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Murray braces for Tsitsipas clash at Wimbledon as Wawrinka advances

2023-07-06 21:45
Andy Murray takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the standout match at Wimbledon on Thursday in a contest with a spicy history after Stan Wawrinka set up...
Murray braces for Tsitsipas clash at Wimbledon as Wawrinka advances

Andy Murray takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the standout match at Wimbledon on Thursday in a contest with a spicy history after Stan Wawrinka set up a tasty clash with Novak Djokovic.

Defending women's champion Elena Rybakina is also in second-round action as tournament chiefs scramble to catch up after rain played havoc with the schedule.

Fifth seed Tsitsipas defeated two-time Wimbledon champion Murray in a five-set first-round epic which stretched to almost five hours at the US Open in 2021.

Britain's Murray was furious that the Greek took a medical timeout after dropping the third set and then an eight-minute toilet break at the end of the fourth.

Former world number one Murray sarcastically tweeted: "Fact of the day. It takes Stefanos Tsitsipas twice as long to go the bathroom as it takes Jeff Bezos to fly into space. Interesting."

However, ahead of their clash on Centre Court, Tsitsipas said the two men had buried the hatchet.

"I think it has been settled already a long time ago. We had to play Laver Cup together in the same team. I've forgotten about it. He has forgotten about it," he said after seeing off Dominic Thiem in five sets at the All England Club on Wednesday.

- 'Someone I respect' -

"He's someone that I respect. He has done great things in tennis. I'm looking forward to this match."

Tsitsipas has never played on Centre Court, where Murray captured the 2013 and 2016 Wimbledon titles.

While he had to play his opening match with Thiem over two days due to the torrential rain that wiped out most of the programme on Tuesday, Murray had the advantage of seeing off Ryan Peniston under the Centre Court roof.

That gave the 36-year-old an extra day of rest on Wednesday, which could be a factor, even though he is 12 years older than his opponent.

There were a clutch of first-round matches on Thursday, including Alexander Zverev's clash against Dutch qualifier Gijs Brouwer.

The chaos means that while men's defending champion Djokovic played his second-round match on Wednesday, top seed Carlos Alcaraz must wait until Friday.

Djokovic, chasing a record-equalling eighth men's title, will face Switzerland's Wawrinka, who beat Argentine 29th seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Wawrinka, 38, has won three Grand Slams but he has suffered a series of injury problems in recent years and has slipped to 88th in the rankings.

The Swiss player has beaten Djokovic twice in Grand Slam finals -- at the French Open in 2015 and at the US Open the following year.

"I will enjoy it if I don't get killed," said Wawrinka. "Novak is an amazing champion. I am happy to get the chance to play him on grass before I finish my career."

Last year's surprise champion Rybakina lost the first set of her title defence against American Shelby Rogers earlier this week but dropped just three games in the next two sets.

The Kazakh player, who faces 74th-ranked veteran Alize Cornet in the last 64, admits playing at Wimbledon as the defending champion is a different challenge.

- 'New chapter' -

"Straight away you go to this big court," she said. "I think for me it's now a new chapter and this is something I need to get used to and try to maintain my level."

Elsewhere on Thursday, there were early wins for Ukrainian wildcard Elina Svitolina, who beat Belgian 28th seed Elise Mertens 6-1, 1-6, 6-1, and two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka.

American qualifier Sofia Kenin followed up her shock win against compatriot Coco Gauff by defeating China's Wang Xinyu in straight sets.

Polish 17th seed Hubert Hurkacz, who famously beat Roger Federer in the quarter-finals in 2021, saw off British wildcard Jan Choinski 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3).


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