LONDON: 2017 French Open champion Rafael Nadal fired 41 winners to beat Karen Khachanov 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(3) on Centre Court to move into the last 16 of Wimbledon Championship for the first time since 2014, here on Friday.
Nadal was at his best for the first two sets, winning it 6-1, 6-4 against the No. 30 seed in front of a capacity crowd. Khachanov however ame back strong in a closely fought third set, but Nadal eventually triumphed 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(3) in two hours and 15 minutes for a place in the fourth round.
"For a set and a half I was playing fantastic, then a little bit worse," said Nadal. "But in general terms, it went very well and I'm very happy. At the beginning of the third set, I had my chances. I should have got the break. It didn't happen. Then, I had two tough games on my serve. That's it. I think I played well in the important moments. In the tie-break, I think I played a little bit better than him.
Meanwhile, top seed Andy Murray got the better of Fabio Fognini in their third-round clash on Friday at Wimbledon. The defending champion rallied from 2-5 in the fourth set, saving five set points to prevail over the 28th seed Fognini 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 in two hours and 39 minutes.
“I didn't feel like I played my best tennis, but I won and I got through it. That's a really positive thing,” said Murray. “Now I've got two days to work on some things, rest up a little bit, and get used to the conditions that we're playing in now. I'm obviously pleased to be in the second week. Anything can happen from here.”
Grigor Dimitrov is also through to the fourth round of The Championships at Wimbledon after his opponent, Dudi Sela, was forced to retire with Dimitrov leading 6-1, 6-1 on Saturday.
VENUS, AZARENKA, KONTA MAKE IT TO FOURTH ROUND
37-year-old Venus Williams became the oldest woman after Martina Navratilova to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon with her 7-6 (3), 6-4 victory over 19-year-old Naomi Osaka on Friday.
"It's interesting, for sure," Williams said of the 18-year age gap between her and Osaka. "But I guess when you walk on the court, I don't think either of us is thinking about the age. You're thinking about, 'How do I win?'
The five-time champion will next face 27th-seeded Ana Konjuh. Konjuh ousted No. 8 seed Dominika Cibulkova 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4 to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time.
In other matches Friday, Victoria Azarenka advanced to the fourth round by beating Heather Watson 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Centre Court. The two-time Grand Slam champion will next face No. 2 seed Simona Halep in the fourth round on Monday. Halep beat Peng Shuai 6-4, 7-6 (7).
Sixth-seeded Johanna Konta got the better of Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-1 to become the first British woman to reach the Round of 16 since Laura Robson in 2013.
Also advancing to the fourth round are fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina, who beat Carina Witthoeft 6-1, 7-5; No. 13 seed Jelena Ostapenko, who ousted Italian Camila Giorgi 7-5, 7-5; and 21st-seeded Caroline Garcia, who won 21 of 27 net points in a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Madison Brengle.