Del Potro shines as rain delays may mean middle Sunday play
Juan Martin del Potro admitted he felt "alive again" after the injury-plagued former US Open champion sent Swiss fourth seed Stan Wawrinka crashing out of a wet and wild Wimbledon.
Rain not a dampener for Del Potro
On a day when rain caused a 10th delay of the week, forcing organisers to consider playing on the middle Sunday for the first time since 2004, the giant Del Potro shone beneath the Centre Court roof. Playing in his first Grand Slam tournament since the 2014 Australian Open, his 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 second round victory over Wawrinka brought back memories of his stunning 2009 US Open win before a series of wrist injuries pushed him to the brink of retirement. The world number 165 from Argentina, who was a semi-finalist in 2013 in what was his last appearance at Wimbledon, next faces French 32nd seed Lucas Pouille.
"It feels amazing, it's a great sensation," said the 27-year-old who has undergone three wrist surgeries in the last two years. I enjoyed the crowd. It's an incredible feeling, that's why my hands are still shaking. I feel alive again. After sitting at home for two years, this feels like a second or third career," said the former world number four.
Wawrinka, a quarter-finalist in 2014 and 2015, fired 47 winners past Del Potro but was undone by 48 unforced errors.
"We are happy that he's back. He's a great guy off the court. He's amazing player on the court. He's big champion," said Wawrinka.
A British summer
Meanwhile, Wimbledon suffered a third day of rain delays. Only one minute of action was possible on the outside courts in the first four hours. The tournament already had a backlog of 16 second round ties and with more rain expected Saturday, organisers admitted that play may take place on Sunday for the first time since 2004 and only the third time overall.
"Sunday play is being considered but a decision won't be made until tomorrow," a spokesman told AFP. All men's second round doubles matches were reduced to best of three sets rather than five in an effort to get the tournament back on the schedule.
Around two hours of play was possible in the afternoon but was halted at 5pm (1600GMT) with five-time champion Venus Williams holding match point against Russia's Daria Kasatkina on Court One. The 36-year-old American was 7-6, 40-30 ahead in the third set of the third round clash when a stoppage was called. By that stage, only eight matches had been completed with Czech 10th seed Tomas Berdych beating Benjamin Becker 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 and French 12th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga getting past Juan Monaco 6-1, 6-4, 6-3, also in the second round.
No court appearance
Defending champion and top seed Novak Djokovic, bidding for a third successive Wimbledon title and fourth in total, was due to take on America's Sam Querrey later Friday on Court One. Victory will give the Serb a 31st successive Grand Slam win taking him level with Rod Laver on the all-time list, six behind the record set by Don Budge in 1938. Djokovic has an 8-1 career record over the 28-year-old Querrey who has only reached the fourth round on one occasion, back in 2010.
Third seed Roger Federer, the seven-time champion, saw off world number 772 Marcus Willis in the second round and Friday faces another British player, 91st-ranked Daniel Evans under the Centre Court roof. Defending women's champion Serena Williams, chasing a seventh Wimbledon title and Open era record-equalling 22nd major, faces fellow American Christina McHale on Centre Court.
Also bidding for third round spots on Friday were Australian 15th seed Nick Kyrgios who faces Dustin Brown of Germany in a clash between two men who have both defeated Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in recent years. Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori was due to meet Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov, while two-time women's champion Petra Kvitova takes on Ekaterina Makarova of Russia.