Hamilton takes record sixth British GP win

Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton hailed his home fans after celebrating a record sixth British Grand Prix win on Sunday and stretching his lead over luckless Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas to 39 points.

Bottas, on pole position, finished a distant second after a safety car period turned the race decisively in Hamilton’s favour by handing the home favourite a free pitstop in a thrilling race.

It was Hamilton’s seventh win in 10 races this season and 80th of his career.

The five-times world champion, now on 223 points to Bottas’s 184, also banged in a late fastest lap, on a set of tyres that had already done 30 laps, to secure an extra point.

“Ah, what a day! I love you Silverstone,” Hamilton exclaimed over the radio after rapper Stormzy had waved the chequered flag, with Bottas 24.9 seconds behind.

Ferrari’s Monegasque Charles Leclerc was third after team mate Sebastian Vettel rammed into the back of Red Bull’s young charger Max Verstappen.

Vettel, who had been third but finished 16th, had to pit for a new front wing and collected a 10-second time penalty for causing the collision.

Verstappen ended up fifth and behind his French team mate Pierre Gasly.

Victory lifted Hamilton clear of Frenchman Alain Prost and the late Jim Clark, who both won five times in Britain, and the champion pulled over to collect a Union Jack from a marshal on his cool-down lap.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am to be here today,” declared Hamilton, interviewed by 2009 champion Jenson Button after parking up.

“So many British flags out there and I could see them lap after lap. Every year I’ve been coming I’ve seen it and noticed it and appreciated it. You’d think you’d get used to something like that but I tell you, it feels like the first time.”

SAFETY CAR

Hamilton and Bottas battled for the first few laps, with the Finn losing and retaking the lead, but the decisive moment came when Italian Antonio Giovinazzi spun his Alfa Romeo into the gravel on lap 20.

Bottas had pitted three laps earlier but Hamilton had yet to come in for fresh tyres and was able to take advantage and pit without losing position for hard tyres that took him to the finish.

Behind the Mercedes pair, 21-year-olds Leclerc and Verstappen kept the crowd enthralled with a wheel-to-wheel reprise of their duel in Austria two weeks earlier.

Time and again they battled for position, their positioning inch perfect and with Leclerc being every bit as tough on Verstappen as the Dutch driver had been to him at sunny Spielberg.

Vettel, who had pitted with Hamilton when the safety car was deployed, then rammed into the back of the Red Bull on lap 38 after Verstappen had gone past around the outside of Stowe corner.

“He passed me and then ran a bit wide, which gave me the chance to come back,” said the German.

“It looked for a second that he was going to the right and there would be a gap on the left which didn’t open and by that time it was too late and I crashed.”

Spaniard Carlos Sainz was sixth for McLaren, ahead of Renault’s Australian Daniel Ricciardo and Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Russian Daniil Kvyat was ninth for Toro Rosso and Nico Hulkenberg took the final point for Renault on a good day for the French manufacturer.

More Tour de France joy for Impey with stage win

South African Daryl Impey added an individual stage win to his Tour de France happy memories when he prevailed at the end of a long breakaway from St Etienne on Sunday.

The Mitchelton Scott rider, who wore the race’s yellow jersey for a couple of days in 2013, beat Belgian Tiesj Benoot in a two-man sprint after the duo went clear from the day’s breakaway.

Slovenia’s Jan Tratnik took third place, 10 seconds behind as France’s Julian Alaphilippe retained the overall lead after 170.5 kilometres with the top guns enjoying an easy day on a bumpy stage nine.

Frenchman Romain Bardet, a two-time podium finisher who has already lost considerable ground in the general classification, attacked in the Cote de St Just (3.6km at 7.2%), 13km from the finish.

He was followed by Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk and Australian Richie Porte, but the trio were easily reined in by defending champion Geraint Thomas’s Ineos team.

Following a hectic finale in Saturday’s eighth stage which saw Frenchman Thibaut Pinot gain almost half a minute on Thomas and the defending champion take a tumble, there were no fireworks on Bastille Day.

A 15-man breakaway, featuring former Tour individual stage winners Tony Martin and Edvald Boasson Hagen, opened a gap of more than 10 minutes but none were a threat to Alaphilippe’s overall lead.

Italian Alessandro De Marchi was taken to a hospital with facial injuries after a nasty crash, his CCC team said.

