Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Associated Press
WIMBLEDON, England - Whew.
Good thing Wimbledon schedules its middle Sunday as a day off. This year, that gave everyone a chance to catch their breath after an eventful Week 1.
Really, when action resumes today with all 16 men's and women's fourth-round matches, what could Week 2 possibly have in store to equal what the first six days offered?
There was two-time champion Rafael Nadal's loss in the second round to an unknown guy ranked 100th -- a guy who was beaten in his next match. A day after Nadal's exit, ending his streak of reaching five consecutive Grand Slam finals, Roger Federer, owner of six titles at the All England Club and a record 16 major trophies overall, dropped the first two sets of his third-round match ... before coming back to win.
There was five-time champion Venus Williams' departure on Day 1; the only other time in 16 appearances at Wimbledon that she lost in the first round came during her debut in 1997 at age 17. Her younger sister, four-time champion Serena, is still around, but only barely. She pounded a tournament-record 23 aces to escape the third round with a 9-7 third-set victory.
As superb as both of the Williams siblings are, neither has pulled off what Serena's next opponent managed to do Saturday: a perfect set. No woman had ever won all 24 points in a set in a professional match -- and only one man had done it -- until 65th-ranked Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan began that way against 10th-seeded Sara Errani of Italy, who was the runner-up at the French Open.
"Hopefully I'll be able to win a point in the set," Williams said, keeping a straight face. "That will be my first goal, and then I'll go from there."
On and on and on it went last week.
American qualifier Brian Baker, who wasn't even ranked a year ago because he was forced off tour for more than half a decade by a series of operations, made it to the fourth round. So did 10th-seeded Mardy Fish, playing in his first tournament in about two months after being treated for an accelerated heartbeat. Another U.S. man, Sam Querrey, lost a 17-15 fifth set to 16th-seeded Marin Cilic after 5 hours, the second-longest match in tournament history.
Errani was on the good side of another oddity, when she and her second-round opponent, CoCo Vandweghe of the U.S., were sent home at match point one evening because it was too dark to play. When they returned the next day, Vandeweghe double-faulted right away, allowing Errani to wrap up a victory after seven seconds of "action" -- and not a single swing of her racket.
There was more, too.
The tournament seemed to become enamored of its retractable roof, pulling it shut over Centre Court so much that defending champion Novak Djokovic remarked: "I was a little bit surprised, when I saw sunshine, that the roof is closed. Obviously, they're relying on a forecast that I don't think is very reliable here."
Let's hope he's right about that last part, because the outlook calls for a 60 or 70 percent chance of rain today, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Even the last match of Week 1 had a bit of intrigue: Could Andy Murray -- successor to Tim Henman as the Great British Hope -- finish off 2006 Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis before Centre Court turned into a pumpkin? Tourney rules require play to be halted by 11 p.m., but Murray got a two-minute extension so he could finish.n Novak Djokovic (1), Serbia, vs. Viktor Troicki, Serbia
• Roger Federer (3), Switzerland, vs. Xavier Malisse, Belgium
• Maria Sharapova (1), Russia, vs. Sabine Lisicki (15), Germany
• Serena Williams (6), United States, vs. Yaroslava Shvedova, Kazakhstan
TELEVISION: 7 a.m., ESPN2; 8 a.m., ESPN