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Novikov rallies, Serena cruises on Day 2 at Wimbledon

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 28: Dennis Novikov of the United States plays a backhand during the Men's Singles first round match against Luke Saville of Australia on day two of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 28, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
June 28, 2016 02:20 PM

By Ashley Marshall, USTA.com

Dennis Novikov continues to do things the hard way. But more importantly for his prospects on the grass of Wimbledon, he continues to find a way to win.

Novikov (pictured above) rallied to defeat fellow qualifier Luke Saville of Australia in the first round of The Championships, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4, on Court 9 Tuesday before rain stopped play around the grounds.

Ranked No. 145 in the world, Novikov punched his ticket to Round 2 of a major for just the second time in his career. He previously reached the round of 64 at the 2012 US Open but has failed to progress through qualifying in his next six Grand Slam events, including at Roland Garros in May and the Australian Open in January.

The 22-year-old American will now face Portugal’s Joao Sousa, the No. 31 seed at the All England Club, following Sousa’s five-set, three-hour win over Dimitry Tursunov.

Novikov can draw several positives from his past seven days in London, particularly when it comes to overcoming a deficit on the scoreboard. The 6-foot-4 right-hander came from a set down in each of his second- and third-round qualifying matches in southwest London last week, and he was forced to dig out of another early hole Tuesday in front of a substantially larger audience.

Novikov dropped serve at 3-3 in the opening set in what would turn out to be the decisive moment of the opening stanza, but he regrouped in the second by reeling off five of the final six games to level the match after being down a set and a break.

Novikov did not face a break point the rest of the way, capturing the fourth set by breaking world No. 221 Saville, who reached the second round of Wimbledon in 2014, at 5-6, and then booking his place in the second round by breaking the Australian again at 4-5 on his first match point.

Elsewhere on Day 2 at Wimbledon, Serena Williams began the defense of her crown with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Amra Sadikovic of Switzerland and Christina McHale defeated Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova, 7-5, 6-2. CoCo Vandeweghe toppled Kateryna Bondarenko, 6-2, 7-6(3), under the closed roof of Center Court in the final match of the day, and Alison Riske pushed sixth-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy all the way before falling in three sets.

On the men's side, 18-year-old Taylor Fritz fell in four competitive sets to the fourth seed and former French Open and Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka on Court No. 1, 7-6, 6-1, 6-7, 6-4, and Rajeev Ram lost to 22nd seed Feliciano Lopez.

Donald Young’s first-round match with Leonardo Mayer of Argentina was suspended with Young leading, 6-4, 0-2. And Julia Boserup was up a break over Germany’s Tatjana Maria, 4-3, when the covers were pulled across Court 9.