The three-time Vuelta a Espane stage winner crashed after eight kilometres and was first attended to by the race’s medical staff as he laid with his face on the deck.

In the front, Benoot and Impey emerged as the strongest men at top of the Cote de St Just and the South African, who snatched the yellow jersey in Nice six years ago when his team won the time trial, was the fastest to the line.

The main bunch crossed more than 16 minutes later.

Monday’s 10th stage is a 217.5-km ride from St Flour to Albi, where the race will enjoy its first rest day on Tuesday.

Wait goes on for Williams as inspired Halep wins Wimbledon

Serena Williams remained tantalisingly one short of a record-equalling 24 Grand Slam singles titles as Simona Halep thrashed the off-key American in a one-sided Wimbledon final on Saturday.

Halep began the week halting American 15-year-old Coco Gauff’s dream run and will end it at the Champions Ball after dismantling seven-times winner Williams 6-2 6-2 with an inspired display on Centre Court.

She is Romania’s first Wimbledon singles champion.

The 27-year-old set the tone by breaking the Williams serve in the opening game and raced into a 4-0 lead in front of 15,000 incredulous fans.

She remained rock solid throughout, making only three unforced errors in a remarkable display of defence mixed with clinical counter-punching. Williams simply could not respond.

Even when Williams fired herself up at the start of the second set and began thumping the ball with her customary power, seventh seed Halep refused to back off.

Halep weathered the squall, then reeled off the last five games of what she described as the match of her life.

Williams has now lost three Grand Slam finals without winning a set since returning to action last March, following the birth of daughter Olympia in September 2017.

But this was the most chastening as she lasted only 56 minutes before biffing a forehand into the net — her 26th unforced error — to end the contest.

It was the second shortest Wimbledon final since Martina Navratilova thrashed Andrea Jaeger in 1983, one minute longer than Petra Kvitova’s trouncing of Eugenie Bouchard five years ago.

“She played out of her mind,” Williams, who had won nine of her previous 10 matches against Halep, said on court after picking up the runners-up salver for the second straight year, having ran into a similarly inspired Angelique Kerber last year.

“It was a little bit a deer in headlights for me. Whenever a player plays like that you just have to take your hat off.”

Until Saturday the only other Romanian to reach a Wimbledon final was Ilie Nastase who finished runner-up in 1972 and 1976. Halep went one better as she added the Wimbledon crown to the French Open she won in 2018.

‘MOTHER’S DREAM’

Halep said it had been her “mother’s dream” for her to hold aloft the Venus Rosewater Dish.

Victory means she becomes a lifetime Wimbledon member.

“I wanted this badly,” she said. “When I started the tournament, I talked to the people from the locker room that my dream is to become a member here. So today it’s real.

“I’m very sure that was the best match of my life.”

After losing to Kerber a year ago, then to Naomi Osaka in a stormy U.S. Open final, Williams, 37, hoped it would be third time lucky to finally move level with Australian Margaret Court on the all-time list of Grand Slam title collectors.

Despite having only five tournaments under her belt this year, Williams, who won her first Wimbledon title in 2002, had looked calm and composed en route to her 11th Wimbledon final.

If she thought she could put down an early marker she was mistaken as three unforced errors in the opening game handed Halep an unexpected gift of an early break.

Halep grew in stature and could not miss. Williams, on the other hand, looked tight and lacked feel.

There was strong support for Williams, including of the royal variety with friend Meghan Markle joining the Duchess of Cambridge in a crammed Royal Box.

But it was Halep who wowed the fans, haring across the turf to whip a superb backhand on her way to a second break which she sealed with a flashing backhand return winner.

Williams served 45 aces en route to the final but it was Halep who served the first one on Saturday to move 4-0 ahead.

It was 13 minutes before Williams even got the scoreboard ticking. “Wake up Serena” someone yelled as Halep served for the first set at 5-2. It fell on deaf ears as a shanked forehand return ended the set after 26 minutes.

Halep knew there would be a backlash and Williams raised the decibel level at the start of the second set, bent double, fists clenched and bellowing after a volleyed winner.

Williams led 2-1 but Halep’s scampering was making her play an extra shot in every rally, many of which were wild ones.

At 2-2 Halep scooped up a ball she had no right to reach and Williams lurched forward to blaze a backhand long.

The end came quickly. Halep broke again for 5-2 and showed no nerves as she calmly held to claim the title Williams craved.

