Ons Jabeur and Novak Djokovic continue Wimbledon 2022 title bids

Tunisian world No 2 and Serbian defending champion both in third round action on Friday

Ons Jabeur has been in fine form as far at Wimbledon, reaching the third round for the loss of just eight games. AP
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Ons Jabeur will aim to continue her love affair with grasscourts on Friday when the Tunisian star competes in the third round of Wimbledon.

Jabeur, 27, has established herself as one of the favourites for the Wimbledon title following a season that has seen her surge to a career-high No 2 in the world rankings thanks to titles at the Madrid Masters and last month in Birmingham. Her form so far at the All England Club - where Jabeur has dropped just eight games from her first two matches - has only solidified those expectations.

"I love grass. I love playing here. I don't look at the draw much, but I know who's on my side obviously," said Jabeur, who next faces former junior world No 1 Diane Parry.

"I am slow and sometimes I start things slow. My game is not the same game as other players, so that's why it was more difficult for me to adapt."

There are no ranking points available at Wimbledon, a decision made by the WTA and ATP Tours in response to the tournament banning Russian and Belarusian players amid the invasion of Ukraine, and while Jabeur, who reached last year's quarter-finals, stands to lose those points, she is more focused on winning her first major.

"I don't like to focus on the negative things," she said. "If I win this, I'll be the only player to win a Grand Slam without points!"

Elsewhere in the women's singles draw, three of the top 10 seeds – Anett Kontaveit, Danielle Collins and US Open champion Emma Raducanu – failed to make the last 32 from their half of the draw, but two Grand Slam champions have survived.

Angelique Kerber, the 2018 Wimbledon champion and a semi-finalist last year, takes on Elise Mertens, while 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko meets Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania.

Greek fifth seed Maria Sakkari, who is attempting to reach the last 16 for the first time, tackles Germany's Tatjana Maria, one of three mothers who started out in the tournament.

Djokovic faces Kecmanovic

In the men's tournament, world No 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic aims to take a step closer to a fourth straight Wimbledon title when he faces fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic for a place in the last 16.

Kecmanovic, 22, has lost both his previous two meetings against the man he describes as his "idol", but with 2002 Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian in his coaching team, he is enjoying a breakout season.

Kecmanovic enjoyed career-best runs to the last 16 at the Australian Open and third round at Roland Garros. He has also broken into the top 30 for the first time.

Djokovic, bidding to join Pete Sampras as a seven-time Wimbledon champion, is in the third round at the All England Club for the 16th time.

Second-round opponent Thanasi Kokkinakis took just seven games off the 35-year-old. "I got chopped," was the Australian's frank summary.

John Isner may be 37 but his power on a grasscourt remains undiminished. The tall American has unleashed 90 aces in two rounds so far, including 36 in his defeat of two-time champion Andy Murray in the second round.

John Isner is closing in on the all-time aces record. EPA

Isner, a semi-finalist in 2018, has 13,724 career aces to sit just four behind the all-time record held by Ivo Karlovic. He faces Italian 10th seed Jannik Sinner for a place in the fourth round.

"It's not going to put me in the Hall of Fame or anything like that, because that's not me," said Isner. "But I will be the all-time leader. I'll keep playing, keep adding to my total. I don't know if it will get broken. I could be up there for a long time."

At the other end of the age scale, Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz targets the last 16 for the first time when he faces Germany's Oscar Otte.

Alcaraz needed five sets to see off Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round before sweeping past Tallan Griekspoor to make the last 32.

"I need more hours on court, on grass, to feel more comfortable," said the 19-year-old.

Otte should be the fresher of the two. He has dropped just five games in two rounds, helped by second-round opponent Christian Harrison retiring after just 15 minutes.

In the bottom section of Djokovic's draw, only two seeds have survived. British ninth seed Cameron Norrie faces Steve Johnson of the United States while US 30th seed Tommy Paul plays Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic.

Updated: July 01, 2022, 6:57 AM
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