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Poland's Iga Swiatek serves the ball to Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo during their women's singles on the third day of the Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon on Wednesday. Image Credit: AFP

London: Iga Swiatek eased through at Wimbledon on Wednesday while Novak Djokovic took another step towards a record-equalling eighth men’s title as the All England Club reeled from rain delays and climate protests.

Djokovic became only the third player in history to win 350 Grand Slam singles matches after seeing off the challenge of Jordan Thompson.

The defending champion beat his unseeded Australian opponent 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 to reach the third round, where he will meet Tomas Martin Etcheverry or Stan Wawrinka.

Roger Federer (369) and Serena Williams (365), both of whom retired last year, are the only players with more Grand Slam singles wins than Djokovic.

A single break secured the first set for the Serbian second seed and he edged the second-set tie-break to establish an iron grip on the match on Centre Court.

Thompson, ranked 70th in the world, remained steady on his serve in the third set but eventually cracked in the 12th game when trailing 6-5.

The 36-year-old Djokovic is targeting an eighth Wimbledon title, which would draw him level with Federer's men's record.

He is also chasing a 24th career Grand Slam title, which would equal Margaret Court's all-time record.

Scheduling headache

The unseasonable cold and wet have given officials a scheduling headache.

Tuesday’s torrential downpours meant only one hour’s play was possible on the outside courts and just eight matches completed.

In all, 87 ties were on Wednesday’s menu, but rain again played spoilsport, with the start delayed by 90 minutes.

Eventually 14 matches were pushed back to Thursday.

Once play got underway, two climate protesters from the Just Stop Oil environmental activist group ran onto Court 18, one of the showpiece arenas, to scatter orange confetti and jigsaw pieces during Grigor Dimitrov’s match against Sho Shimabukuro.

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A Just Stop Oil demonstrator throws orange confetti on court 18 as he disrupts the women's match between Australia's Daria Saville and Britain's Katie Boulter. Image Credit: AFP

Two arrests

The two, both in their 60s, were removed by security staff.

“Following an incident on Court 18, two individuals have been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass and criminal damage and these individuals have now been removed from the grounds,” said a Wimbledon spokesman.

Just hours later, the match between Katie Boulter and Daria Saville on the same court was held up when another protester repeated the confetti-jigsaw gesture to jeers from frustrated fans.

Women’s top seed Swiatek beat Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-2, 6-0 to cruise into the third round.

The reigning US Open and French Open champion has never been beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon but has dropped just six games so far in this year’s tournament.

World No 3 Daniil Medvedev marked his return to Wimbledon after last year’s ban on Russian players with a first-round win.

Former US Open champion Medvedev defeated French-born British wild card Arthur Fery 7-5, 6-4, 6-3.

In 2022, the All England Club banned all Russian and Belarusian players in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

‘Playing Superman?’

US ninth seed Taylor Fritz saw off Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann in five sets in a match which had started on Monday.

Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk clinched the day’s first shock by coming back to down Greek eighth seed Maria Sakkari 0-6, 7-5, 6-2 in a first round tie twice interrupted for the rain.

Men’s 10th seed Frances Tiafoe, who made the last 16 in 2022, saw off China’s Wu Yibing in straight sets.

Wu needed a medical time out at the end of the first set after falling ill but still pushed his American opponent with some impressive shot-making.

“Am I playing Superman right now?” asked a bemused Tiafoe.

Later Wednesday, Petra Kvitova, widely seen as a contender for a third women’s title, begins her campaign against Jasmine Paolini.

Main draw debut

The veteran Czech defeated the 44th-ranked Italian at the same stage in 2022 and arrives at the All England Club fresh from winning her sixth career grass-court title in Berlin.

Kvitova’s compatriot, Karolina Pliskova, the 2021 Wimbledon runner-up, tackles Serbia’s Natalija Stevanovic, ranked at a lowly 225.

After falling in qualifying 10 times at the Slams, Stevanovic is finally making her Grand Slam main draw debut at the age of 28.

Fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas resumes his clash with former US Open champion Dominic Thiem after dropping the first set on Tuesday.

Holger Rune, the world No 6, is back on court to complete his first round clash with Britain’s George Loffhagen.