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Mix of Usual Suspects (Djokovic) and New Blood (Korda) into Wimbledon Second Week

Sebastian Korda hits a backhand during his 3rd round match against Daniel Evans at the Wimbledon Championships, 02 July 2021. EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL

By Ricky Dimon

Eight spots on the prestigious “Manic Monday” were handed out on the men’s side on Friday. The result is a mix of familiar faces and newcomers.

As expected, Novak Djokovic punched his ticket to the last 16 with a third-round victory over Denis Kudla. Djokovic saved a set point at 6-7 in the third-set tiebreaker before prevailing 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(7) after two hours and 17 minutes. It was a bit of a test for the world No. 1 and two-time defending champion, who trailed basically the whole way in the third–including a quick 3-0 deficit.

“I have to give Denis credit for playing well from the beginning,” Djokovic said. “The third set was very close. Denis is a great guy on and off the court. We get along really well. He was a bit unlucky in the tiebreaker in the third.”

Novak Djokovic hits a forehand during his 3rd round match against Denis Kudla at Wimbledon, 02 July 2021. EPA-EFE/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

The American contingent was luckier with Sebastian Korda, who booked a spot in the last 16 in his first-ever Wimbledon appearance. Korda battled past Dan Evans 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 24 minutes,

Thus continues an incredible season for Korda, who finished runner-up in Delray Beach and captured his first career title on the clay courts of Parma. His reward for his Wimbledon success is a spot on the second Monday–which happens to be his 21st birthday.

“I’ve talked with my dad and Andre Agassi,” Korda said when asked about the advice he has received. “They both just told me to enjoy it. I mean, this is probably one of the best center courts in the world; the fans and everybody, they’re incredible. The court’s incredible. Just to get the opportunity to play there before my 21st birthday is pretty special…. Yeah, it was perfect today.”

It was anything but a perfect day for the home crowd. After Evans bowed out to Korda, Andy Murray’s run ended in swift fashion with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 loss to Denis Shapovalov.

Instead of the two-time champion being part of the second week, Shapovalov will be making his first such appearance. The 22-year-old Canadian had previously never advanced past the second round at the All-England Club.

Denis Shapovalov hits a backhand during his 3rd round match against Andy Murray at the Wimbledon Championships, 02 July 2021. EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL

Other winners on Saturday were Cristian Garin, Andrey Rublev, Marton Fucsovics, Karen Khachanov, and Roberto Bautista Agut.

Ricky contributes to
10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.