Azarenka dashes Briton’s Wimbledon dreams


Tennis - Wimbledon - London, Britain - July 7, 2017 Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka shakes hands with Great Britain’s Heather Watson after winning their third round match REUTERS/Toby Melville

Nishikori beaten by ‘Mr Consistent’ Bautista

New mother Victoria Azarenka reached the last 16 of Wimbledon on Friday with a nerve-jangling 3-6 6-1 6-4 win over home favourite Heather Watson.
Azarenka, the former world number one, who is returning to tennis after the birth of her son in December, was stung into action after Watson had ridden a patriotic wave to the first set.
Despite throwing in three double-faults to Watson’s one, she broke twice to win the second and set up a decider.
Watson kicked off the third set serving, and pushed her nose in front. The Briton was finding it tough to hold, though, while Azarenka breezed through her service games.
The Belarussian clinched a break in a 10-minute seventh game, but Watson hit straight back to level it 4-4 and set off a roar within the arena. But it was only a temporary reprieve, as Azarenka punched straight back before serving out.
“I really stepped up in the key moments,” she said.
Azarenka will next play either second-seeded Romanian Simona Halep or China’s Peng Shuai for a place in the quarters.
Spain’s ‘Mr Consistent’ Roberto Bautista Agut reached the fourth round of a grand slam for the seventh time in his last nine attempts with a shock victory over Japanese ninth seed Kei Nishikori on Friday.
The 29-year-old proved too solid for a listless Nishikori, winning 6-4 7-6(3) 3-6 6-3 on Court Three.
“I could not get into my rhythm,” Nishikori told a large gathering of Japanese reporters.
“It was really hard for me to be aggressive today. In the third set I began to move him around a bit but it didn’t last long enough unfortunately. I totally lost my rhythm out there.”
It has been a mediocre year for Nishikori who is struggling to build on the promise he showed when he reached the 2014 U.S. Open final, losing to Marin Cilic.
After reaching the final in two of his first three tournaments of 2017 he has not made one since and has been suffering with niggling injuries.
On Friday he paid the price for failing to take his break point chances in the first set, especially at 4-4 when Bautista Agut saved one with a crisp forehand winner.
The Spaniard broke in the next game to take the opening set.
It was a similar story in the second set with Nishikori unable to convert any of the five break point chances that came his way before succumbing in a tiebreak in which Bautista Agut reeled off the last four points.
Nishikori, who has never flourished on grass and is yet to go past the fourth round at Wimbledon, did briefly gain the upper hand as he took the third set.
When he broke at the start of the fourth with a running forehand pass, to the delight of his fans, it seemed the match could swing his way but it proved a false dawn.
Eighteenth seed Bautista Agut belted a forehand winner to break back for and delivered another hammer blow to move 5-3 ahead before sealing victory as Nishikori skewed a backhand out.
Bautista Agut will face stiffer opposition on Monday when he plays Croatia’s seventh seed Marin Cilic.—AFP

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