Sun doping case needs more 'clarity', says Australia coach

Australia’s head swimming coach has questioned a panel decision to clear Sun Yang of wrongdoing in refusing a doping test and urged anti-doping authorities to provide more transparency over the Chinese swimmer’s case.

A FINA Doping Panel cleared triple Olympic champion Sun of breaching the governing body’s rules in January but the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is seeking to overturn the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“A case like this surely doesn’t help the reliability and trust in this system,” Jacco Verhaeren said in comments published by Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper on Sunday.

“I think WADA, FINA, IOC, all these parties really need to work hard together to provide more clarity, more transparency.”

Verhaeren’s comments come as Sun prepares to extend his haul of nine world titles in Gwangju, South Korea. The swimming events at the world championships start next Sunday.

Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper reported in January that world record holder Sun had been involved in a dispute with doping testers last September, resulting in damage to a blood sample.

The Chinese Swimming Association rejected the allegations in a statement in January.

On Sunday, the Daily Telegraph posted a 59-page report by the FINA Doping Panel following a hearing at which Sun admitted to refusing to comply with an out-of-competition test because of his doubts over testers’ accreditation.

The report said the testers had taken blood samples from Sun while at the clubhouse of his residence compound but the swimmer and his entourage then refused to let them depart with the samples during a tense stand-off.

Sun’s mother Ming Yang had a security guard at the residence compound get a hammer to smash open a container containing one of the blood samples.

“The DCO (Doping Control Officer) was horrified,” the report said, citing the tester’s witness statement.

“She went outside the clubhouse and discovered that the athlete and a guard had broken one of the secure sample containers with a hammer.”

Although describing Sun’s behaviour as “a huge and foolish gamble”, the Doping Panel agreed with his contention that the testers had not produced sufficient accreditation and that he had grounds to refuse the test.

“The Doping Panel is satisfied that the Athlete was not properly notified by the DCO,” the report said.

The Chinese Swimming Association was not available to comment on the Daily Telegraph report.

Sun, who has claimed world and Olympic titles at freestyle distances from 200 to 1,500 metres, served a three-month suspension for testing positive to a banned substance in 2014. The athlete said he was taking medication for a heart condition.

The sanction was not revealed until months after its expiry.

Top international swimmers have expressed dismay over Sun’s recent reprieve, including Olympic 100m breaststroke champion Adam Peaty.

“I don’t want to see this guy competing at the World Championships or Olympics against my team mates who work extremely hard to get there,” the Briton wrote on Twitter in March.

“Pretty sure neither does anybody else.”

Barcelona get Griezmann but Atletico contest 120 million euro fee

Barcelona announced the signing of Antoine Griezmann on Friday for 120 million euros ($135 million), sparking a furious reaction from Atletico Madrid over the amount the La Liga champions paid for the World Cup winner.

In a statement, Barca revealed that they had paid the 120 million euros to activate the Frenchman's release clause, adding that he would sign a five-year deal that included a "buyout clause of 800 million euros".

However, within minutes Atletico said they believed "the amount paid is insufficient to meet the release clause as it is obvious that the agreement between the player and Barcelona had been concluded before the release clause dropped from 200 million euros to 120 million euros" at the start of the month.

They said that Griezmann had gone to the headquarters of Spanish Football League (LFP) to "unilaterally" break his contract after Barca met the release clause, and added that they had already "begun appropriate procedures" to defend their "rights and legitimate interests".

The announcement was the latest episode in a spat between the two clubs and Griezmann after the 28-year-old failed to show up for Atletico's pre-season gathering on Sunday following his announcement in May that he would be leaving for an unnamed destination -- long-suspected to be Barcelona.

Last week Atletico accused Barcelona and Griezmann of a "lack of respect" after Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed the two clubs had held talks about the former Real Sociedad forward.

- Replacement already signed -

Atletico then claimed that Griezmann had told the club that he had struck a deal with Barcelona in March, just days before the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Juventus, which saw them dumped out by a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick after winning the first leg 2-0 in Madrid.

Griezmann joined Atletico in 2014 and has scored 133 goals in 257 appearances, lifting the Europa League in 2018.

He won the Golden Boot at Euro 2016 when France were beaten in the final on home soil by Portugal before helping to guide his country to World Cup glory in Russia last year.

The sale of Griezmann comes after Atletico stumped up a whopping 126 million euros to sign rising star Joao Felix from Benfica last week, making the 19-year-old one of the five most expensive players in history.

