Pella making a habit of beating runner-ups at Wimbledon

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Argentina’s Guido Pella celebrates after beating South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in a Men’s singles match during day five of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Friday, July 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Guido Pella is getting the hang of this upset-the-runner-up thing at Wimbledon.

The Argentine player eliminated 2018 finalist Kevin Anderson in the third round Friday, a year after beating 2017 finalist Marin Cilic in the second.

Fittingly, perhaps, another former Wimbledon runner-up will be waiting next. Pella on Monday will play Milos Raonic, who lost the 2016 final to Andy Murray.

Despite facing a player who has become known for lengthy five-setters at Wimbledon — Anderson came from two sets down to beat Roger Federer last year before beating John Isner in a 6½-hour semifinal — Pella made relatively short work of the South African.

Saving eight of the nine break points he faced, Pella won 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (4) to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.

Like Anderson, Pella has never faced Raonic before — which could work in his favor.

“It’s always a little tricky playing somebody for the first time,” Anderson said after the loss. “He made life really difficult for me, I felt. He moves really, really well. I felt I had a pretty hard time keeping him on defense, finishing out the points.”

With Anderson and No. 10 Karen Khachanov both losing, the upper half of the draw suddenly looks wide open for defending champion Novak Djokovic. The top-seeded Serb dropped a set for the first time this week but had a straightforward win regardless, beating Hubert Hurkacz 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4.

With No. 6 Alexander Zverev and No. 7 Stefanos Tsitsipas already out and No. 11 Daniil Medvedev losing Friday as well, there is no player ranked in the top 15 left for Djokovic to face before the final. Raonic, ranked 17th, is the only other player in that side of the draw who has reached a Grand Slam final.

Djokovic will next face unseeded Frenchman Ugo Humbert, who beat Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassimo.

“There were a lot of top seeds that went out in early rounds in Wimbledon. That’s why these kinds of tournaments are regarded as the most important events where you always come out with your best game,” Djokovic said. “The lower-ranked players, they find these tournaments as a great opportunity for them to highlight their strengths, to eventually get a scalp and win against a top player. That’s what happens.”

HAWK-EYE

Caroline Wozniacki felt like she was up against two opponents on No. 2 Court — Zhang Shuai and Hawk-Eye. She lost to both.

The former No. 1 from Denmark grew increasingly frustrated with the review system during her match against Zhang, insisting that it was incorrectly overturning decisions in her opponent’s favor.

“How are we playing with Hawk-Eye that is this bad? This is not fair,” Wozniacki told the chair umpire after a second call went against her, and argued that the replay system’s cameras had been set up incorrectly. “It’s crazy.”

Wozniacki was up 4-0 in the first set but lost 6-4, 6-2. Her argument with the chair umpire happened in the second set after Zhang challenged a decision that her shot was long, and Hawk-Eye ruled it was in. Her husband, former NBA player David Lee, even yelled from the player’s box that the shot had been out.

“Obviously when you think you’ve won the point and then have to replay, that can be frustrating,” Wozniacki said in her news conference. “I thought there was a few ones that I saw way differently. But it is what it is. You can’t really change a Hawk-Eye call. Maybe it was right. I just saw it differently.”

TOO MUCH COLOR

It was hats off to Novak Djokovic on No. 1 Court.

Or “for” Djokovic, rather.

The top-ranked Serb wasn’t allowed to wear his cap for the match against Hurkacz after the chair umpire ruled that its black lining violated Wimbledon’s strict rules for all-white clothing.

He was questioned about the very same hat in his previous match before being allowed to wear it, and was a bit perplexed about the decision.

“Last match … I was starting to unpack my hat. The chair umpire said he needs to check whether or not I’m able to play with it,” Djokovic said. “He got a confirmation that I’m able to play. So I got the permission. I played with the hat. The same hat I took out now, I was not able to play with it. That’s why I was just questioning that call. I mean, no one has approached me before the match to tell me, ‘Well, you can’t really play with the hat this match.’ That’s all.”

Despite the sunny weather and temperatures reaching 81 degrees F (27 degrees C), Djokovic didn’t seem to be too bothered by the wardrobe mishap.

“I just accepted it and dealt with it,” he said. “That’s it.”

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