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Novak Djokovic grinds out a victory over wild card Jacob Fearnley at Wimbledon

LONDON — Novak Djokovic says he wouldn’t have been surprised if his second-round match against young Jacob Fearnley at Wimbledon went to a fifth set, but he’s “very glad it didn’t.”

The seven-time champion at the All England Club beat his 22-year-old Scottish opponent 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 on Centre Court on Thursday in another test of his fitness following recent knee surgery.

“Can I be playing better and moving better? Yes, absolutely,” Djokovic said in an on-court interview. “So I’m hoping that as the tournament progresses each day or each match I’ll be feeling a bit better.”

Fearnley, a wild-card entry who recently finished playing college tennis at TCU, had a strong cheering section that erupted when he took the third set.

“He served very well, it was very difficult to break his serve. He made me work, definitely,” said Djokovic, who will face Alexei Popyrin in the third round.

The 24-time Grand Slam champion said he should have closed it out in straight sets but that he “was not really comfortable in my own skin, particularly in the third and fourth.

“Sometimes you have rough days where maybe you are not feeling your best,” he added, “and of course it also depends on the opponent across the net. He made me earn this victory.”

It was a big day for Britain on and off the court — with the U.K. holding a national election and several locals in the spotlight.

“It’s a great day for British tennis, and there’s no better place to do it than at home at Wimbledon,” Fearnley said. “Yeah, it’s an unbelievable tournament, unbelievable crowd.”

It got off to a rough start when wild-card entry Yuriko Lily Miyazaki won only 19 points en route to a 6-0, 6-0 loss to Daria Kasatkina.

The 28-year-old Miyazaki committed 31 unforced errors and five double-faults in falling to the No. 14-seeded Kasatkina, a Russian who won the Eastbourne title ahead of the grass-court Grand Slam.

Harriet Dart came back to beat compatriot Katie Boulter, the No. 32 seed who is Britain’s highest-ranked women’s singles player, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (10-8). Dart trailed 6-2 in the deciding tiebreaker. Boulter compiled 75 unforced errors and 39 winners.

Later on Centre Court, Andy Murray was set to play doubles with his brother, Jamie. The two-time Wimbledon champion pulled out of the singles competition.

Top-seeded Iga Swiatek extended her winning streak to 21 matches with her 6-4, 6-3 victory over Petra Martic.

No. 5 Jessica Pegula become the highest-seeded women’s player to lose. The American was defeated by Wang Xinyu 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-1. For Wang, it was her first victory over a top-10 player.

Two-time Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka was the No. 3 seed at Wimbledon before she pulled out before the first round because of a shoulder injury.

Kasatkina will next face Paula Badosa, who advanced Thursday by beating Brenda Fruhvirtova 6-4, 6-2.

Ons Jabeur, the No. 10 seed who reached the past two Wimbledon finals, eliminated 19-year-old American Robin Montgomery 6-1, 7-5.

A handful of other Americans advanced, though, on U.S. Independence Day.

No. 11 Danielle Collins beat Dalma Galfi 6-3, 6-4, No. 12 Madison Keys topped Wang Yafan 6-2, 6-2, and Bernarda Pera came back to beat No. 23 Caroline Garcia 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

“I’ve always really loved playing during the Fourth of July. I think I’ve spent more Fourths of Julys in London than anywhere else in the world,” the 29-year-old Keys said. “It’s always fun, and it’s definitely an experience. Like today walking by I saw a bunch of Americans, and they all said, ‘Happy Fourth.’”

No. 14 Ben Shelton outlasted Lloyd Harris of South Africa 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-6 (10-7). Arthur Fils also advanced to the third round when No. 7 Hubert Hurkacz retired in the fourth set because of a leg injury. They were in a fourth-set tiebreaker after Fils won the first two sets and Hurkacz took the third.

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AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis

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