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Wimbledon Lookahead: Some players still stuck in 1st round

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LONDON — While Novak Djokovic – he of the 30-match Grand Slam winning streak – and Roger Federer can relax and enjoy their places in Wimbledon’s third round, there are more than two dozen players still stuck in the opening round.

That includes eight women who enter Thursday without having played a single point in the grass-court tournament thanks to plenty of rain, among them No. 11 Timea Bacsinszky and No. 31 Kristina Mladenovic.

While every man has at least started his first-round match, 12 head into Day 4 needing to complete those contests.

The top American man, 18th-seeded John Isner, has finished only one full set against Marcos Baghdatis, taking it in a tiebreaker. They are scheduled to resume Thursday – weather permitting, of course – with Baghdatis ahead 3-1 in the second.

Mikhail Youzhny and Horacio Zeballos are also in the second set of their first-round match.

And the list goes on and on.

In all, there are 28 players who are hoping to get out of the first round Thursday.

All of the wet weather wreaked so much havoc with the schedule that the first round of men’s doubles matches were reduced from best-of-five sets to best-of-three.

And the worst news of all? The long-range forecast shows there is a chance of rain every day through next Tuesday.

Here is what else to look for at Wimbledon on Thursday:

MURRAY’S TURN: No. 1 Djokovic and No. 3 Federer got to enjoy the protection of the Centre Court roof Wednesday and completed their matches while there was under two hours of play elsewhere on the grounds. No. 2 Andy Murray gets the same treatment Thursday. He’ll be playing his second-round match against 76th-ranked Yen-hsun Lu of Taiwan. Murray has lost only one match at any Grand Slam tournament to a player ranked that low, and it was more than a decade ago, against No. 91 Arnaud Clement at the 2005 U.S. Open.

WILLIAMS SISTERS: Serena and Venus Williams are scheduled to play doubles Thursday, part of their reunion tour this season before the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. In singles, though, six-time Wimbledon champion Serena gets the day off, while five-time champ Venus, who is seeded No. 8, takes on 115th-ranked Maria Sakkari in a second-round match. Sakkari will be trying to become the first Greek woman to reach the third round at a major since Eleni Daniilidou at Wimbledon in 2005.

BOUCHARD VS. KONTA: Two women who closed out rain-interrupted first-round victories Wednesday are back in action when No. 16 Johanna Konta – the first British woman seeded at the All England Club since Jo Durie in 1984 – faces 2014 Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard.

 

Nadal gets his revenge over Tsitsipas to reach Rome final

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ROME (AP) After losing in the semifinals of three straight clay-court tournaments, Rafael Nadal looked more like his old, dominant self when he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 Saturday to reach the Italian Open final.

It was a measure of revenge for Nadal after losing to Tsitsipas in three sets at this stage in Madrid last week. The victory should also restore Nadal’s confidence as he seeks a record-extending 12th title at the French Open starting next weekend.

“I’m playing better every match, every weekend,” Nadal said.

Aiming for a ninth trophy in Rome, Nadal’s opponent in Sunday’s final will be either Novak Djokovic or Diego Schwartzman, who were playing later.

Nadal is in the middle of his longest title drought to begin a season since he came onto the scene in 2004. His last trophy came in Toronto last August.

The crowd attempted to encourage Tsitsipas with chants of “Tsi-Tsi-Tsi; Pas-Pas-Pas” but the 20-year-old Greek player couldn’t keep up with Nadal on the long rallies – even though he didn’t play a day earlier after Roger Federer withdrew from the quarterfinals.

Conditions were much slower than on the high-altitude court in Madrid, which favored Nadal and made it tougher for Tsitsipas to execute his attacking game.

Midway through the first set, Nadal produced an awesome forehand winner up the line on the run, drawing a loud roar from the packed Campo Centrale crowd.

Nadal broke Tsitsipas’ serve early in both sets.

In the women’s tournament, Johanna Konta rallied past sixth-seeded Kiki Bertens 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 in nearly three hours to reach the biggest clay-court final of her career.

Konta’s only previous final on clay came recently in Rabat, Morocco, where she lost the title match to Maria Sakkari.

Konta could get a rematch with Sakkari if the Greek qualifier beats fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova in the other semifinal.

Midway through the first set, Konta surprised Bertens with a drop shot winner during a baseline rally, causing Bertens to fall on her stomach to the clay as she rapidly changed directions. Then in the next game, Konta ran down a drop shot and produced an angled winner.

Bertens was coming off the Madrid Open title.

“She played really smart with the drop shots,” Bertens said. “I was all the time getting myself together and trying to push for more energy. But it was not there.”

The 42nd-ranked Konta served for the first set at 5-4 but was broken at love. But Bertens double faulted to let Konta serve for the second set and Konta got an early break in the third.

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Andrew Dampf on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AndrewDampf

John Isner out of French Open with injury

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PARIS — John Isner has pulled out of the French Open because of an injured left foot, ending his streak of 24 consecutive appearances at Grand Slam tournaments.

The 34-year-old Isner announced his withdrawal Friday on Twitter.

He is ranked No. 11, the top American man, but has not competed since hurting his foot during the Miami Open final March 31.

Isner was a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, his best Grand Slam performance. He hasn’t missed a major since the 2013 Australian Open.

He’s reached the fourth round at Roland Garros three times, including in 2018, and is one of only two men to push 11-time champion Rafael Nadal to a fifth set there.

Isner is best known for winning the longest match in tennis history, 70-68 in the fifth set against Nicolas Mahut in Wimbledon’s first round in 2010. The match lasted more than 11 hours over three days.