Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both picked up straight-set wins to advance to the third round at Wimbledon. 

By Daniel Rapaport
July 05, 2018

Rafael Nadal has struggled at Wimbledon in recent years. Novak Djokovic has struggled in general recently. But both players had no issue picking up straight-set wins Thursday to advance to the third round at the All England Club.

The second-seeded Nadal, who has two Wimbledon titles but hasn't advanced past the fourth round since 2011, beat Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. Kukushkin, whose flat-hitting style starkly contrasted Nadal's topspin-heavy game, had break chances in every set and managed to go up a break early in the third. But Nadal eventually overpowered the world No. 77. 

Nadal is attempting to win the French Open-Wimbledon double for the third time—he won both tournaments in 2008 and 2010. 

Djokovic, a three-time Wimbledon champion who is the No. 12 seed due to recent struggles, breezed by Horacio Zeballos 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 31 minutes. It's Djokovic's second straight-set victory in a row as the 12-time Grand Slam champion attempts to regain the form that catapulted him to the pinnacle of the sport just a few years ago. 

The only hiccup for Djokovic came in the third set, when he called on the trainer to treat what appeared to be an issue with his left knee. But Djokovic rebounded to serve out the match and was all smiles when addressing the crowd post-match. 

Perhaps the biggest upset in a tournament that's filled with them—four of the top eight seeds on the women's side lost in the first round, and three of the top 10 in the men's draw did as well—came courtesy of world No. 82 Guido Pella, who came back from two sets down to beat No. 3 seed and 2017 Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-5. 

The match began on Wednesday, and Cilic was in complete control until a rain delay hampered his momentum. Pella raised his level after the delay but Cilic also dropped his, and the oddsmakers' second-favorite behind Federer saw his Wimbledon end far earlier than he expected. 

Cilic is the second top-eight seed on Federer's side to lose early, as No. 6 Grigor Dimitrov lost to Stanislas Wawrinka in the first round. The highest-ranked player standing between Federer and the final is now No. 8 Kevin Anderson. 

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