Wimbledon Watch: Rafael Nadal breezes through, Novak Djokovic survives thigh scare, Marin Cillic crashes out

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Rafael Nadal celebrates winning the second round match against Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin (REUTERS/Tony O'Brien)
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Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his second round match against Argentina's Horacio Zeballos . (REUTERS/Toby Melville)
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Marin Cilic reacts against Argentina's Guido Pella during their men's singles second round match on the fourth day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships. (AFP/Glyn KIRK)
Updated 05 July 2018
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Wimbledon Watch: Rafael Nadal breezes through, Novak Djokovic survives thigh scare, Marin Cillic crashes out

  • Novak Djokovic made it through with a straight sets win over Horacio Zeballos of Argentina, despite a slight injury scare in the third set
  • Cilic's early exit opens up Federer’s path to the final even more

LONDON: World number one Rafael Nadal made it to the third round at Wimbledon on Thursday with a straight sets victory over Mikhail Kukushkin.
The Spanish second seed won 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 on Center Court against the world number 77.
Nadal, a two-time Wimbledon champion, faces Australia’s Alex De Minaur on Saturday for a place in the last 16.
Elsewhere, Novak Djokovic made it through with a straight sets win over Horacio Zeballos of Argentina, despite a slight injury scare in the third set.
The former world number one, seeded 12th at the All England Club as he makes his way back from an elbow injury, won 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 for his 60th win at the tournament.
The three-time Wimbledon champion, more used to playing on the main Center Court or Court One arenas, was in the strange position of playing on the 4,000-seater Court Two.
Djokovic had treatment on his left thigh in the third set but overcame the problem to see out the set.
He faces either British 21st seed Kyle Edmund or US qualifier Bradley Klahn in Saturday’s third round.
Meanwhile, in the biggest shock of the tournament so far, Guido Pella of Argentina came from two sets down to stun third-seeded Marin Cilic at Wimbledon, beating last year’s finalist 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6, 7-5 in the second round.
Cilic looked headed for a routine victory before the match was suspended by rain in the third set on Wednesday but the former US Open champion couldn’t find the same rhythm on Thursday.
“Yesterday he was playing so, so good, and hitting the ball so hard that I couldn’t do anything,” the 82nd-ranked Pella said. “So the rain helped me a lot.”
Cilic was runner-up to Roger Federer last year and showed great form by beating Novak Djokovic in the Queen’s Club final last month.
His early exit opens up Federer’s path to the final even more, with No. 8 Kevin Anderson now the highest-seeded player left in the Swiss star’s side of the draw after No. 6 Grigor Dimitrov lost in the first round.


A HAT-TRICK OF HOPES: What the UAE and Saudi Arabia should be looking for from their friendly

Updated 20 March 2019
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A HAT-TRICK OF HOPES: What the UAE and Saudi Arabia should be looking for from their friendly

  • Can the Whites and Green Falcons find the back of the net more often?
  • Both teams need to set the tone ahead of the important World Cup qualifiers.

LONDON: Ahead of Thursday’s friendly between the UAE and Saudi Arabia Arab News looks at the main priorities for both sides as they embark on their new eras after the Asian Cup and ahead of the all-important the World Cup qualifiers.

FIND THOSE SCORING BOOTS

For the past 18 months both sides have struggled for goals. Under Alberto Zaccheroni the UAE scored just 10 goals in the past nine matches — five of those coming against lowly Kyrgyzstan and India — and likewise the Green Falcons have also struggled to find the back of the net. Heading toward the World Cup qualifiers, now is the time to find those scoring boots.

PUT ON A SHOW

Both sides have technically gifted players, can keep the ball and at times trouble opposition defenses. But both have been too defensive, too safety-first and, at times, too dull. Football is supposed to be entertainment, and the friendlies ahead of the World Cup qualifiers might be no bad time to throw caution to the wind and see what the players can do in the final third.

SET THE TONE

As the modern cliche goes, a week is a long time in football. With all the sackings and player movements, it is not hard to see the kernel of truth in that overused saying. But, conversely, time can also move very fast in the “Beautiful Game.” It may be six months before the World Cup qualifiers begin, but it will be September before the coaches and players know it. Set the tone and tactics now and triumphs will be easier to come by then and, more importantly, further into the future.