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Nadal Advances at Wimbledon; Isner Wins Longest Match

Nadal, Murray Advance at Wimbledon
Spain's Rafael Nadal reacts after winning against the Netherlands' Robin Haase, on the fourth day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. Photographer: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal, the 2008 Wimbledon champion, beat Robin Haase in five sets today to reach the third round at the only grass-court Grand Slam, while John Isner defeated Nicolas Mahut in the longest match in tennis history.

Nadal, the top-ranked player on the ATP World Tour but seeded No. 2 at Wimbledon, won 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 against Haase of the Netherlands. The Spaniard was joined in the next round by Britain’s Andy Murray, who beat Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in front of Queen Elizabeth II on Centre Court as the monarch made her first visit to the All England Club since 1977.

“I played a good match, in the first set I just had three bad points at 6-5 and lost the set,” Nadal said in a televised interview. “I am very happy to win this match as I was close to losing.”

Serena Williams continued the defense of her women’s title with a 6-0, 6-1 victory against Russia’s Anna Chakvetadze.

The first-round match between Isner of the U.S. and Mahut of France, which started two days ago, was finally concluded at 4:48 p.m. local time today after 11 hours, 5 minutes on court.

The previous longest match had been a 6-hour, 33-minute first-round match at the 2004 French Open between Frenchmen Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement.

Russia’s Maria Sharapova, the 2004 winner now ranked No. 17 on the WTA Tour, beat Romania’s Ioana Raluca Olaru 6-1, 6-4. Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, the No. 3 seed, defeated Kai-Chen Chang of Taipei 6-4, 6-3.

Federer in Five

Nadal joined top-seed and defending champion Roger Federer in being taken to five sets in the early rounds at this year’s championship, before battling past the 151st-ranked Hasse.

He was broken in the 12th game of the match to lose the opening set, then appeared to be in control by breaking twice in the second set.

The third went with serve until the sixth game, Haase securing the only break with a forehand cross-court pass. Nadal took the next set in only 22 minutes to tie the match at 2-2, then forced a mistake from his Dutch opponent in Game 4 of the final set with a lob to the back of the court to take the decisive break.

Nadal, winner of his seventh Grand Slam title earlier this month at the French Open, missed Wimbledon last year with a knee injury.

Murray, a semifinalist last year, continued his bid to become the first British man to win the Wimbledon singles title since Fred Perry in 1936.

Queen’s View

The Queen moved to Centre Court to watch Murray and Nieminen after greeting players including Federer and Serena Williams.

The crowd rose and applauded as she made her way to the Royal Box, while the two players put their bags down, put one arm behind their backs and bowed as they entered the court.

Murray saved four break points in the opening game, but only needed one opportunity in the next game to take a 2-0 lead as Nieminen hit into the net.

The remainder of the set went with serve, the Briton sealing it with an ace, one of 18 in the match for this year’s Australian Open runner-up.

The 23-year-old controlled the rest of the match and wrapped up the victory in 1 hour, 42 minutes to take his career record against Nieminen to 3-0.

“Obviously it was a big occasion but you try and prepare the same for every match,” Murray, the No. 4 seed, told reporters. “It was a good match, he’s a tough player, very solid. He doesn’t give you many free points.”

Who’s Next

Murray’s next opponent will be Gilles Simon of France, who progressed after Illya Marchenko of Ukraine withdrew.

Isner, the No. 23 seed, hit 112 aces in his victory, with the match against Mahut finishing 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-3), 70-68. Mahut had 103 aces.

Isner fell to the ground on his back after his shot down the line completed the win. The match was halted last night at 59-59 in the final set.

“The guy’s an absolute warrior,” Isner said in a televised courtside interview. “It stinks someone had to lose.”

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France also won a five-set match, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 5-7, 10-8 in 3 hours, 55 minutes against Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov.

Soderling Wins

Sweden’s Robin Soderling, the No. 6 seed and runner-up at the French Open for two straight years, beat Marcel Granollers of Spain 7-5, 6-1, 6-4. Spain’s David Ferrer, France’s Julien Benneteau and Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci also won.

Sam Querrey of the U.S., who won a grass-court warmup event at Eastbourne, defeated Croatian qualifier Ivan Dodig 6-2, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (12-10) to advance to the third round for the first time.

Serena Williams, aiming for her fourth Wimbledon title and 13th Grand Slam, has dropped only five games in reaching the third round.

The 28-year-old American, winner of this year’s Australian Open, took only 49 minutes to win today. She next faces Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova.

The 23-year-old Sharapova avoided her third straight second-round exit at the All England Club as she targets her first Grand Slam title since the Australian Open in 2008.

No. 7 seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland beat Italy’s Alberta Brianti 6-2, 6-0, while China’s Na Li, Italy’s Flavia Pennetta and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus were other seeds to win. Jie Zheng, the No. 23 seed from China, was beaten by Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, and No. 18 Aravane Rezai of France was also defeated.

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