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Wimbledon: Djokovic cruises, Rublev leads Russian charge into 4th Rd

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London, July 2 (IANS) Top seed Novak Djokovic was in cruise mode as he handed a battling American qualifier Denis Kudla a straight-sets defeat in the men’s singles third round of Wimbledon Championships on Friday.

Djokovic defeated the Ukraine-born American Kudla 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(7) in two hours 17 minutes to secure his place in the fourth round of the championships.

Djokovic, gunning for his sixth Wimbledon title, was too strong for the 114th ranked Kudla and though the American did put up a fight in the third set, the 34-year-old Serb was relentless and sealed victory in third set tiebreaker.

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On his way to victory, Djokovic, who won his fifth title here in 2019, sent down eight aces and 34 winners. He committed 28 unforced errors to 35 by Kudla.

Earlier on Friday, fifth seed Andrey Rublev defeated Fabio Fognini 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 in under three hours to lead a Russian charge into fourth round.

Rublev converted five of the 13 break-points, fired 13 aces and won 73 per cent of first service points.

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The 23-year-old, who is world No. 7, won the first set in 43 minutes. The Italian came back in the second set after having conceded early lead. He won three straight games after being 2-4 down to clinch the set.

However, the Russian took the third set and in the fourth, he simply cruised winning five straight games after being 0-1 down.

Earlier, Rublev’s fellow countryman Karen Khachanov defeated Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 46 minutes. Tiafoe’s straight-sets loss was a surprise considering he had beaten third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round in straight sets.

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The 25th seed Khachanov converted three of the six break-points and won 81 per cent of the first service points.

If world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev beats Marin Cilic in the third round match on Saturday, then it will be only the third time since 1968 — when Open era began — that three Russians would reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament.

Igor Andreev, Nikolay Davydenko and Mikhail Youzhny reached fourth round at the 2007 Australian Open while Medvedev, Rublev and Aslan Karatsev did that at this year’s Australian Open.

Among other early winners on Friday were 17th seed Cristian Garin, who defeated Pedro Martinez 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 and Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat Dominik Koepfer 7-5, 6-1, 7-6(4).

–IANS

bsk/kh

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