Djokovic dominates in Kudla win to maintain Wimbledon title defence
LONDON – Defending Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic cruised into the third round with a dominant 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Denis Kudla of the United States in emphatic style on Wednesday.
It is the 11th consecutive year that Djokovic has entered round three putting him second behind the all-time record, which is held by Jimmy Connors with 14 straight appearances.
Djokovic is aiming for his fifth Wimbledon title and a 16th grand slam trophy at this year's event.
The world number one, who has recruited 2001 winner Goran Ivanisevic to his coaching team, sprinted to the first set lead in 27 minutes.
Kudla, ranked at 111, conceded three breaks in the second set before Djokovic ran away with the contest in the third frame.
The 32-year-old Serb rounded off the win with two more breaks to win in one hour and 32 minutes.
Djokovic will next face Poland's Hubert Hurkacz, who triumphed earlier against Argentina's Leonardo Mayer 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 7-6 (9-7), 6-3.
Djokovic's match on Centre Court was delayed because of a three-hour and 43-minute five-set marathon between British number one Kyle Edmund and Spain's Fernando Verdasco.
The 24-year-old Edmund won the first two sets but eventually fell to a 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-4 defeat.
Last year's finalist Kevin Anderson advanced with a 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1 6-4 result against Serbian Janko Tipsarevic.
Meanwhile, Canadian teen Felix Auger Aliassime reached the third round for the first time at a grand slam as the 18-year-old claimed a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over France's Corentin Moutet.
Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka, a former Wimbledon quarter-finalist, was beaten in a five-set thriller by Reilly Opelka of the US, who triumphed 7-5, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 8-6.
The 21-year-old will meet former finalist and 15th seed Milos Raonic of Canada, who prevailed 7-6 (7-1), 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) against Dutchman Robin Haase.
Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut is also through after his Belgian opponent Steve Darcis retired through injury at 6-3, 6-4, 4-2.
Russian 10th seed Karen Khachanov will be Bautista Agut's next opponent after he dismissed another Spaniard in Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.
In the women's draw, world number three Karolina Pliskova claimed a commanding 6-0, 6-4 victory over Puerto Rico's Monica Puig for a place in the third round at Wimbledon on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old Czech player dominated the exchanges as she ran through six straight games to claim the first set in 20 minutes en route to finishing the match in one hour on Centre Court.
"I felt the best here in Wimbledon today," said Pliskova.
"I feel like I improved from the first round. I was a little bit nervous. Hopefully it can be better again in the third one."
Pliskova next faces Hsieh Su-wei in the next round after the Taiwanese player dismissed Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.
A deep run at this year's event could see Pliskova overtake Ashleigh Barty as world number one if she reaches the semi-finals, providing Australia's Barty does not also go that far in the tournament.
Former world number one Simona Halep endured a tough second round test against compatriot Mihaela Buzarnescu before eventually winning 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 in one hour and 51 minutes.
Halep had a 2-0 lead in each of the three sets where the Romanian pair accumulated a total of 15 breaks of serve in 23 opportunities.
"I had tough moments during this match," said Halep. "I lost the second set when I was leading the set. Then I just had to fight till the end."
Halep's next match will be a clash of former world number ones after Victoria Azarenka of Belarus overcame Australian Ajla Tomljanovic 6-2, 6-0.
"It's going to be a big challenge for me," Halep added.
"I have my chance and for sure I will win it. I want to win badly every match I play."
Ukrainian eighth seed Elina Svitolina was a set and a break down against Margarita Gasparyan but won by default.
The Russian picked up an untimely injury and was forced to retire at 5-7, 6-5 with Svitolina ahead in set two.
Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki succeeded another Russian in Veronika Kudermetova with a 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 win to book a third round meeting with China's Zhang Shuai.