Tennis: Relieved Nadal avoids top seed Djokovic in Wimbledon semis but is set for early Kyrgios clash

LONDON (AFP) – Rafael Nadal breathed a sigh of relief on Friday (June 28) after he was slated to meet eight-time champion Roger Federer in the Wimbledon semi-finals.

The Spaniard’s fears that he would be drawn in top-seeded favourite and defending champion Novak Djokovic’s half of the draw – and face him in the semis – proved unfounded despite Wimbledon promoting the Swiss legend above him in the seedings.

Nadal, who comes in on the back of his 18th Grand Slam singles title after winning a 12th French Open which included beating Federer in the semi-finals, will do well to reach the last four as he has a tough-looking draw.

He should have little trouble with his first-round opponent, Yuichi Sugita of Japan, but after that things become more perilous.

Moody but talented Australian Nick Kyrgios is a potential second-round opponent and highly rated Canadian youngster Denis Shapovalov could await in the third round.

If he emerges from those tussles, he could face Croatia’s 2017 Wimbledon singles finalist Marin Cilic in the last 16.

Nadal, seeded third behind Federer, had complained earlier this week that Wimbledon’s unique formula for seeding that combines ranking points with form in grass-court competitions was disrespectful.

World No. 1 Djokovic will in theory face South African fourth seed and last year’s beaten finalist Kevin Anderson – who was promoted from eighth in the world – in the last four.

His great rivals Djokovic and Federer begin their campaigns against 35-year-old German Philipp Kohlschreiber and Lloyd Harris of South Africa respectively.

Kohlschreiber beat Djokovic earlier this year in the third round at Indian Wells.

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