It is timed for release as the anticipation crests with Roger as returning champion, 10 years after their famed 2008 Wimbledon championship - an epic match so close and so reflective of their competitive balance that, in the end, the true victor was the sport itself.
The second-seeded Nadal hadn't played a match since claiming his 11th French Open title last month but showed little sign of rust as he cruised to victory against Sela. I'm happy to be through. I went to the net quite often.
Djokovic was far too good for the 126-ranked Zeballos, taking just an hour and 31 minutes to win 6-1 6-2 6-3 on No.2 Court on Thursday.
Israeli Sela might be 127th in the world but since Nadal won the last of his two Wimbledon titles in 2010 four players with three-digit rankings have scythed him down on the grass. Of course, I will love to play on Queen's. But I felt I was in a position to fight for important things. And after a bumpy first half of the year, the Serb could be rounding into form.
Nadal had to fight off more break points but Kukushkin finally broke for a 3-1 lead as Nadal hooked a forehand wide after being taken out of his comfort zone - something Kukushkin did well throughout the match. First match at Wimbledon. The 20-year-old Tiafoe relied on a strong serve to win 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3 over the Spanish veteran and reach the second round for the second straight year. And Alexander Zverev was sharp in a 7-5, 6-2, 6-0 demolition over James Duckworth.
French Open runner-up and seventh seed Dominic Thiem retired with an injury from his Wimbledon first round match on Tuesday against Cypriot veteran Marcos Baghdatis.
The 36-year-old veteran Lopez is playing in a record 66th consecutive grand slam and moved one ahead of Swiss great Roger Federer, with whom he previously shared the best mark.
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