The fee was a record paid by the capital club and the highest ever received by a Portuguese outfit, and the sale of Griezmann helps finance such a huge transfer for a young player.

Felix burst onto the scene last season, scoring 20 times and making 11 assists in all competitions for Benfica as they won the Primeira Liga and reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

On Friday Atletico also unveiled Felix's former Benfica teammate Ivan Saponjic. The 20-year-old Serbian forward has signed a three-year deal with the Spanish club.

Slovak Sagan claims fifth stage of Tour

Peter Sagan burst into life on the Tour de France when he claimed the fifth stage at the end of a 175.5-km bumpy ride from St Die des Vosges on Wednesday.

The three-times world champion beat Belgian Wout van Aert and Italian Matteo Trentin in a sprint finish to strengthen his grip on the points classification as he looks to secure a record-breaking seventh green jersey.

“This victory is well deserved for the whole team, they worked very hard all day to control the stage, I want to thank all my team mates tonight,” said the Bora-Hansgrohe rider, who had a below-average Spring classics season.

“I started my sprint in the right moment. Now I have to keep going.”

Sagan, who now has 12 Tour stage victories to his name, has 144 points in the points classification with Australian Michael Matthews in second place on 97.

France’s Julian Alaphilippe retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey after his Deceuninck-Quick Step team helped Bora-Hansgrohe control the pace of the bunch to stay in touch with four breakaway riders.

Among them was Belgian Tim Wellens, who used the four categorised climbs to extend his lead in the mountains classification.

‘We controlled and I stayed alert in the finale,” said Alaphilippe after a ride through the Alsace wineyards.

The overall contenders had a quiet day in the peloton ahead of Thursday’s sixth stage, a 160.5km ride from Mulhouse ending at the top of La Planche des Belles Filles.

The final climb is a 7-km effort at an average gradient of 8.7% and Alaphilippe might struggle to keep his yellow jersey as the usual suspects will start their battle for the general classification.

Alaphilippe leads Van Aert, who picked up a six-second bonus by finishing second, by 14 seconds with Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk, the biggest threat to the Frenchman, in third place and 25 seconds off the pace.

Silverstone to host British GP until at least 2024

Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton’s home British Grand Prix will stay at Silverstone for at least the next five years under a new deal announced on Wednesday.

The race’s future had been in doubt since 2017, when a break clause was activated to terminate the contract after this weekend’s grand prix.

Circuit owners the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) had argued that the previous contract negotiated with former supremo Bernie Ecclestone was no longer financially viable due to escalating fees.

Formula One said in a statement the new deal ensured the circuit, which hosted the first world championship grand prix in 1950, would remain on the calendar until at least the end of 2024.

“We have always said that, if it is to have a long-term future, our sport must preserve its historic venues and Silverstone and Great Britain represent the cradle of this sport,” said Formula One chairman Chase Carey.

“Formula One is a global sport, held on five continents, watched by an audience of over 500 million fans around the world and our aim is to grow this number by bringing the sport we love to new countries, while also maintaining its roots,” he added.

“Silverstone and the British Grand Prix are an integral part of that vision.”

No financial details were immediately available.

BIG BOOST

Britain and Italy are the only two countries that have always featured on the Formula One calendar since the debut championship.

A new contract will be a big boost to British motor racing, with seven of the 10 F1 teams based in the country and the motorsport industry providing tens of thousands of jobs.

Mercedes’ five times world champion Hamilton has won five times at Silverstone and last year’s race at the former World War Two airfield was the best attended of any grand prix with a 140,500 crowd on race day.

“This deal has met all of the tests that we set ourselves at the beginning of this exercise,” Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle told Reuters when asked how the new contract differed from the old one.

He added that it was now financially viable.

“It will be different, this deal, because it places an emphasis on both parties working in a far more collaborative fashion to try and develop the British Grand Prix to our mutual benefit,” he added.

Pringle stressed, however, that it would be misleading to suggest there was any sharing of the risk with Formula One management. “We’re still absolutely on the hook,” he said.

Pringle said last month that contract negotiations had been complicated by Formula One’s desire to also hold a street race in London, but he sounded more relaxed on Wednesday.

“We have had our concerns satisfactorily addressed in this agreement,” he said.

The deal switches the focus to Spain, Germany and Mexico — all races without contracts for 2020 and at risk of dropping off the calendar.

