Wimbledon Rewind: Serena Stunned, Djokovic Dominant, Radwanska Resilient, Li Lethal, Ferrer Fierce on Manic Monday
Monday got manic in a hurry with a titanic upset in the women’s draw, only to settle down into more predictable outcomes for most of the day. Catch up on any of the fourth-round action that you may have missed with the daily Wimbledon rewind.
Match of the day: Twists and turns pervaded the clash of rising star Jerzy Janowicz and grizzled veteran Jurgen Melzer. In the intimate surroundings of Court 12, Melzer started the match on fire but gradually lost his momentum in the second set and later trailed two sets to one. Able to rally in the fourth, he secured a clutch break in the tenth game to force a deciding set. With his first major quarterfinal on the line, though, Janowicz refused to let the opportunity escape him as he edged across the finish line 6-4 in the fifth.
Comeback of the day: The other half of an all-Polish men’s quarterfinal, Lukas Kubot trailed Adrian Mannarino by a set and later by two sets to one in the most important match of his career so far. Nobody would have expected Kubot to reach a major quarterfinal in singles, yet he wrested away this five-set encounter from his fellow journeyman. His semifinal chances may hinge on whether Janowicz or he can recover from their draining victories more efficiently.
Upset of the day: None. Tomas Berdych deserves credit for snuffing out the most plausible upset threat in Bernard Tomic. Splitting the first two sets in tiebreaks, Berdych gradually asserted himself against the Aussie talent in the next two sets and avoided the nerve-jangling scenario of a fifth set.
Gold star: Before 2013, Juan Martin Del Potro never had reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. This year, he has reached the quarterfinals without losing a set. Del Potro overcame a knee injury to defeat Andreas Seppi after wondering whether he would be fit to play on Monday. Despite all of the surprises at Wimbledon this year, all of the top-eight seeds in the men’s top half reached the quarterfinals.
Silver star: Winless in two previous grass meetings with Tommy Haas, Novak Djokovic seized control of the third from the outset and never let the veteran catch his breath. Like Del Potro, Djokovic has not lost a set en route to the quarterfinals, but this victory impressed more than those that came before because of his history against Haas. He will seek his fourth straight Wimbledon semifinal, not bad for a man whose worst surface is grass.
What doesn’t kill you…: …makes you stronger? World No. 4 David Ferrer has not won any of his four matches in straight sets, three of them against unseeded opponents. Struggling with a painful ankle injury, Ferrer fell behind early again on Monday before dominating the latter stages of the match, as he had in the third round. Wimbledon is the only major where he has not reached the semifinals, so he will aim to end that futility by repeating last year’s victory there over Del Potro.
Foregone conclusion of the day: Even with Nadal’s early exit, two Spaniards reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals. Joining Ferrer there was Fernando Verdasco, who rolled past Kenny de Schepper in straight sets.
Stat of the day: In addition to Agnieszka Radwanska in the women’s draw, the quarterfinal appearances of Kubot and Janowicz gave Poland more Wimbledon quarterfinalists than any other nation.
Question of the day: World No. 2 Andy Murray again took care of business efficiently today, dispatching 20th seed Mikhail Youzhny. Can Murray continue his uneventful progress to the final, his path barred only by Verdasco and one of the Poles? Or will the escalating pressure of the second week lead to some unexpected drama in the bottom half?
Match of the day: One of the greatest grass specialists in WTA history, Sabine Lisicki reached her fourth Wimbledon quarterfinal by shocking heavy title favorite, defending champion, and world No. 1 Serena Williams in three sets. Serena had not looked as sharp in the first week as she had at Roland Garros, but one expected her to prevail once she recovered from a dismal first set. The defending champion dominated Lisicki in the second set and rolled to an early lead in the third, at which point many underdogs might have surrendered. Lisicki is a different player on this court than she is anywhere else, though, and she swung freely with the match in the balance at 4-4 in the final set. Hitting through her nerves and a staggering Serena, she scored perhaps the biggest upset in an upset-riddled draw.
Comeback of the day: When Tsvetana Pironkova claimed the first set from Agnieszka Radwanska, Wimbledon suddenly looked in danger of losing all of the top five women before the quarterfinals. But grass specialists would split their two meetings with top-four seeds on Monday as Radwanska ground through a second straight three-set victory. As has been the case with much of her 2013 campaign, she has not shown her best form while doing just enough to win.
Gold star: Li Na had survived consecutive three-setters to end the first week, including an 8-6 epic against Klara Zakopalova. She needed to fasten her teeth into the tournament more firmly, and she did by losing just two games to the 11th seed, Roberta Vinci. Having defeated Radwanska in a quarterfinal at the Australian Open, Li will hope to repeat the feat in a Tuesday match between the two highest-ranked women remaining in the draw.
Silver star: Only one woman has reached the quarterfinals without losing a set or playing a tiebreak. Take a bow, world No. 15 Marion Bartoli, who has threatened only occasionally at majors since reaching the Wimbledon final in 2007. Granted, Bartoli has faced no opponent in the top 50 to this stage. She participated in a bloodbath of Italians by ousting Karin Knapp for the loss of just five games. (None of the four Italians who reached the fourth round won a set on Manic Monday.)
What doesn’t kill you…: …makes you stronger? The only former Wimbledon champion left in the women’s draw, Petra Kvitova had dropped sets in both of her first-week victories and easily could have done so again on Monday. Former nemesis Carla Suarez Navarro took Kvitova to a first-set tiebreak and the brink of an emotional meltdown, but the Czech steadied herself once she survived it. Kvitova can look ahead to a quarterfinal against Kirsten Flipkens, also fortunate to avoid losing a first set for which her opponent served twice. Flipkens won their previous meeting this year in Miami.
All eyes on Andy: A round after she upset Angelique Kerber, Kaia Kanepi sent home local darling Laura Robson in two tight sets. The match could have tilted in either direction, so Kanepi’s experience probably proved vital in securing her second Wimbledon quarterfinal appearance. She also earned the last laugh on British tabloids that lampooned her burly physique before the Robson match.
Americans in London: In the wake of Serena’s loss, the United States plausibly might have gone home without a single quarterfinalist in either singles draw. Sloane Stephens averted that disappointment by winning a second straight three-setter, this time against Monica Puig. Trailing by a set, Stephens showed resilience in battling through a tight second set and then dominating the third. She has won twelve matches at majors this year, more than many higher-ranked women.
Stat of the day: In Lisicki’s last four Wimbledon appearances, she has defeated the current Roland Garros champion every time. Her repeated denials of Channel Slams protect a record held by compatriot Steffi Graf, who completed the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double four times.
Question of the day: The first three majors will crown three different women’s champions for the third straight year. With all of the top three gone before the quarterfinals, who becomes the new title favorite? One might favor Kvitova, the only woman who has won here before, but conventional wisdom has taken it on the chin all fortnight.