Tennis: Badosa sets up Wimbledon third-round tie with Kvitova, Bautista Agut latest to catch virus

Paula Badosa celebrating after her match against Irina Bara at Wimbledon on June 30, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP, REUTERS) - Spanish women's fourth seed Paula Badosa beat Romania's Irina Bara 6-3, 6-2 on Thursday (June 30) to set up a Wimbledon third-round clash against two-time champion Petra Kvitova.

The 24-year-old Badosa, who reached the fourth round last year, broke her opponent four times during the match, winning 89 per cent of her points on first serve.

She will meet Kvitova, 32, in the third round after the Czech 25th seed beat Romania's Ana Bogdan 6-1, 7-6 (7-5).

Kvitova, who won the grass-court Grand Slam in 2011 and 2014, blew a 5-1 lead in the second set but held her nerve to come out on top in the tie-break.

Her compatriot and last year’s Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova, however, lost her second-round match on Thursday to British wildcard Katie Boulter 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4.

Said the world No. 118: “I am literally shaking. The crowd was unbelievable so thank you for getting me through that.

“I’m probably going to getting emotional. My grandmother died two days ago so I’d like to dedicate that to her today."

Badosa's Spanish compatriot, men's 17th seed Roberto Bautista Agut meanwhile, on Thursday became the third player to withdraw from this year's event with Covid-19 in a fresh blow for the tournament, which has returned to full capacity.

"Today I have notified @Wimbledon of my withdrawal. I have tested positive for Covid-19," tweeted the 34-year-old. "Fortunately, the symptoms are not very serious, but I think it is the best decision. Thanks for your support. I hope to come back soon."

The 2019 semi-finalist joins 2021 runner-up Matteo Berrettini as well as 2017 finalist Marin Cilic in pulling out of the event in the first week due to the coronavirus.

Bautista Agut's withdrawal means that Colombia's Daniel Elahi Galan receives a walkover into the third round.

Wimbledon was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic while the 2021 edition was run at reduced capacity with players confined to a bubble.

This year it is business as usual, with up to 42,000 fans each day, while players are responsible for testing themselves if necessary. That has led to fears that some will risk playing on at the tournament even if they are exhibiting symptoms.

"At the end of the day if you have got a bit of a cold, you play main draw of Wimbledon for £50,000 and a chance of more," said British player Liam Broady. "I'm not sure some of the lower-ranked guys are going to Scout's honour take themselves away and do a Covid test."

Rafael Nadal had practised with Berrettini at the All England Club last week but said on Tuesday after his opening match that he was "feeling great".

Nadal said he had been told by a physio from the ATP men's tour that it was up to players to decide whether they tested or not.

"Now if you tell me even if you are positive, you can keep playing, this is something I didn't know," said the two-time Wimbledon champion. "The only thing I used to know is up to you, even if you feel bad, if you want to be tested or not."

The All England Club told AFP that its Covid-19 policy "is constantly under review". Berrettini, Cilic and Bautista Agut had all been placed in the same half of the draw as Nadal.

French player Alize Cornet added to questions over the health protocols in tennis by claiming there had been an "epidemic of Covid" at the recent French Open but "nobody talked about it".

"I saw girls wearing masks, perhaps because they knew and did not want to pass it on," she said. Hours later, Cornet rowed back on her claims, writing on social media that she only "suspected a few cases of Covid during Roland Garros, without having any proof".

Meanwhile, Australian Nick Kyrgios delivered a devastating serving masterclass as he blasted past Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 in 85 minutes to charge into the third round.

There were none of the complaints or run-ins with fans that were of a feature of his first-round match – Kyrgios barely had time – as he pounded down 24 aces, with only one double fault overall.

Krajinovic, ranked 31st but seen as a dangerous floater on grass after reaching the Queens Club final earlier this month, could do nothing in the face of the barrage as Kyrgios did not let up from start to finish.

“I was in my zone today, I couldn’t have played better,” he said. 

“It’s a tournament where I feel it’s my chance to win a Grand Slam, but I’ll take it game-by-game.”

Next up for the Australian is fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who romped into the third round at Wimbledon with an accomplished 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Jordan Thompson under the roof on Court One.

“We’ve had some great matches at many levels of competition,” Tsitsipas said of Kyrgios.

“I have great respect for the way he fights when he really wants to.”

Kyrgios beat Tsitsipas the last time they met – on grass in the second round at Halle earlier this month.

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