Battling Venus survives Date test

Tennis Wimbledon: American hangs on to earn third-round spot

A day after her younger sister Serena broke down in tears after beating Aravane Rezai in three sets, 23rd seed Venus was made to sweat buckets under the roof for a 6-7, 6-3, 8-6 win that lasted just under three hours.

Date-Krumm, who on Monday became the second oldest player to win a singles match at the championships, stood toe to toe with the American in a spellbinding duel that ebbed and flowed in front of a packed stadium.

Action was in short supply elsewhere with rain delaying play on the other courts but Williams and Date-Krumm provided a whole day’s worth of it in a scrap that was an early contender for match of the tournament.

Date-Krumm made her Wimbledon debut in 1989 when the Williams sisters were still bashing balls about on park courts in Compton and a Centre Court roof was still a pipe dream.

You have to scroll back to 1996 for her best performance here when she lost to Steffi Graf in the semifinals before taking a 12-year break from tennis.  Monday’s win over Britain Katie O’Brien was actually her first Wimbledon singles victory for 14 years and she came desperately close to another as she pushed five-time champion Williams to the limit.

In the men’s section, Rafael Nadal had his fans drooling with another muscle-bulging display of brilliance to crush Ryan Sweeting 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 and stay firmly on course to defend his Wimbledon title.

With rain in the air and the roof closed, wolf whistles echoed around Centre Court when the Spaniard changed his shirt and gasps of awe met his most effortless winners in a one-sided second-round match.

The champion barely sent a forehand long or wide throughout the encounter, even when under pressure, and his rampant serves and pinpoint volleys were equally impressive. Nadal had started the French Open in nervous fashion last month before gradually improving and peaking in time to beat Roger Federer yet again in the final.

In contrast, he has found his groove straight away at Wimbledon and the prospect of him playing even better next week would frighten even the most avid supporter of Federer, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray.

American Sweeting, the world number 69, ‘was beaten fairly badly’ in his own words by Nadal at the Australian Open and Indian Wells this year.  His attempts to put up a better fight floundered so much that he was forced to try to rally the crowd with his hands when he finally won a game to make it 1-4 in the second set.

He hung on bravely but the gulf in class was vast, especially when Sweeting tried to target Nadal’s backhand but the world number one simply ran round the ball and fire off another unstoppable forehand in trademark fashion. The break in the first set came at 3-1 and Nadal sealed the set to love with a rasping wide ace in front of a less than full Centre Court, although Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall had braved the drizzle outside to make it.

A clipped net cord, one of a host of unforced errors from the American, gifted Nadal the early advantage in the second set which he claimed with three aces in the deciding game.

The third set was move even but the ladies chomping strawberries in the stands knew the end was nigh and an imperious Nadal clinched victory to a cascade of applause and screams of “We love you Rafa” from his adoring fans.

Meanwhile, home hope Andy Murray reached the third round with a routine 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 win over German Tobias Kamke.  Last year’s men's runner-up Tomas Berdych wasted no time when he finally got on court, the sixth seed cruising past Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 and 10th seeded American Mardy Fish also progressed with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.

Wimbledon results (prefix denotes seeding):
Men’s singles: Second round: 4-Andy Murray (Gbr) bt Tobias Kamke (Ger) 6-3, 6-3, 7-5; Lukasz Kubot (Pol) bt Ivo Karlovic (Cro) 7-6 (8-2), 6-3, 6-3; Gilles Muller (Lux) bt 31-Milos Raonic (Can) 2-3 (retd); Alex Bogomolov Jr (US) bt 25-Juan Ignacio Chela  (Arg) 6-0, 6-3, 6-4; Simone Bolelli (Ita) bt 14-Stanislas Wawrinka (Sui) 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 7-6 (7-5); 1-Rafael Nadal (Esp) bt Ryan Sweeting (US) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4; 10-Mardy Fish (US) bt Denis Istomin (Uzb) 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, 6-4; 17-Richard Gasquet (Fra) bt Igor Kunitsyn (Rus) 6-1, 6-4, 6-4; 6-Tomas Berdych (Cze) bt Julien Benneteau (Fra) 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.

First round: 11-Juergen Melzer (Aut) bt Alejandro Falla (Col) 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 6-2; 12-Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Fra) bt Go Soeda (Jap) 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2; Somdev Devvarman (Ind) bt Denis Gremelmayr (Ger) 6-4, 4-2 (retd); John Isner (US) bt Nicolas Mahut (Fra) 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 7-6 (8-6); 5-Robin Soderling (Swe) bt Philipp Petzschner (Ger) 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5); Lleyton Hewitt (Aus) bt Kei Nishikori (Jpn) 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (7-9), 6-3; 16-Nicolas Almagro (Esp) bt Jarkko Nieminen (Fin) 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4; 19-Michael Llodra (Fra) bt James Ward (Gbr) 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3; Ricardo Mello (Bra) bt Frank Dancevic (Can) 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2;

Women’s singles: Second round: Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (Esp) bt Monica Niculescu (Rmn) 6-3, 6-0; 23-Venus Williams (US) bt Kimiko Date-Krumm (Jap) 6-7 (8-6), 6-3, 8-6.
First round: Misaki Doi (Jpn) bt 30-Bethanie Mattek-Sands (US) 6-4, 5-7, 7-5; 21-Flavia Pennetta (Ita) bt Irina Begu (Rmn) 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-2; 27-Jarmila Gajdosova (Aus) bt Alona Bondarenko (Ukr) 7-5, 6-3; Evgeniya Rodina (Rus) bt Chanelle Scheepers (SA) 6-3, 7-5; 16-Julia Goerges (Ger) bt Anabel Medina Garrigues (Esp) 6-3, 6-0; Andrea Hlavackova (Cze) bt Anastasia Rodionova (Aus) 6-1, 6-2; 13-Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol) bt Olga Govortsova (Blr) 6-0, 3-0 (retd); 18-Ana Ivanovic (Ser) bt Melanie Oudin (US) 6-0, 6-1; Lourdes Dominguez Lino (Esp) bt Romina Oprandi (Ita) 6-0, 6-1; 31-Lucie Safarova (Cze) bt Lucie Hradecka (Cze) 2-6, 6-3, 6-3; Eleni Daniilidou (Gre) bt Coco Vandeweghe (US) 6-4, 6-4; 3-Li Na (Chn) bt Alla Kudryavtseva (Rus) 6-3, 6-3; Klara Zakopalova (Cze) bt Emily Webley-Smith (Gbr) 6-3, 5-7, 8-6; 5-Maria Sharapova (Rus) bt Anna Chakvetadze (Rus) 6-2, 6-1; 26-Maria Kirilenko (Rus) bt Alberta Brianti (Ita) 6-2, 6-1; 9-Marion Bartoli (Fra) bt Kristyna Pliskova (Cze) 6-0, 6-2; Anastasiya Yakimova (Bela) bt Sofia Arvidsson (Swe) 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.

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