated French-born British wild card Arthur Fery 7-5, 6-4, 6-3.

In 2022, the All England Club banned all Russian and Belarusian players in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

“The reception today, I don’t feel it that often. I was really touched,” said the 27-year-old after his match on Court One.

Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas survived a thrilling five-set battle against Dominic Thiem to book a blockbuster second round clash against two-time champion Andy Murray.

Tsitsipas held his nerve in a final set tie-break to secure a 3-6, 7-6 (7/1), 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (10/8) victory after almost four hours in a match which had started on Tuesday.

“For a second I thought we were doing the repeat of Isner versus Mahut,” Tsitsipas said in reference to the longest match in history, played at Wimbledon in 2010.

Tsitsipas will have to quickly recover as his Centre Court duel with Murray is set for Thursday.

“I’m not expecting anyone supporting me, but it’s not my first rodeo,” he said.

Danish sixth seed Holger Rune reached the second round for the first time with a 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 6-2 win against British wildcard George Loffhagen.

US ninth seed Taylor Fritz saw off Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann in five sets in a match which had started on Monday.

Frances Tiafoe, the American 10th seed who made the last 16 in 2022, saw off China’s Wu Yibing in straight sets.

Wu needed a medical time out at the end of the first set after falling ill but still pushed his opponent with some impressive shot-making.

“Am I playing Superman right now?” asked a bemused Tiafoe.

Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk clinched the day’s big shock by downing Greek eighth seed Maria Sakkari 0-6, 7-5, 6-2 in a first round tie twice interrupted for the rain.

“I was like numb in a way. So I had a really good cry both times, that helped, because I was desperate,” said Kostyuk as she explained the turnaround.

Canada’s Milos Raonic, the 2016 runner-up to Murray but now ranked at 849, defeated Austria’s Dennis Novak in four sets for his first win at the tournament in four years.

Ninth-seeded Petra Kvitova, widely seen as a contender for a third women’s title, edged out Jasmine Paolini of Italy, 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1.

The veteran Czech arrived at the All England Club fresh from winning her sixth career grass-court title in Berlin.

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