Top seed Serena Williams’ challenge for a sixth Wimbledon singles title fizzled out with a shock 1-6 6-3 6-4 defeat by France’s Alize Cornet on Saturday. The 32-year-old American was untroubled in the first set but her game disintegrated as 25th seed Cornet took control in front of a stunned crowd on Court One.
Persistent rain at the All England Club meant only two games were possible when play started and when the players returned four hours later it was Williams who looked determined to make up for lost time with some powerful tennis. The 24-year-old Cornet refused to fade away though and with Williams looking uncomfortable moving on the grass she took the second set with some accurate shot-making.
A desperate-looking Williams dropped serve at 2-2 in the decider and then again two games later and Cornet held her nerve to reach the last 16.
For the third match in a row Spaniard Nadal found himself a set in arrears against an inspired adversary, this time in the form of Kazakhstan’s 63rd-ranked Mikhail Kukushkin, before switching on the after-burners to romp home 6-7 (4) 6-1 6-1 6-1. With play suspended on every court apart from Centre because of persistent rain, Sharapova then won 11 games in a row after a sluggish start against American Alison Riske, roaring into the second week with a 6-3 6-0 victory. Nadal’s matches have followed a familiar pattern.
Once 14-times grand slam champion Nadal broke early in the second set Kukushkin’s belief drained away and there was only ever going to be one outcome. “When I played the first set I said that maybe the roof here in Wimbledon is not good for me,” said the sun-loving Nadal whose 64 career titles include only two indoors.
“I don’t like to be in closed places only with lights but I think I played a great match. It didn’t affect me a lot,” he told reporters. The rain eventually relented at around 1730 local time but it was too late to prevent the schedule being shredded with Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka’s clash with Denis Istomin and Feliciano Lopez’s duel with John Isner being canceled.
Federer breezes through
Seven-times champion Roger Federer needed just 81 minutes to breeze through to the fourth-round of Wimbledon with a 6-3 6-1 6-3 victory against Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo on Saturday. The 32-year-old has yet to drop a set at this year’s championships and was again in impressive form despite some careless unforced errors. Federer wasted little time imposing himself on 35th ranked Giraldo, breaking serve at the first attempt.
Results (Round 3):
Men’s Singles: Roger Federer beat Santiago Giraldo 6-3 6-1 6-3; Rafa Nadal beat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-7(4) 6-1 6-1 6-1. Women’s Singles: Simona Halep beat Belinda Bencic 6-4 6-1; Maria Sharapova beat Alison Riske 6-3 6-0; Alize Cornet beat Serena Williams 1-6 6-3 6-4 .