Wimbledon: Fernando Verdasco hits back to beat Kyle Edmund, Reilly Opelka powers past Stan Wawrinka

British No 1, hampered by injury, loses 4-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-4 to tumble out of the grass court grand slam

Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 3, 2019  Spain's Fernando Verdasco celebrates winning his second round match against Britain's Kyle Edmund  REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge
Powered by automated translation

Six years ago Spain's Fernando Verdasco led Andy Murray by two sets in the Wimbledon quarter-finals only to let the British favourite off the hook and allow him to continue his journey to what would be an historic title.

On Wednesday, the feisty left-hander, found himself two sets behind to Kyle Edmund, the man with the onerous task of trying to fill the void left by Murray's absence from the singles draw.

Where there were roars of joy from around the grounds after that see-saw battle in 2013, this time there were groans as Verdasco turned the tables to win 4-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-4.

The 24-year-old Edmund, seeded 30th, was playing the kind of dazzling tennis two-time champion Murray would have been proud of as he dominated with his clubbing forehand.

Victory looked all but assured when he moved a break up in the third set but the 35-year-old Verdasco, making his 17th appearance at the All England Club, is no quitter.

Using his own mighty forehand, the left-hander hammered his way back to win the third set on a tiebreak and with Edmund troubled by his knee, he dominated thereafter to win from a two-set deficit for the sixth time in his career.

The previous day had been a profitable one for the British contingent with the number of players through to the second round reaching seven, the most since 2006.

But the crowds wedged in watching Edmund on the big screen on "Henman Hill" were left disappointed as his challenge faded against the world number 37.

Verdasco now plays Italian Thomas Fabbiano who claimed a second successive five-set victory by beating 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic.

Elsewhere, three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka was knocked out, falling in five sets to Reilly Opelka.

Two-time quarter-finalist Wawrinka, 34, was beaten 7-5, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 8-6 by his American opponent, the tallest man in the sport – at 2.10 metres – and 13 years his junior.

Opelka fired 23 aces and 59 winners and will engage in a battle of the servers when he faces Milos Raonic in the third round after the Canadian beat Robin Hasse 7-6, 7-5, 7-6.

“I started holding more easily, I’d had to save so many break points before that,” Opelka said of the turnaround. “I made some adjustments and was then able to spend more energy trying to break.”

Opelka said that he had “always been a pretty good mover - underrated maybe. Some guys don’t expect it when they play me for the first time.”

And he is now expecting a tough clash against Raonic. “He’s as good as it gets when it comes to grass,” said Opelka. “Outside the big three he’s probably got the best chance of winning Wimbledon.”

Wawrinka had few complaints. “Against those big servers you know you’re not going to have a lot of chances and you get under pressure a little bit more,” he said. At the end, he went for it. He went bigger than me, more aggressive, and he deserved to win”.

Queen’s champion Feliciano Lopez saw his Wimbledon hopes end in the second round after losing to Russian 10th seed Karen Khachanov.

Lopez secured both the singles and doubles title in the Wimbledon warm-up event in London, but came up short against the Paris Masters champion 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.

“I played well in the last couple of years and have had some good results,” Khachanov told the BBC. “I’m feeling pretty comfortable, nothing to complain about and I’m in the third round and feeling pretty good.

“I’m enjoying the other matches and am relaxed. I adapt to my next rival and try to get ready for it.”