Wimbledon recap day 3: Emma Navarro beats Osaka, comebacks, and Coco Gauff's serve

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Welcome to the Wimbledon briefing, where The Athletic will explain the stories behind the stories on each day of the tournament.

On day three of Wimbledon 2024, American players made hay, the shortest shorts in tennis pulled off a comeback for the ages, and Coco Gauff set a serve target.

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Emma Navarro puts herself on the tennis radar?

Emma Navarro has been this year’s definition of under the radar, quietly climbing the rankings the past year from near triple digits to No. 17.

Those days are likely over. It’s hard to stay under the radar when you beat a four-time Grand Slam champion on Centre Court, which is what Navarro did Wednesday, knocking off Naomi Osaka 6-4, 6-1.

Navarro’s game wouldn’t figure to translate so well onto grass. At this point in her young career — she’s 23 but just three years removed from winning the NCAA Championship — she’s basically an aggressive baseline player. But hearing Navarro talk makes you realize that grass-court tennis is as much a state of mind as it is a technical test.

“It’s a different game, kind of,” she said. “You have to play more creative tennis and I like that. I like how much of a difference getting one more ball back in the court makes. Maybe it’s not the same on other surfaces but if you can dig out an extra ball or two, it makes a huge difference.”

Navarro has Diana Shnaider of Russia next. They would not figure to have much in common, except Atlantic Coast Conference tennis. Shnaider, 20, spent a semester at North Carolina State last year before turning professional.

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Navarro made just five unforced errors in cruising through Osaka (Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

Matt Futterman

Tomas Machac and a tournament of five-set comebacks

Another day, another couple of comebacks from two sets to love down. The tally for the tournament is now at eight — smashing last year’s total of four after just three days.

On Wednesday, it was Tomas Machac and Thanasi Kokkinakis who delivered the dramatic comebacks.

Starting with Machac’s win against David Goffin, this really was a stupendous turnaround. Machac, who was originally scheduled to play Andy Murray, was 0-5 down in the decider but rallied to defeat the lucky loser and former world No. 7 in a final set tie-break. In a undulating match that saw both players record nine breaks of serve, Machac prevailed 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6.

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Machac produced the most remarkable comeback of this year’s Championships (Clive Brunskill / Getty Images)

Kokkinakis didn’t trail by such a big margin but he faced four match points in the third set before coming back to win from two sets down for the second time this year, and the fourth time in his career. Of the six matches Kokkinakis has played at the Grand Slams this year, five have gone the distance, including the last four in a row.

As for why there’s been such a rash of comeback wins, perhaps players have been inspired by seeing others doing it. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. And although he was revelling in his victory, Kokkinakis said he’d prefer not to have another one of these. There are quite a few players in the draw who would likely agree — they would rather save themselves the stress.

Charlie Eccleshare

Can Coco Gauff hit her serve speed target?

Coco Gauff is setting the pace in the women’s draw when it comes to results — and when it comes to serve speed. Gauff, the No. 2 seed, hit 124mph on the radar gun in the first round and was pelting balls throughout her second-round 6-2, 6-1 win over Romanian qualifier Anca Todoni on Wednesday.

She is averaging 111mph on her first serve and 87 on her second, and she has hit a 109mph second serve to boot.

She thinks she can go faster. She’s hit 128, she said, and she thinks she might have 130 in her arm, and don’t think she isn’t paying attention — strategically.

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Gauff has been working with coach Brad Gilbert to make her serve more consistent — speed has never been an issue. (Clive Brunskill / Getty Images)

“I do check the serve speed sometimes in the match because I try to make sure I go for it,” she said. “There are times where I’ll check. Even if I miss and the serve is like 119 or 118 and up, I’m like ‘okay, that’s good’. I hate to miss when it’s slower.”

She wants 130. If she was taller than 5ft 9in, she thinks it would be more likely. Would it go in? She’s not so sure about that.

Matt Futterman

Daniil Medvedev’s Court One record and Centre sit-down

One of the quirkiest players on the tour, fifth seed Daniil Medvedev was at it again on Wednesday. Trailing Alexandre Muller 6-3 in the first set tie-break, a disgusted Medvedev sat down at his chair thinking he’d lost the set. Only when he was repeatedly urged by the umpire to get back and play did Medvedev realise he was actually set point down and it wasn’t done yet. He promptly lost the set anyway. 

“I went a little crazy,” Medvedev said afterwards. “I thought the set was gone. I heard referee talking to me. You know, sometimes when you’re getting crazy, like, ‘calm down or something’. At one moment, I start hearing, ‘Daniil, it’s 6-3, 6-3’. I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’. Then I see the score.”

Maybe Medvedev was discombobulated by being on Centre Court rather than Court one, which has become a bit of a fortress for him. On Court One, Medvedev is on an eight-match winning streak, the longest current run by an individual player on a single court. Carlos Alcaraz is next, with a seven-match streak on Centre. Just the 38 away from beating Novak Djokovic’s record. 

As for Medvedev, he recovered from — in his mind — losing the first set twice to win in four sets.

Charlie Eccleshare

Shot of the day

No-one expects the behind-the-player-behind-the-back-half-volley-drop-shot-pick-up.

Wimbledon men’s draw 2024

Wimbledon women’s draw 2024

Tell us what you noticed on the third day as things continue…

(Top photo: Emma Navarro: Henry Nicholls/Getty Images; Design: Eamonn Dalton for The Athletic)

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