Wimbledon Rewind: Nadal Stunned, Kvitova Survives, Federer Shines, Sharapova Battles
This article marks the first in a daily series of articles reviewing the action at Wimbledon. They follow the same general format as a similar series on Roland Garros. If you missed some of the action, or want a general overview, check out this written equivalent of a highlight reel.
Match of the day: Banished to the distant precincts of Court 19, Lukas Rosol still produced another thriller. After five sets and two tiebreaks, Julian Reister slew the Czech giant killer in a blow to the tournament’s first-week intrigue. Fans with grounds passes got their money’s worth, though, perhaps more so than those on the show courts did.
Upset of the day: One year after Rosol stunned him in the first week, Rafael Nadal succumbed to an even lowlier opponent in Steve Darcis. The Belgian dropped serve just twice in three sets as the former Wimbledon champion slipped too easily into passive play. Nadal did not lack chances to turn the match around in the second set, serving for the set at 6-5 and later holding a set point in the tiebreak. He loses before the final for the first time in ten tournaments this year.
Comeback of the day: Down a set early to Fabio Fognini, former Wimbledon doubles champion Jurgen Melzer clawed back to win the next three from his seeded opponent. The veteran’s lefty serve could shine on grass, but he has not left an impact on a major in three years.
Gold star: The first round of Wimbledon has not always witnessed Roger Federer’s best tennis (see Falla, 2010). This year, however, the defending champion opened the action on Centre Court by yielding just five games to Victor Hanescu. With Nadal out of the draw, Federer’s hopes of a record-breaking eighth Wimbledon title soar significantly.
Silver star: A champion here eleven long years ago, Lleyton Hewitt looked every inch the part in dismantling the 11th-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka. The Aussie had reached the semifinals at Queen’s Club two weeks ago, defeating Del Potro en route, and grass remains his most dangerous surface. He might well reach the second week or better in the section vacated by Nadal.
Wooden spoon: Remember when Janko Tipsarevic held a top-eight seed at the US Open last fall? His stock has fallen sharply during a season-long slump in 2013. Now the 14th seed at Wimbledon, Tipsarevic fell to compatriot Viktor Troicki in straight sets to continue that spiral.
Americans in London: While doubles specialist Rajeev Ram advanced in four sets, John Isner avenged an Eastbourne loss last week to Evgeny Donskoy. Notoriously fond of marathons in early rounds, Isner advanced more efficiently this time.
Question of the day: With Nadal gone, does Federer or Murray become the favorite to reach the final from the lower half of the men’s draw?
Match of the day: When Petra Kvitova dropped a 6-1 first set on Coco Vandeweghe, the 2011 champion probably expected to cruise easily into the second round. Little has come easily for Kvitova since she won here two years ago, though, and she quickly found herself embroiled in a dogfight with her fellow heavy server. Vandeweghe eked out a tight second set and pressed Kvitova deep into the third before the favorite prevailed. The route does not get any easier for the former champion from here.
Upset of the day: At least world No. 5 Sara Errani did not fail to win a point in a set, as she had at Wimbledon last year to Yaroslava Shvedova. Never a threat on grass, Errani won just five games from Puerto Rican rising star Monica Puig in one of the quietest upsets of a top-five player that you’ll see. She now has lost in the first round at consecutive non-clay majors.
Comeback of the day: On her least effective surface, Alize Cornet dropped the first set to former Wimbledon doubles champion Vania King. Not known for her fortitude, Cornet easily could have folded from there. Instead, she lost just four games over the next two sets to stay on track for a third-round rematch of her Roland Garros tilt with Victoria Azarenka.
Gold star: Handed a formidable first-round opponent in Kristina Mladenovic, Maria Sharapova clung fiercely to her serve throughout a first set that featured only a single break point. The going got slightly easier in the second set, and it should get easier for her in the next few rounds.
Silver star: To the surprise of some, Wimbledon issued a wildcard to Andrea Petkovic just weeks after she lost in Roland Garros qualifying. The charismatic German had contemplated retirement in the wake of that setback, but she continued an encouraging recent trend by justifying the wildcard with a straight-sets victory.
Marathon of the day: All four Serbs in action advanced, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic with ease. Vesna Dolonc battled back from losing the first set to topple Yanina Wickmayer, but Bojana Jovanovski surpassed all of her countrywomen in the drama department. The fiery youngster who reached the second week of the Australian Open needed a 16-game final set to halt Ajla Tomljanovic, a once-promising talent derailed by mononucleosis. The historic rivalry between Serbia and Tomljanovic’s native Croatia added an entertaining dimension to the thriller.
Americans in London: The highest-ranked American here not named Williams, Sloane Stephens opened impressively by defeating Eastbourne finalist Jamie Hampton. In general, though, this group fell far short of their Paris success while posting a dismal 2-7 record on Day 1. Both of the victories came against fellow Americans, Christina McHale joining Stephens in the second round with a win over Alexa Glatch. The 26th-seeded Varvara Lepchenko fell to the unheralded Eva Birnerova.
Question of the day: Early in the second set of her opening match, world No. 2 Victoria Azarenka fell awkwardly on the slick grass. Although she managed to regroup for a comfortable victory, Azarenka said that she will undergo tests on the leg to assess its condition. How serious will this apparent injury prove?