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Nadal fights back on a rainy day at Wimbledon


LONDON (AP) — Rain played havoc with Saturday’s schedule at Wimbledon everywhere except under the closed roof on Centre Court, where Rafael Nadal recovered from a slow start against a player from Kazakhstan who hadn’t won a match at the All England Club until this week.

As he had the first two rounds, the second-seeded Nadal lost the opening set – this time in a tiebreaker. But he broke the 63rd-ranked Mikhail Kukushkin’s serve for the first time early in the second set en route to taking 11 of 12 games and winning that set and the third, too.

Rain first delayed the start of play on the outside courts for nearly two hours. Once play began, including top-seeded Serena Williams against Alize Cornet of France on Court 1, there was only about 15 minutes of action before rain began falling again and the tarps were pulled over the grass.

Organizers postponed more than 20 doubles and junior matches, but said there was a chance the weather would improve later in the day.

Sunday is a scheduled off-day at Wimbledon, the only Grand Slam tournament that takes a break midway through.

Later third-round matches Saturday guaranteed to be played on Centre Court – the only arena at the All England Club with a retractable roof – were 2004 champion Maria Sharapova against Alison Riske of the United States, and seven-time champion Roger Federer against Santiago Giraldo of Colombia.

Kukushkin, who lost in the first round in both his previous appearances at Wimbledon, started his match against two-time champion Nadal by belting the ball all around the court, and had 17 winners in the first set to Nadal’s 11.

With Kukushkin holding three set points at 6-3 in the tiebreaker, Nadal got one back with his second ace of the tiebreaker. But Kukushkin took the first set when Nadal’s backhand floated long.

Nadal won more total points in the first set, 43-41, but still found himself down early in the match.