Italy has also yet to confirm a new deal, although there is an agreement in principle, but the race at Monza is expected to continue given the history surrounding it.

A street race in Vietnam and a Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort are due to debut next year on what is set to remain a 21-race championship.

Federer overcomes shaky start to join Grand Slam 100 club

Roger Federer chalked up another monumental milestone to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals on Wednesday, recovering to beat Japan’s Kei Nishikori in four sets and become the first man to record a century of singles wins at any Grand Slam.

Federer, who won 4-6 6-1 6-4 6-4 and now faces Rafa Nadal in a mouthwatering contest, was so poor in the first set that the eighth-seeded Nishikori may have felt the 37-year-old Swiss’s advancing years had finally caught up with him.

Yet the remainder of the match had just enough flourishes of pure brilliance from the eight times champion and number two seed to make it a worthy occasion for the Swiss to become the sole male member of the Grand Slam 100 club.

Federer’s victory ensured Wimbledon will play host to one of the sport’s greatest rivalries, after Nadal also overcame big-serving American Sam Querrey in straight sets to tee up a semi-final clash between the two old foes.

The duo have not met at the All England Club since their titanic tussle in the 2008 final, when Nadal outlasted Federer over five thrilling sets that finished late in the evening gloom.

The two most successful proponents of the men’s game have gone toe-to-toe on 39 occasions, with Nadal winning for the 24th time in their French Open semi-final last month.

To put Federer’s achievements at Wimbledon into perspective, Nadal’s straight sets victory at Roland Garros was his 92nd on Paris’s red clay and while a 93rd and 12th singles title duly followed, he is still short of Federer’s Wimbledon tonne.

“It’s special,” said the Swiss of his latest numerical feat. “If I look back at the hundred, some were so incredibly cool.”

PIERCING FOCUS

There was a brief time on Wednesday, however, when it looked like Nishikori may play party pooper.

Federer’s poor start was seemingly not down to any devilish play or beguiling gameplan from Nishikori, but rather the result of a dramatic drop in standards by the number two seed.

His timing was off, the usual sweet sound of ball-on-racket that is almost unique to the great Swiss was absent, replaced by a duller thud as shots repeatedly flew off target.

The crowd sat dumbfounded as Nishikori despatched a delicate volley to break in the opening game and watched on bemused as the Japanese created another three break points in the third game and one more in the fifth.

In winning that opening set, Nishikori, one of tennis’s most attractive shotmakers, carved out as many break points on the Federer serve as the Swiss had faced in his previous two matches.

“Even if I’m down a set or down a break, no hurry there. I stay calm,” said Federer, whose ability to stay ice cool under pressure seemed to be the only part of his game still functioning in the first set.

Yet when you have spent the best part of two decades weaving magic spells on Centre Court, you know how to pull a rabbit out of the hat when you most need it.

In the blink of an eye, the impostor who had seemingly replaced Federer in the early games was nowhere to be seen as the real deal strode out for the second set and promptly won 12 points in a row to take a 3-0 lead.

The ragged, leggy lethargy of the Swiss’s early play had lifted and in its place a piercing focus carried Federer to the second set in 22 minutes.

Nishikori kept the match alive as a contest, but was constantly battling to defend his serve and one running backhand by the Swiss was delivered with such devastating venom that the Japanese could only bow his head in appreciation.

Federer delivered the decisive blows against the Nishikori serve in the seventh game of the third set and ninth game of the fourth, before the contest was ended after two hours and 36 minutes when the Swiss fired down a 12th ace.

Quiet man Pinot ready to make his presence felt on the Tour

Thibaut Pinot’s love-hate relationship with the Tour de France will face a big test on Thursday when the overall contenders take on their first hilltop finish at the top of La Planche des Belles Filles — the Frenchman’s back yard.

The Tour has always been a complicated affair for the Groupama-FDJ climber, who burst into the limelight in 2012 by winning a mountain stage in Porrentruy.

It was too much, too soon for the then 22-year-old, who crumbled under pressure the following year.

A quiet man who lives among farm animals and loves fishing in the quiet Eastern town of Melisey - population 1,680 - of which his father Regis is the mayor, Pinot openly despises the extravaganza of the Tour, its procession of TV helicopters and thousands of followers.

But he races in a French team and the Tour is a required passage.

In 2014, he managed to finish third overall before snatching a prestigious stage win at L’Alpe d’Huez in 2015 at the end of a disappointing overall showing.

