Brits lead the charge at Wimbledon

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    It was an impressive Day 3 for the locals at Wimbledon with Andy Murray, Johanna Konta and Heather Watson all advancing to the third round, while Rafael Nadal and Victoria Azarenka also progressed.

    Watson opened proceedings on Court 2 with an impressive straight-sets win over 18th seed Anastasija Sevastova.

    The Brit, who nearly upset Serena Williams in the third round two years ago, took the opening set without conceding a game in just 19 minutes, but was made to work hard for victory in the second set as Sevastova, a quarter-finalist at the US Open last year, worked her way back into the match.

    The Latvian broke for a 3-1 lead early but could not consolidate the advantage, and Watson would later break in the tenth game to secure a 6-0, 6-4 victory and a likely Centre Court showdown with former world number one Victoria Azarenka.

    Azarenka, on the comeback trail after giving birth to son, Leo, shortly before Christmas last year, defeated 15th seed Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-3 as she bids to become the first player since Kim Clijsters at the 2009 US Open to win her first major tournament back after returning from maternity leave.

    The Belarussian will fancy her chances of reaching the second week, given she is 4-0 against Watson in the head-to-head and 8-0 in sets won, with none of the eight sets lasting more than ten games.

    However, it will be their first meeting in nearly three years, and first at a major since the 2012 Australian Open, when Azarenka destroyed the Brit for the loss of just one game en route to her first Grand Slam title.

    Watson’s win only served as the entree to the drama that was to unfold on Centre Court.

    Great Britain’s top-ranked female player, Johanna Konta, took on young rising Croat Donna Vekic in what was to become, undoubtedly, the match of the tournament so far.

    Vekic, who won their most recent meeting in Nottingham last month to claim her second career title, saved two break points in the opening game and then put herself in the position to serve for the opening set at 5-3.

    However, the Sydney-born Brit would break right back and later had several chances to break in the eleventh game, before Vekic held her composure to take the opening set to a tiebreak.

    Konta would pounce on crucial errors from Vekic to take the opening set, by which point over an hour of match time had elapsed.

    But the recent Nottingham titlist would not give up without a fight, breaking easily to start the second set and then consolidating for a 2-0 lead. She would eventually take the second set 6-4 and force a decider.

    The final set was what could only be defined as drama at its very best, as the mentality of Konta would be well and truly tested, the 26-year-old having never previously reached the third round in five previous attempts.

    It would remain on serve for the most part, with the first break point not coming until the thirteenth game, which Konta would save. She would later save another break point at 8-all, then held to take it to 9-8.

    The Brit would then bring up two match points, and after Vekic saved the first with an ace, Konta would finally claim victory in three hours and ten minutes, progressing to the third round for the very first time.

    The emotion between the two players was clear to see at the end, as was the respect by the crowd who had just been treated to one of the matches of the tournament, in which their local hero prevailed – by just.

    Konta now goes on to face Maria Sakkari after the world number 101 knocked out Kristyna Pliskova, the twin sister of third-ranked Karolina, in three sets.

    She will also fancy her chances of becoming the first local woman since Jo Durie in 1984 to reach the final eight at the All England Club, with two-time champion Petra Kvitova, whom she was projected to meet in the fourth round, bowing out to 95th-ranked American Madison Brengle, also in three sets.

    The Czech, in her third tournament back from a violent hand injury suffered before Christmas last year, defied illness to go the distance but would see her dreams of a third Wimbledon title ended at the hands of a player who before this year had never won a singles match at the All England Club.

    The 27-year-old said after the match that she was “glad it is over”.

    American Madison Keys and Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro also bowed out, but Simona Halep, Dominika Cibulkova and Venus Williams all advanced.

    Venus Williams of the United States acknowledges the crowd

    Former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone bid farewell to the All England Club after she was beaten in straight sets by fourth seed Elina Svitolina, while recent titlist Jelena Ostapenko came from a set down to defeat qualifier Francoise Abanda and reach the third round.

    On the men’s side, following the drama of the Konta versus Vekic match, top seed and defending champion Andy Murray made a mockery of what was supposed to be a tough match-up against dread-locked German Dustin Brown, winning in straight sets to advance to the third round.

    Having defeated former champions Lleyton Hewitt and Rafael Nadal at the All England Club in the past, Brown posed a serious danger for the Scot, who has been battling injury in the past few weeks.

    But if anything, the 30-year-old appeared switched on from the very start, dropping just seven games and setting up a third round clash against Italy’s Fabio Fognini, who upset the Scot at the Rome Masters in May.

    Murray’s victory, along with those of Watson’s and Konta’s earlier in the day as well as that of Aljaz Bedene’s, made it a successful day for Great Britain who will have at least four representatives in the third round for the first time in two decades, with Kyle Edmund due to play Gael Monfils overnight.

    Reigning French Open champion Rafael Nadal also progressed to the third round after defeating American Donald Young in straight sets; he next faces rising Russian Karen Khachanov in the third round.

    Marin Cilic, Kei Nishikori and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also advanced.

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