Tennis·ROUNDUP

Djokovic cruises as path to final clears further with Ruud's upset loss at Wimbledon

Yet another of the highest-ranked players on the men's tour is out of the tournament at Wimbledon. Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal are not among them.

7 of top 11-ranked men's players out of competition; Tan's doubles partner angered by withdrawal

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates after defeating Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia in their second-round match at Wimbledon on Wednesday. (Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Yet another of the highest-ranked players on the men's tour is out of the tournament at Wimbledon. Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal are not among them.

Casper Ruud, the runner-up to Nadal at this year's French Open, became the seventh of the top 11-ranked male players to be out of the grass-court Grand Slam for either losing early, injury, illness or being banned.

Ruud, who was seeded third but ranked sixth, lost to Ugo Humbert of France 3-6, 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 on Wednesday in the second round.

Djokovic, a six-time Wimbledon champion who is looking for his fourth straight title at the All England Club, beat Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the third round. Nadal advanced to the second round on Tuesday.

The third-ranked Djokovic, No. 4 Nadal, No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas and No. 7 Carlos Alcaraz are the only players in the top 11 remaining in the draw. Top-ranked Daniil Medvedev is out because of a ban on Russians over the war in Ukraine, No. 2 Alexander Zverev is injured, No. 8 Andrey Rublev of Russia is also banned, No. 9 Felix Auger-Aliassime and No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz lost, and No. 11 Matteo Berrettini withdrew after testing positive for COVID-19.

Djokovic hosted Boris Becker's girlfriend and the three-time Wimbledon champion's son in his box for the match. Becker, who previously coached the Serb, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in Britain for illicitly transferring large amounts of money and hiding assets after he was declared bankrupt.

"I've just been trying to give support to people around him, his closest people, his family members, because I consider Boris really a family member, someone that I greatly appreciate, respect, and care about," Djokovic said. "We've been through a lot together during those three years of collaboration. Our relationship dates back even before that. Of course, after we finished our professional relationship, we always stayed close, him with my team, with my agents, with my family.

"He knows and they know that they can always count on me for whatever support or help I can provide."

Trio of top women's players falter

In the women's tournament, three of the top 11 ranked players were eliminated on Wednesday.

Anett Kontaveit lost to Juke Niemeier of Germany 6-4, 6-0, while 2017 Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza was beaten by Greet Minnen 6-4, 6-0 and U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu lost to Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-3.

Kontaveit was seeded second at Wimbledon but is ranked third, while Muguruza was seeded ninth and ranked 10th, and Raducanu was seeded 10th and ranked 11th.

Kontaveit said she had COVID-19 in recent months and has struggled to get her energy back.

"I had it a couple, two months ago, I think, or something like that. Then I tried to come back very quickly. I started training. It was low intensity, but I was still training every day. I think that was where I went wrong," the 26-year-old Estonian said. "Just thinking back at it, I probably should have given myself more time to recover."

Among the winners were No. 6 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, who beat Tereza Martincova 7-6 (1), 7-5 in a match that started Tuesday, No. 8 Jessica Pegula of the United States, No. 12 Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and No. 15 Angelique Kerber of Germany.

Ruud was making his third appearance at the All England Club. His victory over Albert Ramos-Vinolas on Monday was his first at the grass-court Grand Slam.

He became the first Norwegian player to reach a Grand Slam final when he made the championship match at Roland Garros, but he lost to Nadal in straight sets. He had withdrawn from the Australian Open with an ankle injury.

Fifth-seeded Carlos Alcaraz advanced to the third round at Wimbledon with a 6-4, 7-6 (0), 6-3 victory over Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands.

The win keeps the 19-year-old Spaniard on course for a potential quarterfinal match against top-ranked Djokovic.

Alcaraz will next play the 32nd-seeded Oscar Otte of Germany.

No. 9 Cam Norrie of Britain, No. 22 Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, No. 23 Frances Tiafoe of the United States, No. 25 Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia all advanced to the third round.

2-time Wimbledon champ Murray ousted

The recurring cries of "Come on, Andy!" at Centre Court meandered somewhere along the continuum from pushing to pleading as two-time champion Andy Murray's shortest stay at Wimbledon came to a close.

Unable to overcome big John Isner's big serves, the way he always has in the past, the revered Murray lost in the second round to the 20th-seeded American 6-4, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (3), 6-4 on Wednesday night at the All England Club, capping a disappointing afternoon and evening in the grass-court Grand Slam tournament's main stadium for the locals.

Asked whether he plans to be back a year from now, the 35-year-old Murray replied: "It depends on how I am physically. If physically I feel good, we'll try to keep playing. But it's extremely difficult, with the problems I've had with my body the last few years, to make predictions."

Murray needed multiple operations on his hip and now has an artificial joint. He also recently dealt with an abdominal issue that hampered his preparations last week.

In addition to becoming Britain's first men's singles title winner in 77 years at Wimbledon when he claimed the trophy in 2013 — and adding another in 2016 — Murray always had managed to make it to at least the third round in his 13 prior appearances. He lost that early twice, in his 2005 debut and in 2021.