He abandoned in 2016 and 2017, the year he took fourth place overall in the Giro d’Italia, which prompted his team to finally allow him to put all his eggs in the Italian basket in 2018.

DIFFERENT MINDSET

With a podium finish in sight on the Giro last year, Pinot had to pull out before the final stage as he suffered from pneumonia.

An impressive climber who took another dimension when he won the ‘Monument’ classic Giro di Lombardia last year, Pinot’s health is fragile.

This year, however, he is on the Tour on his own free will. A strong team time trial and a handful of seconds snatched from most of the overall contenders have put him in an ideal position ahead of Thursday’s finish at La Planche des Belles Filles after a 7-km climb at an average gradient of 8.7%.

“We’re not here to test ourselves, we’re here to win. The tests, it was before the Tour,” his sports director Philippe Mauduit told Reuters.

“This year he really wanted to be here. When you want to do things right, you come with a different mindset.”

Pinot has been more relaxed this year, and on the back of strong showings all season the 29-year-old has more self-confidence.

He will have a chance to shine on Thursday on a climb he knows inside out.

VERY STRONG

“We live about 15 kilometres from La Planche des Belles Filles. It’s a climb we’ve done since we were young and Thibaut knows every metre of it,” his brother and coach Julien said.

“Thibaut climbed it first when he was 15-17 years old.”

Pinot took 15th place there on the Tour in 2012 and finished second behind Vincenzo Nibali in 2014.

His rivals have already singled him out as one of the top favourites for the win on Thursday, and also for the overall victory in Paris.

“He and his team are impressive, they rode a super team time trial. He’s a real contender for the overall win,” said defending champion Geraint Thomas’s sports director Nicolas Portal.

“He looks very strong and he will have special motivation tomorrow.”

Two-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador told Reuters: “He looks very fit. He will grab his opportunities. There are many things that show it could be his year.”

Pinot trails overall leader and fellow Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe by 52 seconds, 12 behind top favourite Egan Bernal of Colombia and seven behind Thomas.

Since the first time a Tour stage ended up at La Planche des Belles Filles in 2012, the rider in yellow after the stage ended up winning the race — Bradley Wiggins in 2012, Nibali in 2014 and Chris Froome in 2017.

'Big Three' in ominous form as Wimbledon moves into second week

The ‘Big Three’ of Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic head into the second week of Wimbledon carrying the flag for the men’s game after a number of young upstarts failed to live up to their potential on the grandest stage.

The trio, with 14 Wimbledon titles between them, have been in blistering form while players such as Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas — younger men touted to end their hegemony at the majors — went out with a whimper.

Having dropped only one set each in their three rounds so far, the trio seem a safe bet to advance when they face fourth-round rivals who have never before made it to this stage at the All England Club.

Defending champion Djokovic, who endured a hurricane against Hubert Hurkacz before winning in four sets, takes on Frenchman Ugo Humbert for the first time in his career.

“I’ve seen him in Roland Garros. I’ve seen him last year (at the) U.S. Open... big serve, very explosive, very dynamic player,” said Djokovic, who is seeking a fifth Wimbledon title.

“He’s tall, has a big game from the back of the court, flat backhand, very solid. He can play anything really, he’s an all-around player.”

Eight-times winner Federer, who sealed his 350th Grand Slam match win when he dispatched France’s Lucas Pouille on Saturday, has barely been tested so far barring his opening clash against Lloyd Harris where the Swiss rallied from a set down to win.

The 37-year-old meets 17th seed Matteo Berrettini who has claimed two titles this season, including one on grass in Stuttgart, and Federer expects a tough challenge.

“I don’t know him well so that makes it a bit more tricky,” Federer, who warmed up for the tournament with his 10th Halle Open title, said.

“I saw him play in Halle, saw his run in Stuttgart. Now he’s backing it up here. That’s not easy, especially when you’re newer on the tour.”

Third seed Nadal, who has repeatedly expressed his displeasure about the seedings and draw, is the only one among the three who would face unseeded players until the semi-finals, where he could take on Federer.

The Spaniard, who faced his biggest test so far against mercurial Australian Nick Kyrgios, is up against a familiar rival in Portugal’s Joao Sousa.

“We know each other very well, practised plenty of times together. He’s a player that when he’s winning matches, he’s a super dangerous opponent against everybody,” Nadal said.

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