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Monday 18 December 2017

Nadal out to emulate title rivals

Rafa aims to join Roger and Novak in round 3

RAFAEL NADAL will look to join chief title rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the third round of Wimbledon when he takes on Czech Lukas Rosol on Centre Court this evening.

Nadal will hope to avoid the slow start that saw him lose the first four games against Thomaz Bellucci in round one, and it would be a major surprise were he to be overly troubled by world number 100 Rosol.

Yesterday Federer raced through with a show fit for royalty while Djokovic saw off the challenge of young American Ryan Harrison in a late-night encounter on Centre Court.

The 20-year-old is seen as a potential star of the future but, although he produced some spectacular shots, lacked the consistency to really trouble Djokovic and the world number one came through 6-4 6-4 6-4.

The pair did not get on until late after a combination of rain and a lengthy women's match earlier in the day, and Djokovic wrapped up victory at 9.52pm.

"It was a great match but I was in trouble in the second set and it could have gone either way," said the Serb. "It is difficult to adjust under the roof, and Ryan was serving fantastically."

Harrison's big chance came in the sixth game of the second set when he had six break points, but he could not take any of them, while Djokovic was clinical.

Federer made light work of flamboyant Italian Fabio Fognini, notching a 6-1 6-3 6-2 victory.

The third seed, who is looking to equal Pete Sampras' tally of seven Wimbledon titles, has dropped only nine games in two matches and will next face French 29th seed Julien Benneteau, a four-set winner over America's Michael Russell.

Federer said: "I was serving well. You're not going to get many chances throughout a set maybe against me when I'm serving well like that and able to vary my serve."

Delayed

Seventh seed David Ferrer beat Germany's Dustin Brown 7-6 (7/5) 6-4 6-4 in their delayed first-round tie while three-time finalist Andy Roddick overcame a determined challenge from British wild card Jamie Baker to win 7-6 (7/1) 6-4 7-5.

"I thought he played really well," said the American, seeded 30th this year but in form after winning Eastbourne last week. "The first set and the third set definitely could have gone either way."

Andy Murray was set to face a tall order in his second-round match today, the second match scheduled for Centre Court.

Croat Ivo Karlovic, at 6ft 10in, is the tallest player ever to be ranked in the top 100. The 33-year-old beat Dudi Sela in straight sets in a rain-delayed first-round clash, polishing off victory with his 26th ace.

Murray is certainly one of the game's best returners and enjoys the challenge of taking on the big servers, but he knows Karlovic's game means there is a danger of the match being turned into a Centre Court lottery.

"It's a tough match," said the Scot. "It's very hard to get into a rhythm against someone like that. He's made it very difficult for a lot of players over the last five or six years because he serves so well and makes you feel pretty uncomfortable on the court."

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