Wimbledon Day 3: Tsitsipas survives Thiem in thriller

 - Reem Abulleil

Greek No.5 seed wins in a deciding super-tiebreak to set up Murray second round

Stefanos Tsitsipas, 1e tour, Wimbledon 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Another day affected by showers saw some serious reshuffling in the schedule at Wimbledon on Wednesday but that didn't stop the players from giving the crowds exactly what they paid for: five-set thrillers, history-making feats, and some sublime tennis to go with it.

With stars like David Beckham, Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, Juliana Margulies, Lindsey Vonn and many more all in attendance - Roger Federer and Li Na were also onsite with Rolex - it was quite the eventful day at the All England Club.

Match of the day

Stefanos Tsitsipas defeats Dominic Thiem 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-6(10/8)

In a first round played over two days, and which lasted three hours and 56 minutes, Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas squeezed past a resurgent Dominic Thiem to book a highly-anticipated second round against two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray.

Thiem, who has yet to recover his form consistently ever since he injured his wrist two years ago, showed signs of his US Open-winning self during his battle with Tsitsipas.

The Austrian former world No.3, currently ranked 91, saved a match point with some clutch serving to force a deciding super-tiebreak against Tsitsipas, and wiped an early deficit before succumbing to a seventh consecutive defeat at the Grand Slams.

Tsitsipas, who is through to the second round at the All England Club for just the third time in six visits, is expecting a challenging affair against Murray, who won their most recent meeting, on grass in Stuttgart last season.

“I’m not expecting anyone supporting me,” Tsitsipas told the No.2 Court crowd, looking ahead to his clash with Murray.

“That’s not my first rodeo. No, look, I mean Andy – I’ll share something with you a few years ago when I was a kid, I remember witnessing his first Wimbledon title and thinking about it now kind of gives me goosebumps, because I kind of felt what he went through during that final. It was so difficult for him to close that last game and every time I rewatch that moment I just feel shivers all over my body.

“He’s someone who does so much for the sport, obviously I’ll go in with lots of respect for the opponent that I’m facing and hopefully I can bring out my best game. He’s a tough competitor, he won’t give up. That court over there is almost like his living room. I hope we can play a Centre Court battle, I’ve never played on Centre Court, the furthest I’ve gone is Court 1, so let’s just pray for that.”

Tsitsipas got his wish with their second round scheduled third on Centre Court on Thursday.

On his part, Thiem paid credit to Tsitsipas’ level in the tiebreak and takes lots of positives from his performance overall.

“Obviously it was a great encounter, and to me, I'm leaving with heads up,” said the 29-year-old Thiem.

“Kind of showed me that I'm still there. The quality was very, very good. The fighting spirit was really, really good. Yeah, this match showed me a lot of good things that I'm still here, still able to compete with the big boys of the game.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem, 1e tour, Wimbledon 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Stat of the day

Novak Djokovic hit a new Grand Slam milestone on Wednesday, becoming just the third player in history to record 350 match-wins at the majors, after Roger Federer and Serena Williams.

The Serb booked his place in the Wimbledon third round for a 17th time with a 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-5 victory over Australian Jordan Thompson in two hours and 28 minutes.

Djokovic, who is bidding to win his eighth Wimbledon title and equal Roger Federer’s all-time record for the most Wimbledon men’s singles titles won, awaits Stan Wawrinka or Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the last-32 stage.

The world No.2 is also looking to win his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title and become the third man in the Open Era to record a streak of five consecutive Wimbledon crowns – after Federer (who won five straight titles here from 2003 to 2007) and Bjorn Borg (1976-80).

Comeback of the day

Marta Kostyuk fell to the ground in tears after upsetting Greek No.8 seed Maria Sakkari in their postponed opening round.

In a match that was initially scheduled for Tuesday, and was interrupted twice for the rain on Wednesday, Kostyuk got bagelled in the first set before completing a 0-6, 7-5, 6-2 comeback to reach the Wimbledon third round for a third consecutive year.

“First of all thank you guys for your support and for staying, even though it was raining,” the 21-year-old Ukrainian told the No.2 Court crowd.

“I probably have never been interrupted twice in my life (in a match), so it was an interesting experience. Every time I was going into the rain break, I was going through different emotions because I couldn’t put the ball in. I just wanted to fight.

“I was crying during the rain delays and I tried to figure it out. Probably it helped me that I was down in the score because it kept me together and I tried to come back in the match. Not easy going through these couple of days.”

Kostyuk’s reward is a second-round meeting with Spain’s Paula Badosa.

Swiatek breezes through

While some players have yet to begin their first-round matches, Iga Swiatek has smoothly strolled into the third round with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo.

The Polish world No.1 picked up her 40th match-win of the season, and extended her current winning streak to 12 consecutive matches.

Swiatek awaits No.30 seed Petra Martic or Frenchwoman Diane Parry in the last-32 stage.

“It was another solid performance from me so I'm pretty happy with the result and how I played,” said the two-time Roland-Garros champion.

“It's never easy to play against Sara because she runs to everything, she's always kind of resetting the rally. But I wanted to be patient. I really used my power today. That was a great match for me, I think.”

Iga Swiatek / 2e tour Wimbledon 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Quote of the day

"It was amazing, I honestly didn’t know which reception I would get and it was just unbelievable guys. I need to be honest here, I’m not loved everywhere for who I am, sometimes I get crazy on the court, sometimes I get crazy with the crowd. It was an amazing feeling to be back here."

-- Daniil Medvedev is a happy man following his first-round 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 victory over British wildcard Arthur Fery.

Daniil Medvedev / 1e tour Wimbledon 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Feel-good moment of the day

Former world No.2 Anett Kontaveit, who has announced she will be retiring from tennis after Wimbledon at the age of 27, extended her stay in south-west London a little longer as she earned a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Lucrezia Stefanini. The Estonian plays No.32 seed Marie Bouzkova next.