"It's no secret that I am most definitely not a better tennis player than Andy Murray. I might have been just a little bit better than him today. It was an incredible honor to play him on this court, in front of this crowd," said the 37-year-old Isner, who won the longest match in tennis history by a 70-68 score in the fifth set at Wimbledon in 2010 and reached the semifinals there in 2018. "At the age I'm at now, I need to relish these moments. This was one of the biggest wins of my career."

Murray can still hit crisp, clean groundstrokes, and he accumulated merely 13 unforced errors to 39 winners against the 6-foot-10 (2.08-metre) Isner. And Murray can still return about as well as anyone, often getting serves topping 130 mph (210 kph) back over the net. But he could not quite do that enough: Isner hit 36 aces — moving him four away from Ivo Karlovic's total of 13,728, a record since the ATP began tracking that stat in 1991 — and delivered another 60 unreturned serves across the match's nearly 3 1/2 hours.

Murray, who entered the day 8-0 against Isner, only managed to obtain two break points. Both came after about a dozen minutes of play, right after Isner broke to go up 2-1 in the opening set.

Isner erased the first with a drop volley winner, part of a tremendous display of deft touch up at the net, where he won the point on 43 of 61 trips forward.

"This is why I still play," Isner said. "This is why I work hard."

When the second break chance for Murray arrived moments later, Isner got out of the game this way: 128 mph (206 kph) ace, 126 mph (203 kph) ace, 134 mph (216 kph) service winner.

Murray made things interesting by taking the third-set tiebreaker, celebrating by hopping around and shouting and pumping his right fist while the crowd rose and roared.

But Isner quickly broke to go up 3-2 in the fourth and that, essentially, was that.

How did Isner hold off any chance of a comeback by Murray?

"I served," Isner said with a laugh. "That's really all it came down to. I guess I didn't give him many opportunities to spin his web and get me tangled up in it. If I got embroiled in too many rallies with him, it just wasn't going to go well for me. I had an incredible serving day and I needed every single bit of it to beat him."

Next for Isner is a third-round matchup against No. 10 seed Jannik Sinner.

Davidovich Fokina loses match on point penalty

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina found an unusual way to lose a Grand Slam match. So unusual, he didn't quite know the rule that did him in.

Spain's Davidovich Fokina was given a point penalty by chair umpire Carlos Ramos for ball abuse and, because it came on match point, that ended the second-round contest against the Czech Republic's Jiri Vesely at Wimbledon on Wednesday.

The final score was 6-3, 5-7, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (10-7) in Vesely's favor after nearly four hours of play at Court 17.

Davidovich Fokina had been cited for a different code violation earlier. When Ramos made the match-ending call, Davidovich Fokina questioned the ruling, saying his two citations were for different infractions.

But that doesn't matter: Two such violations during one match result in a point being awarded to the opponent. This one happened to come right after Davidovich Fokina missed a forehand to give Vesely a 9-7 edge in the first-to-10-points, win-by-two final-set tiebreaker.

So Davidovich Fokina, who eliminated No. 7 seed Hurkacz in another fifth-set tiebreaker in the first round Monday, is out of the men's singles draw at Wimbledon.

Vesely moves on to face 30th-seeded Tommy Paul of the United States in the third round.

Tan's doubles partner angered by withdrawal

A day after eliminating Serena Williams from Wimbledon in her debut at the grass-court Grand Slam, Harmony Tan surprised and angered her doubles partner by withdrawing from that tournament on Wednesday with a thigh injury.

Tan, a Frenchwoman ranked 115th who beat the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7) on Centre Court on Tuesday, was scheduled to team with Tamara Korpatsch for their opening doubles match on Wednesday.

"She just texted this morning. Let me wait here 1 hour before the match start," Korpatsch wrote in an Instagram post. "I'm very sad, disappointed and also very angry that I can't play my 1st Doubles Grand Slam.

"And it's really not fair for me ... I didn't deserve that."

Tan is scheduled to play No. 32 Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain in the second round of the singles tournament on Thursday. Sorribes Tormo advanced by defeating American qualifier Christina McHale 6-2, 6-1.

The 24-year-old Tan is ranked 611th in doubles and has never played in that event at Wimbledon. Korpatsch, a 27-year-old German who is ranked 298th in doubles, lost in the first round of the singles tournament but has never played a doubles match at any Grand Slam tournament.

Tan was two points from losing to Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon champion who hadn't played a singles match since injuring herself in the first round a year ago at the All England Club.

The match lasted 3 hours, 11 minutes.

"If you're broken after a 3 [hour] match the day before, you can't play professional [tennis]. That's my opinion," Korpatsch wrote.

Tan and Korpatsch were scheduled to play 15th-seeded Nadiia Kichenok and Raluca Olaru on Wednesday in the first round of the doubles tournament. They were replaced in the draw by Valentini Grammatikopoulou and Peangtarn Plipuech.

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