Sela puts up valiant fight in loss to Simon

Venus weathers Date-Krumm storm as rain hits; brilliant Nadal too hot for Sweeting.

Dudi Sela at Wimbledon 311 (R) (photo credit: Reuters)
Dudi Sela at Wimbledon 311 (R)
(photo credit: Reuters)
LONDON – Dudi Sela’s 16- match winning streak came to an end in the second round of Wimbledon on Wednesday night after he suffered a 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-5 defeat to No. 15 seed Gilles Simon.
The 26-year-old Israeli was confident he could get the better of the Frenchman after coming through his first round match in straight sets.
However, Sela never really found his rhythm on Wednesday, and after claiming three straight Challenger events and winning just his second Grand Slam match in nearly two years to reach the second round, he crashed out to Simon for his first defeat since April.
Despite the loss, Sela (84 in the world) will leave Wimbledon in a buoyant mood considering he was ranked as low as No. 147 less than two months ago.
His recent winning run has given him a promising platform for the rest of the year and he will be feeling confident ahead of the upcoming hard court season.
Sela recorded the first break of serve in the match in the fifth game, winning eight points in a row at one stage.
However, Simon broke straight back and Sela saved three set points in the 12th game to force a tiebreak.
But the breaker was dominated by the Frenchman and Sela shouted in frustration as he made his way back to his chair.
The Israeli took an early lead in the second set as well (2-0), but once more he was broken back immediately and another break by Simon in the seventh game was all he needed to take the set.
After being broken in the first game of the third set, Sela denied Simon serving out the match in the 10th game, but could not hold his own serve in the subsequent game and dropped to a disappointing defeat.
In other action, it was Venus’s turn to supply the unique Williams family drama at Wimbledon on Wednesday as she survived a gripping three-set battle with 40-year-old Japanese Kimiko Date-Krumm.
A day after her younger sister Serena broke down in tears after beating Aravane Rezai in three sets, 23rd seed Venus was made to sweat buckets under the roof for a 6-7, 6-3, 8-6 win that lasted just under three hours.
Date-Krumm, who on Monday became the second-oldest player to win a singles match at the championships, stood toeto- toe with the American in a spellbinding duel that ebbed and flowed in front of a packed stadium.
On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal had his fans drooling with another muscle-bulging display of brilliance to crush Ryan Sweeting 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 and stay firmly on course to defend his All-England title.
Home hope Andy Murray also reached the third round with a routine 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 win over German Tobias Kamke.
The fourth seed continued the fluent form which brought him the Queen’s title this month, serving solidly and denying his opponent many chances to attack.
Murray, bidding to become the first British men’s singles champion at Wimbledon for 75 years, broke serve to lead 6- 5 in the third set and he sealed victory with a service winner on his first match point.
With rain in the air and the roof closed, wolf whistles echoed around Centre Court when the Spaniard changed his shirt and gasps of awe met his most effortless winners in a one-sided second-round match.
Action was in short supply elsewhere with rain delaying play on the other courts but Williams and Date-Krumm provided a whole day’s worth of it in a scrap that was an early contender for match of the tournament.
“I thought she played unbelievable today,” Williams, who returned from a five-month injury layoff at Eastbourne last week, told reporters.
“I thought she had some luck on her side, too, with net cords, balls hitting lines. I just thought today was a perfect storm for her to try to get a win.
“Thankfully I had some answers.”
Date-Krumm made her Wimbledon debut in 1989 when the Williams sisters were still bashing balls about on park courts in Compton and a Centre Court roof was still a pipe dream.
You have to scroll back to 1996 for her best performance here when she lost to Steffi Graf in the semi-finals before taking a 12-year break from tennis.
Monday’s win over Britain Katie O’Brien was actually her first Wimbledon singles victory for 14 years and she came desperately close to another as she pushed five-time champion Williams to the limit.
After breaking the slow-starting American’s first three service games for a 5-1 lead, she let the advantage slip and was wasteful again when a 6-2 lead in the tiebreak leaked away.
She eventually clinched the tiebreak 8-6 but Williams upped her game to level the match before moving 2-0 up in the decider.
Date-Krumm continued hitting the ball unerringly flat and close to the lines to work her way back to 2-2 and she stayed with the American until the death.
Finally, serving at 6-7 Date- Krumm buckled and her fate was sealed when a backhand narrowly missed the line.
Last year’s men’s runner-up Tomas Berdych wasted no time when he finally got on court, the sixth seed cruising past Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 and 10th seeded American Mardy Fish also progressed with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.
In late action, second-seeded Vera Zvonareva took care of fellow Russian Elena Vesnina 6-1, 7-6(5) and eight-seeded American Andy Roddick was up two sets on Victor Hanescu as of press time.
Reuters contributed to this report