Sela stuns Isner to reach Wimbledon third round

Isner had chances to break back in the seventh and ninth games, but Sela prevailed in the important points and closed out a memorable win.

Dudi Sela (photo credit: ISRAEL TENNIS ASSOCIATION)
Dudi Sela
Dudi Sela registered one of the biggest wins of his career on Thursday to reach the third round of Wimbledon, defeating No. 23 seed John Isner in a five-set thriller.
After advancing to the second round of Wimbledon for the first time since 2011 with a five-set victory over Marcel Granollers of Spain, Sela went the distance once more against ace-machine Isner, who has a 33-centimeter height advantage over the Israeli.
Isner finished with 45 aces to Sela’s five, but it was the Israeli No. 1 who claimed a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-3 win after three hours and 51 minutes to progress to the last 32 at the All England Club.
Break point conversion was always going to be crucial in a showdown with Isner and Sela converted two of his five attempts, while saving 12 of the American’s 14 break opportunities.
The 32-year-old Israeli, ranked No. 90 in the world, twice came back from a set down for a second straight match to set up a third-round meeting with world No. 11 Grigor Dimitrov on Saturday. The Bulgarian beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 in one hour and 43 minutes on Thursday. Dimitrov reached the semifinals of Wimbledon three years ago, but was knocked out in the third round in each of the past two years.
Sela has lost all four previous career meetings against Dimitrov, just as he did against Isner prior to Thursday’s clash.
The best achievement of Sela’s Grand Slam career came at Wimbledon when he reached the last 16 in 2009. However, he had only progressed past the first round twice in eight appearances prior to this week.
Sela entered Wimbledon in promising form after claiming his second ATP Challenger Tour title of the year and 22nd of his career on the grass in Nottingham.
Elsewhere in the men’s singles, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic cruised into the third round. Federer beat Dusan Lajovic 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 to set up a showdown with Mischa Zverev. Djokovic defeated Adam Pavlasek 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 and will next play Latvian Ernests Gulbis, who surprised Argentina’s Juan Martín del Potro 6-4, 6-4 7-6 (3).
Meanwhile in the women’s singles, one of the Wimbledon pre-tournament favorites Karolina Pliskova was dumped out in round two, with Slovakia’s 87th-ranked Magdalena Rybarikova beating her 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 on Centre Court. Top seed Angelique Kerber battled past Kirsten Flipkens to reach the third round, overcoming the Belgian’s unorthodox game to win 7-5, 7-5.
Kerber, who reached the final last year, again showed signs of the vulnerability that has dogged her game in 2017, but served out to win in one hour 44 minutes.
Reuters contributed to this report.