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Britain's Liam Broady stretches for a backhand return to Norway's Casper Ruud during their match on the fourth day of the Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

London: British wildcard Liam Broady claimed the biggest win of his career and the biggest shock of Wimbledon 2023 when he stunned Norwegian fourth seed Casper Ruud 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-3 6-0 in front of a delirious Centre Court crowd on Thursday.

Swiss veteran Stan Wawrinka displayed vintage form on Thursday to book a third-round clash with holder Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev won a rain-delayed opener as the grasscourt Grand Slam cleared its backlog.

Broady belied his 142nd ranking against a player who has reached three of the last five Grand Slam finals but had struggled at Wimbledon in his three previous appearances.

After four closely-fought, if erratic sets, Ruud, who said he had spent the three weeks since reaching the French Open final relaxing well away from tennis, looked like he had mentally packed his bags again in the fifth as Broady ripped through it, barely dropping a point, to seal a memorable win.

“When I went to bed last night, I was having a think of what I’d say if I won the match, but now I’m here I don’t know what to say,” Broady said in an on-court interview.

“I said to my mum this morning, she doesn’t like watching, but I said I’ve already won £80,000 this week so she can chill out a bit.”

Apart from one of them being one of the world’s top players and the other every inch a Tour journeyman, there was very little between the two for much of the match not least in their extraordinarily similar appearance.

Identical shirts

Both 6ft 4ins (183cm) and of similar build, they sported identical shirts and shorts and both had tie-up white headbands, with only a small logo on the front of Ruud’s giving the eagle-eyed an identity clue.

It meant concentration was needed to watch them as a glance away from the court left fans having to quickly recalibrate who to cheer — and there was plenty of opportunity on both sides.

Broady was into his stride quickly as the Norwegian struggled to adapt to the grass surface he is very unfamiliar with and though the Briton was first to drop serve, he hit back to take the first set.

It was a similar start to the second set as Ruud broke for 3-1, but this time maintained his advantage.

When he went two sets to one up, it seemed the natural order would be resumed, but Broady thought otherwise.

He cut down his errors and produced a run of strong service games to take charge of the fourth, epitomised by serving out to love finished off by his first ace of the match — to force a decider.

Different sports

Since losing to Novak Djokovic in Paris, Ruud has been clay pigeon shooting, playing golf and soaking up the sun on a boat, hardly the best preparation for the game’s most prestigious tournament.

As he started to wilt and needed medical attention for blisters on his foot, Broady sensed blood, breaking to love in the opening game of the fifth set and, using his double-fisted backhand to good effect, he came from 40-0 down to break again and served out to love for 4-0.

He broke to love again and served out for his first Tour win over a top-10 player, also becoming the lowest-ranked player Ruud has lost to.

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Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka in action during his second round match against Argentina's Tomas Martin Etcheverry on Thursday. Image Credit: Reuters

Wawrinka sets up Djokovic clash

The 38-year-old Wawrinka, winner of three Grand Slam titles and twice a Wimbledon quarter-finalist, knocked out 29th seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-2.

His reward was a first meeting on grass with Djokovic who has beaten him in 20 of their 26 clashes.

“There’s zero opportunity to win Wimbledon for me, I think. I’m happy to have won today again. It was great match. It’s an honour to play Novak here,” Wawrinka said.

“I was missing that in my career to play him in the Grand Slam in Wimbledon. Hopefully, I can make a competitive match, but if you will look at recent results, I don’t really stand a chance.” Persistent rain on the first three days of the year’s third major meant organisers were left with little chance of finishing matches on schedule and former world number two Zverev took to the court for his first-round clash only on Thursday.

His 6-4 7-6(4) 7-6(5) win over Dutch qualifier Gijs Brouwer — helped by 20 booming aces — meant the All England Club was finally done with all its singles opening round fixtures shortly after 3pm local time.

Slow start

Former runner-up Matteo Berrettini was also among those who moved into the second round as the Italian recovered from a slow start to his match that began on Tuesday to defeat compatriot Lorenzo Sonego 6-7(5) 6-3 7-6(7) 6-3.

It was a memorable day for Andrey Rublev who overcame fellow Russian Aslan Karatsev 6-7(4) 6-3 6-4 7-5 to bag his 50th Grand Slam match victory and move into the third round.

Former semi-finalist Elina Svitolina continued her fine run after her maternity break as the wildcard from Ukraine shook off a mid-match wobble to down 28th seed Elise Mertens 6-1 1-6 6-1.

She set up an intriguing clash with American Sofia Kenin after the former major champion eased past China’s Wang Xinyu 6-4 6-3.

Russian 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva — who burst onto the scene in Madrid this year — advanced to the third round on her Wimbledon main draw debut after 10th seed Barbora Krejcikova quit their clash due to injury while trailing 6-3 4-0.

Estonian Anett Kontaveit, who reached a career-high number two last year, lost to Marie Bouzkova 6-1 6-2 in her final match before she retires from the sport.

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Switzerland's Belinda Bencic celebrates her winning over Danielle Collins of the US on Thursday. Image Credit: Reuters

Bencic rallies past Collins

Swiss 14th seed Belinda Bencic battled from a set and a break down to send American Danielle Collins tumbling out of Wimbledon on Thursday with a 3-6 6-4 7-6 (10-2) victory that earned her a third-round meeting with Poland’s Magda Linette.

Former Australian Open runner-up Collins powered through the opening set in 43 minutes and broke early in the second to take control of the contest on Court Two, as Olympic champion Bencic struggled to make her opportunities count.

Bencic, who has not gone past the Wimbledon fourth round, found her groove and threatened to break Collins back but could not prevent the 29-year-old American from extending her lead.

However, wayward serving by world No 52 Collins allowed Bencic to level at 3-3 and the 26-year-old Abu Dhabi and Adelaide champion stepped up her game to force a deciding set.

Bencic clenched her fists and let out a roar after holding serve in a fiercely-contested fifth game and kept calm under pressure later in the tiebreak to advance.

Garcia squeezes through

It took a 10-point shoot-out, but French fifth seed Caroline Garcia finally overcame Leylah Fernandez in three sets to reach the third round in early evening sunshine on Thursday.

Having dropped the opening set 6-3, in which Fernandez slammed 10 clean winners, the Frenchwoman her right racket-arm and shoulder strapped heavily level with a 6-4 second set before doing just enough to edge the championship tiebreak in a decider during which neither player was able to break serve.

Canada’s Fernandez, displaying glimpses of the form which took her to that surreal 2021 US Open final which she lost to Britain’s Emma Raducanu, played with poise and power from the back of the court, and caused Garcia problems throughout.

Garcia, who skipped across the court pumping her fist and beaming a huge smile in victory, will next face Czech Marie Bouzkova who sent Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit into retirement from professional tennis with a 6-1 6-2 victory.