Kevin Anderson. Picture: AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINA
Kevin Anderson. Picture: AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINA

London — Former champions Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic battled into the Wimbledon third round on Thursday but third seed and 2017 runner-up Marin Cilic crashed out.

Earlier, SA’s Kevin Anderson wrapped up his rain-interrupted match against Andreas Seppi, winning 6-3 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4.

Next up for Anderson is Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber.

World No1 Nadal defeated Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 6-4 6-3 6-4.

Djokovic, the three-time champion, needed treatment on his left thigh on Court Two but still had too many weapons for Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos, winning 6-1 6-2 6-3.

Djokovic has now made the third round for 10 consecutive years and will face either British 21st seed Kyle Edmund or US qualifier Bradley Klahn.

Cilic blew a two-set lead in his 3-6 1-6 6-4 7-6 (7/3) 7-5 loss to Argentina’s Guido Pella, ranked at 82. When rain forced the tie to be postponed on Wednesday, Cilic was leading by two sets against an opponent who had never won a match at Wimbledon before 2018.

But the Croatian collapsed once the match resumed on Court One on Thursday, and Pella took full advantage to set up a third-round clash with Mackenzie McDonald.

Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion, had been expected to mount a strong challenge for the Wimbledon title after winning the grass-court warm-up at Queen’s Club two weeks ago.

But his defeat is good news for defending champion Roger Federer, who was on course to face Cilic in the semifinals.

"Yesterday he was playing so good, hitting the ball so hard that I couldn’t do anything," Pella said. "So the rain helped me a lot. Today I played differently, tried to be more aggressive, he star-ted to feel uncomfortable.

"I tried to hit the ball hard and fight for every ball and I think in the end that’s why I won."

Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 champion, was tested by world No77 Kukushkin, a player who is coached by his wife.

The Kazakhstani was made to pay for converting just two of 13 break points in the match.

"It was very tough because he played very well," said 11-time French Open champion Nadal.

"I knew it was going to be a tough match, so I went onto the court with the determination and intensity, thinking I can’t make any mistakes."

Three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka was unable to follow up his first-round defeat of Grigor Dimitrov when he lost 7-6 (9/7) 6-3 7-6 (8/6) to Italian qualifier Thomas Fabbiano.

The world No133 is in the third round for the first time after winning back-to-back matches on the main tour for only the second time in 2018.

John Isner, the US ninth seed, beat Belgian qualifier Ruben Bemelmans 6-1 6-4 6-7 (6/8) 6-7 (3/7) 7-5. Nick Kyrgios saw off Robin Haase of the Netherlands 6-3 6-4 7-5.

AFP

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