Sinner, Alcaraz move on at Wimbledon as Osaka slumps on Centre Court return

'Always next year': Naomi Osaka in her defeat to Emma Navarro (HENRY NICHOLLS)
'Always next year': Naomi Osaka in her defeat to Emma Navarro (HENRY NICHOLLS)

Title rivals Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz reached the Wimbledon third round on Wednesday as Japanese superstar Naomi Osaka was demolished on her return to Centre Court after a five-year absence.

Australian Open champion Sinner defeated Italian Davis Cup teammate Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 7-6 (7/4) in a three-hour 42-minute duel.

Berrettini, the 2021 runner-up, fired 65 winners, including 28 aces, past the top seed and carved out four breaks of serve to two.

However, Sinner calmly recovered from a break down in the fourth set before playing the more composed tiebreak, which ended when Berrettini committed his 48th and final unforced error of the contest.

"It's very tough we had to face each other in the second round," said 2023 semi-finalist Sinner, who will take on Miomir Kecmanovic for a place in the last 16.

Alcaraz defeated Australia's world number 69 Aleksandar Vukic 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 6-2 on the back of 42 winners.

The third-seeded Spaniard's only moments of concern came in the first set when he let slip a 5-2 lead and found himself 5-6 down with Vukic serving for the opener.

However, the three-time major winner steadied the ship to race away to victory against a player who got the better of him in qualifying at the 2020 French Open.

Alcaraz next faces fellow crowd-pleaser Frances Tiafoe, the American he defeated in five sets in the semi-finals of the 2022 US Open on his way to his first Grand Slam triumph.

- 'Going for him' -

"I'm going for him," said Alcaraz, who is bidding to become just the sixth man after Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to win the French Open and Wimbledon titles back to back.

"I'm ready to play a really high level of tennis and hopefully take him."

Tiafoe made the third round by seeing off Borna Coric in straight sets.

Four-time major winner Osaka, playing on Centre Court for the first time since 2019, went down 6-4, 6-1 to America's Emma Navarro in just 59 minutes.

The 26-year-old former world number one is now ranked at 113 having only returned to the tour in January after giving birth to daughter Shai last year.

"I'm a little disappointed because I wanted to do really well. I feel like I put a lot of time into it. There's always next year," said Osaka.

- 'Love and hate' -

Eccentric Fabio Fognini of Italy needed a clutch of match points to knock out eighth-seeded Casper Ruud 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (1/7), 6-3.

The 37-year-old Fognini, sporting bleach-blond hair, twice served for the match from 5-2 up in the third set before sealing victory over the three-time Grand Slam runner-up in the fourth set.

"It just shows why I love and hate this sport," said Fognini.

Daniil Medvedev, the 2021 US Open champion, came back from dropping the first set to see off Alexandre Muller of France 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 7-5.

Tomas Machac, who had been scheduled to face Andy Murray before the two-time champion withdrew, came back from 0-5 down in the final set to beat lucky loser David Goffin in a tie-break.

In all, there were a Grand Slam record-tying eight comebacks from two sets down in the first round, with opening matches running into the third day due to rain delays.

In one of the most tense, Australia's Thanasi Kokkinakis defeat 17th-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime 4-6, 5-7, 7-6 (11/9), 6-4, 6-4 in four hours and 38 minutes.

The 93rd-ranked Kokkinakis saved four match points in the third-set tie-break.

World number two and US Open champion Coco Gauff cruised into the third round with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Romanian qualifier Anca Todoni.

The American, who made her career breakthrough at Wimbledon as a 15-year-old qualifier in 2019, goes on to face British qualifier Sonay Kartal, the world number 298.

Former US Open champions Emma Raducanu of Britain and Bianca Andreescu of Canada also progressed.

Zhang Zhizhen's bid to become the first Chinese man in the Open era to reach the third round at Wimbledon fizzled out in a four-set defeat to Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff.

Teenage compatriot Shang Juncheng will have the same opportunity on Thursday when he faces 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov in one of eight second-round ties pushed back a day due to rain.