LONDON • David Ferrer became the highest-ranked casualty in the men's singles at this year's Wimbledon when French serve-and-volleyer Nicolas Mahut overpowered him 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 in the second round yesterday.
The 13th-seeded Spaniard, a quarter-finalist in 2012 and 2013, has suffered a form reversal this year, dropping out of the world's top 10 for the first time in nearly six years in May.
Yesterday, he never looked capable of turning things around against his fellow 34-year-old, the former French Open finalist who was part of Wimbledon folklore after losing to American John Isner in the longest match in tennis history in 2010 - an epic that last 11 hours and five minutes.
Soon afterwards, Milos Raonic equalled the fastest serve seen at Wimbledon this year when the sixth seed blasted past Italian Andreas Seppi 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-2 to reach the third round.
The Canadian, coached by three-time champion John McEnroe, tripped the speed gun at 228kmh, equalling the delivery sent down by Australian Sam Groth in the first round.
The fastest serve ever recorded at the All England Club was hit at 238kmh by American Taylor Dent six years ago.
Later, home-grown hero Dan Evans told a Wimbledon audience that British men's tennis is blessed with better players than many fans realise, after dismantling 30th seed Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, 6-1 to reach the third round.
Men's singles 2nd rd (selected)
Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) bt Gilles Simon (Fra) 6-3 7-6 (7-1) 4-6 6-4, Kei Nishikori (Jpn) bt Julien Benneteau (Fra) 4-6 6-4 6-4 6-2, Marin Cilic (Cro) bt Sergiy Stakhovsky (Ukr) 6-2 6-7 (8-6) 6-4 6-4, Milos Raonic (Can) bt Andreas Seppi (Ita) 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-2, Lukas Lacko (Svk) bt Ivo Karlovic (Cro) 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4, David Goffin (Bel) bt Edouard Roger-Vasselin (Fra) 6-4 6-0 6-3, Nicolas Mahut (Fra) bt David Ferrer (Esp) 6-1 6-4 6-3, Daniel Evans (Gbr) bt Alexandr Dolgopolov (Ukr) 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-1. 1st rd: John Isner (USA) bt Marcos Baghdatis (Cyp) 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.
Women's 2nd rd (selected)
Angelique Kerber (Ger) bt Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 6-1 6-4, Julia Boserup (USA) beat Belinda Bencic (Sui) 6-4 1-0 (ret), Katerina Siniakova (Cze) bt Caroline Garcia (Fra) 4-6 6-4 6-1, Venus Williams (USA) bt Maria Sakkari (Gre) 7-5 4-6 6-3, Alize Cornet (Fra) beat Sara Errani (Ita) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5, Misaki Doi (Jpn) bt Karolina Pliskova (Cze) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3, Simona Halep (Rom) bt Francesca Schiavone (Ita) 6-1 6-1, Sabine Lisicki (Ger) bt Samantha Stosur (Aus) 6-4 6-2. 1st rd: Sloane Stephens (USA) bt Peng Shuai (Chn) 7-6 (7-5) 6-2.
In a country still licking its football wounds after its national team made an early Euro 2016 exit, the win revived the feel-good factor generated on Monday when self-confessed "loser" Marcus Willis dropped just 10 games in beating Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis, a player ranked 718 places above him.
"It's amazing what he's done," Evans said. "I think this Wimbledon has opened the eyes of people that we're actually pretty good at tennis.
"I think (the players) should be a bit more appreciated. Everyone puts the work in for the year (and) we're all trying as hard as each other."
With Willis, Evans and - inevitably - Andy Murray all reaching round two or better and Britain holding the Davis Cup and boasting four men inside the top 100, the sentiment carries weight.
Evans' plea for broader national recognition for his sport would become a roar if he wins his next match - against seven-time champion Roger Federer - who on Wednesday wrote the final chapter in Willis' Wimbledon fairytale.
"(Federer's) not a normal guy obviously, but he's another tennis player," said Evans. "I just have to prepare myself and try and put that to the back of my head, that it's Roger I'm playing. Go out and give it my best."
In women's singles action, Venus Williams ignored her exile to Court 18 as the five-time champion recovered to defeat Greek qualifier Maria Sakkari 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
The American, seeded eighth, had not lost to a player outside the top 100 at a Grand Slam since a 1999 defeat by Barbara Schwartz at the US Open.
But the 36-year-old, the oldest woman in this year's main draw, was teetering on the brink of an embarrassing second-round exit when world No. 115 Sakkari levelled at one set all.
But the seven-time Grand Slam winner held her nerve to subdue Sakkari in two hours and 24 minutes to take her tally of Wimbledon match victories to 78, second among active players behind her sister Serena's 80.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Day 5: Singtel TV Ch114/ 116 & StarHub Ch208/210, 6.30pm