Nadal passes tricky test against Kukushkin

GETTYWimbledon ball boys and girls are military-like

World number one Rafael Nadal won the first match he has played since last month's French Open triumph, beating Israel's Dudi Sela in straight sets to reach the Wimbledon second round.

The Argentine will next face Feliciano Lopez, who broke Roger Federer's record by appearing in a 66th consecutive Grand Slam singles tournament as he defeated Federico Delbonis of Argentina 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

He was at it again on Wimbledon's Centre Court on Thursday during a hard-earned second-round win over Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin.

Japan's Kei Nishikori overcame a mid-match blip to beat American qualifier Christian Harrison 6-2 4-6 7-6 (3) 6-2.

As the high-profile British star in Andy Murray's absence, Kyle Edmund rose to the occasion with a 6-2 6-3 7-5 win against Alex Bolt.

Jimmy Connors (84), Boris Becker (71) and Pete Sampras (63) are the only other players who sit above the Serb.

The two-time Wimbledon champion took an hour and 50 minutes to eliminate Sela, world No. 127, moving a step closer to claiming his 18th Grand Slam title, reported Efe. Halep will square off in the second round against Chinese world No. 126 Saisai Zheng. Third seed Muguruza next faces Belgium's Alison Van Uytvanck.

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The outing against Brazil though, has to rank as one of his best in national colours so far, if not the best. Both have played key roles in helping their teams to the last four.

Kyrgios, seeded 15, hammered down 42 aces and unleashed 78 winners. Plus, Djokovic has never lost to someone ranked as low as Zeballos at a major and is 1-0 in their lone head-to-head meeting.

Zverev recorded his best Wimbledon performance previous year by reaching the round of 16.

As seeds further down the rankings tumble, those at the top and - in the case of Nadal and Djokovic - former champions are staying strong.

Three-time victor Djokovic starts against Tennys Sandgren of the United States, returning to the tournament which ended in an injury-enforced quarter-final withdrawal 12 months ago. Williams is also the lone past Wimbledon champion left in the women's bracket; she owns seven titles, including in 2015 and 2016, the previous two times she entered the tournament.

The former world number one missed the 2016 event as she served a doping ban and was injured previous year when she was planning to appear in the qualifying event.

Russia's Maria Sharapova, however, suffered an upset against 132nd-ranked countrywoman Vitalia Diatchenko.

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