Wimbledon: Ashleigh Barty made to fight by Anna Blinkova for place in third round

Svitolina joins exodus of top seeds at SW19 on Thursday

World No1 Ashleigh Barty had to dig deep for her victory over Anna Blinkova at Wimbledon on Thursday that secured her entry into the third round of a depleted women’s draw.

Barty was far from convincing in her 6-4, 6-3 win over Russia's Blinkova as she progressed to a third-round clash with Czech Katerina Siniakova.

The Australian had to overcome an uncharacteristically erratic serve to secure victory. She committed nine double-faults, including three in the first game, and was broken three times, but also hit 33 winners to Blinkova's 12.

“Not my best serving day,” Barty said. “I was just out of rhythm a little bit. Some days you feel like you’re eight feet tall and you can’t miss the box. Other days, like today, you feel like you’re three-foot-nothing. It’s certainly nothing that will concern me over a longer period.

“A few things didn't feel quite right today. That's half the battle in sport, being able to find a way when it's not feeling all that great.

“I felt like when my back was against the wall today I was able to bring the good stuff. It just wasn't quite there all the time.”

Third seed Elina Svitolina became the latest big name to fall at SW19 after being beaten by Poland's Magda Linette in the second round.

“I think mentally today I was not really in a good place,” said Svitolina after losing 6-3, 6-4 to Linette, the world No 44 had never beaten a top-15 player in a completed match before. She had 28 winners to just eight for Svitolina.

The Ukrainian has fallen on hard times since the pandemic struck, making it past the fourth round in just one of the five Grand Slams played.

“When you play a Grand Slam, it is all of the time a lot, different kind of pressures,” she said. “Sometimes it's tough to handle, but it is part of the job, is the part of the Grand Slam.

“You have to be strong, try to be good to yourself and try to overcome the fears, the difficulties.”

Coco Gauff enjoyed a successful Centre Court homecoming as she easily beat Russia's Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-3 to make it through to the third round.

The American was back at the scene of where her life changed two years ago, when, as a 15-year-old, she became the story of the championships by making it from qualifying to the fourth round.

And she had fun on her return, easing past the former world No 13 in 70 minutes. Gauff said in her on-court interview: “It means a lot to be back here on Centre, this court makes me the most nervous than any court in the world.

“After I win the matches it is one of the best feelings, but I was super nervous coming in. There is no other court like Centre Court at Wimbledon.”

French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova extended her winning streak to 14 matches by beating Germany's Andrea Petkovic 7-5, 6-4. The Czech is aiming to become the first woman since Serena Williams in 2015 to win Roland Garros and Wimbledon back to back.

In the men’s section, fourth seed Alexander Zverev of Germany hit 13 aces, lost only 12 points on his serve and advanced to the next round by defeating the American Tennys Sandgren 7-5, 6-2, 6-3.

Zverev, US Open runner-up in 2020 and a semi-finalist at last month’s French Open, has never been past the last 16 at Wimbledon.

Britain saw three players in the third round for the first time in 22 years. Cameron Norrie joined Andy Murray and Dan Evans in the round of 32 by overpowering wild card Alex Bolt of Australia 6-3, 6-1, 6-2.

Italian No 7 seed Matteo Berrettini beat Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3, 6-4, 7-6, while French 13th seed Gael Monfils lost to Pedro Martinez of Spain 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6.

Updated: July 2nd 2021, 5:32 AM