Federer cruises, fireworks anticipated for Kyrgios v Nadal

Roger Federer (AFP)
Roger Federer (AFP)

London - Eight-time champion Roger Federer eased into the third round of Wimbledon, beating British wild card Jay Clarke 6-1, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 to equal American legend Jimmy Connors's record of 17 appearances in the last 32.

The 37-year-old Swiss great's rival Rafael Nadal is unikely to have such an easy ride later on Thursday as he faces the fiery but talented Australian Nick Kyrgios.

"I struggled to take care of business a bit from the baseline," said 37-year-old Federer who has now reached the third round at the Slams for the 70th time.

"Thankfully I played a pretty good breaker, I had some help from him as he gave me a couple of unforced errors."

Federer and Nadal's half of the draw lost two of the potentially more awkward customers in big serving duo John Isner and Marin Cilic.

Ninth-seeded Isner, who played in the epic semi-final last year with Kevin Anderson which lasted over six hours, fell in five sets to unseeded Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in just over three hours of play.

Cilic, the 13th seed and finalist in 2017, lost in straight sets to Portugal's Joao Sousa, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.     

There were no such upsets in the women's singles.

Ashleigh Barty's bid to become the first woman since Serena Williams in 2015 to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year stayed on track with a 6-1, 6-3 second round victory over Belgium's Alison van Uytvanck.

The 23-year-old Australian world number one will play British wild card Harriet Dart for a place in the last 16.

Barty said she would not be concerned by taking on a home hope in front of a partisan crowd.

"I wouldn't be playing a British crowd; I'm playing against Harriet," said Barty.

"Yes, she'll get more support being in Britain, as I would if we were in Australia. It's no different."

Barty, only the second Australian woman after Evonne Goolagong Cawley over 40 years ago to be number one in the world, said the most pleasure she has had in her new status is when she speaks to her niece back in Australia.

"Over and over she tells me you can go to infinity and beyond," sad Barty.

"She's an incredible little girl who gives me so much inspiration.

"It's been a very nice journey for myself, my team, my family, everyone. To be where we are now is really special."

Barty, who if she achieves the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double will be only the eighth woman to do so, said she would not be watching the blockbuster men's singles match between  Nadal and her compatriot Kyrgios later on Thursday.

"I think I'll be watching the cricket this afternoon," she said, referring to the second Ashes match between England's women and Australia.

Dart, for her part, could not contain her excitement at playing the world number one.

"Super exciting," she said. "A great opportunity for me.

"I have nothing to lose. I actually met her a few weeks ago at an LTA schools visit.

"Lovely girl, great champion."

However, Dart, ranked 182 in the world, had to be reassured about the Australian's recent exploits.

"She won the French Open, and she won Birmingham, right?"   

Also easing through was 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens who took the first eight games against her Chinese opponent Wang Yafan before winning 6-0, 6-2.

Stephens, seeded nine, will play  British 19th seed and French Open semi-finalist Johanna Konta in the next round.  

Home fans appetites will be sated when former world number one Andy Murray plays in the men's doubles -- months after 'life-changing hip surgery' -- with French partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert against Marius Copil of Romania and Herbert's compatriot Ugo Humbert.

Murray's mixed doubles partner, seven-time champion Serena Williams will also be in action facing Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan.

Williams is chasing a record-equalling 24th major at the Wimbledon.

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