LONDON – There wasn’t much for Alison Riske to hang her hat on stepping onto Court 18 at Wimbledon Thursday.
Yes, Riske disposed of first-round opponent, and fellow American, Sloane Stephens quite impressively in her opening match.
The McMurray native also has a reputation for being a tough out on a grass surface.
It wasn’t so much about what Riske could or couldn’t do, rather about an unfavorable history with the No. 12 seed Kristina Mladenovic standing on the opposite end of the court.
Despite the first set looking like many between the two in the past – where Mladenovic is undefeated in their four previous meetings – Riske wouldn’t let history repeat itself this time around.
Gaining her composure and limiting unforced errors to nearly half the total of Mladenovic, Riske staged a comeback to upset her French counterpart, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, and advance to the third round at Wimbledon for the first time since 2014.
Despite only hitting 22 winners, Riske only had 20 errors and one double fault throughout the match that slightly exceeded two hours.
For a spot in the second week in London, which would be the longest stay at the tournament in her professional career, she will have to go through American CoCo Vandeweghe.
In Riske’s previous two attempts to advance past the round of 32, she lost in two sets to both Kaia Kanepi in 2013 and Maria Sharapova in 2014.
Unlike her past with Mladenovic before yesterday, Riske is undefeated in her two previous matchups with Vandeweghe.
It took Novak Djokovic all three sets this time.
The three-time champion advanced to the third round by beating Adam Pavlasek 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 Thursday, two days after his opening match ended early when his opponent retired with an injury.
Djokovic won the Wimbledon title in 2011, ‘14 and ‘15. But he has not won a major title since completing a career Grand Slam at the 2016 French Open.
In his opening two matches at the All England Club, Djokovic has only lost eight games.
“It’s perfect. Exactly what I want,” Djokovic said. “I don’t want to have any five-set matches in there.”
Djokovic will next face Ernests Gulbis. The unseeded Latvian defeated Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (3).
Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov, Gael Monfils and David Ferrer also reached the third round. Ferrer advanced when opponent Steve Darcis retired with an injury while trailing 3-0.
Darcis is the eighth man to retire during a match this week. The Belgian took a medical timeout after 18 minutes of play and was unable to continue.
One of the favorites in the women’s tournament, third-seeded Karolina Pliskova, lost on Centre Court. Magdalena Rybarikova beat Pliskova 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 to reach the third round for the second time in 10 appearances.
Pliskova entered the tournament with a chance to take over the No. 1 ranking.
Two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded seventh, advanced to the third round along with ninth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, 14th-seeded Garbine Muguruza and 24th-seeded Vandeweghe.
Also, American wild-card entry Bethanie Mattek-Sands injured her right knee during a point and retired from her second-round match.
Moving up toward the net in the opening game of the third set against Sorana Cirstea of Romania, Mattek-Sands slipped and fell. She immediately clutched her right knee. She could be heard screaming in pain and sobbing.
Two players previously eliminated from the tournament were handed fines on Thursday.
Bernard Tomic of Australia was fined $15,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct two days after he spoke about feeling “a little bit bored out there” during his match.
Daniil Medvedev of Russia, who threw a handful coins in the direction of the chair umpire after a second-round loss on Wednesday, was given three fines totaling $14,500.