Nishikori batles back to beat Benneteau

Japan’s Kei Nishikori survived an early scare before he dispatched buccaneering Frenchman Julien Benneteau 4-6 6-4 6-4 6-2 in the Wimbledon second round on Thursday.

The Centre Court crowd scented an upset when Benneteau came out all guns blazing, catching the Japanese fifth seed cold with a succession of blistering groundstrokes and artful drop shots.

But after losing the first set, Nishikori – wearing strapping to protect a rib injury – gradually found his range and asserted his authority, pushing Benneteau back with relentlessly accurate drives on both wings.

With the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke of Kent watching from the Royal Box, the 26-year-old produced a suitably aristocratic performance to book his place in the third round.

Benneteau, 34, might be encouraged by the fact he stretched one of the game’s elite players in the early stages. He has sought to revive his career after a hernia injury and surgery ruled him out for much of last season and his ranking plunged from 25 to 547.

Milos Raonic equalled the fastest serve seen at Wimbledon this year as the sixth-seeded Canadian blasted past Italian Andreas Seppi 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-2 to reach the third round on Thursday.

Raonic, under the watchful gaze of three-times champion John McEnroe during the grasscourt season, tripped the speed gun at 142mph, equalling the delivery served down by Australian Sam Groth in round one.

The fastest serve ever recorded at the All England Club was hit at 148mph by American Taylor Dent six years ago.

Raonic will now take on American Jack Sock in the third round.

Britain’s Dan Evans delighted the home fans after dismantling 30th seed Alexandr Dolgopolov to reach the third round.

In a largely nerveless performance, Evans grabbed his share of the limelight on a raucous Court 2, downing the Ukrainian 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-1 by playing the key points better than his higher-ranked opponent.

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