The latest from Manic Monday
After a day of intermittent rain, play was suspended on Super Monday with five matches still to complete on the men's side. But in what was still a riveting day, here's how it all unfolded.
Five years ago in the coastal city of Umag, the No. 176-ranked player in the world beat Novak Djokovic at the Croatian Open.
At the time, Viktor Troicki could not know that this first meeting between fellow Serbians would not be a sign of things to come.
For the record, Troicki has now lost to Djokovic 12 times in a row after Monday's methodical fourth-round victory. Unfortunately for Troicki, Centre Court was the only court on the grounds that was playable. Although all the other matches had been washed out by a persistent drizzle, naturally, he was forced to play the world No. 1. At times, he wore the bemused look of a man attending his own execution.
The funny thing? They'll be playing doubles together in a little over three weeks when the Olympics come to Wimbledon. In 2010, Djokovic took two singles rubbers and Troicki one as Serbia won its first Davis Cup title.
"Look, we know each other so well," Djokovic said afterward. "First match we ever played, he was 9, I was 8 in a local tournament in Serbia. It's never easy to play your friend you've know growing up, but there had to be one loser."
It was the 13th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal berth for Djokovic, a testament to his consistent excellence going back to the 2009 French Open. Troicki has never been to a major quarterfinal. Djokovic, who came to Roland Garros this year looking to complete a non-calendar Grand Slam, has now won 31 of his past 32 major matches.
No. 10 Mardy Fish leads No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 1-1
As good as Tsonga looked throughout the tournament, that's how bad he looked against Fish. The raw, clammy conditions and heavy wind sapped his usual high-flying spirit. In between points, Tsonga looked like he was playing in Alaska, a towel wrapped over his shoulders as he waited for the chair umpire to call time. Even then, Tsonga would walk to the baseline still wearing the towel. He looked miserable.
As miserable as he looked, Fish was exactly the opposite. He served big, consistently at 125 mph, and returned even better, starting the match by taking a 117-mph serve from Tsonga and returning it cross court for a winner. Fish showed no signs of fatigue from either his heart ailment or playing five sets with James Ward in his last match. At 2-2 in the first, he broke Tsonga, the first time in the tournament Tsonga lost serve.
Tsonga clearly wasn't right. Throughout the week, he'd been blasting serves, ranging from 125 to 134 mph, but Tsonga was consistently in the 115 mph range on first serve, with numerous of his second serves under 100 mph. Tsonga was ripe for an upset.
Then the rain came. As we've seen at the French Open with Tsonga Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal and again with Nadal at Wimbledon, a delay can change everything. That might turn out to be great news for Tsonga and a bad break for Fish.
Azarenka ran away with her fourth-round encounter with Ivanovic, taking only 62 minutes to get the job done.
The match was a combination of Azarenka playing well and Ivanovic looking lost. The Serbian lost her serve in the opening game, and things just continued to unravel for her.
Azarenka won 63 of the 97 points in the match and converted on six of eight break-point opportunities. In contrast, Ivanovic never capitalized on the three break points she was given. Two of those break points came with Azarenka already ahead 6-1, 4-0.
Her victory will have an impact beyond a quarterfinal appearance for the Belarusian. Azarenka's win guarantees that Maria Sharapova, the French Open champion, will lose the top ranking to either Azarenka or Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland. Sharapova was taken out of the tournament by 15th-seeded Sabine Lisicki earlier in the day.
Azarenka won her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, one of four titles she has already taken home this season (Sydney, Australian Open, Doha and Indian Wells). Last year, she reached the Wimbledon semifinals.
In the quarterfinals, Azarenka will face unseeded Tina Paszek of Austria. This is Paszek's second consecutive quarterfinal showing at Wimbledon.
Youzhny deserved a spot in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. Six previous times he had reached the fourth round at the All England Club -- and all six times he walked away a loser.
In downing Istomin after more than four hours, he completed a career Grand Slam of quarterfinals.
What a way to do it.
Even if breaks were at a premium in the first four-and-a-half sets, this was no boring slugfest. Youzhny's all-around game and personality remain a joy to watch, while Istomin possesses a rock-solid cross-court backhand and admirable touch for someone who appears taller than his 6-foot-2 frame. They both excelled at the net.
The fun truly began when Istomin worked himself back into the encounter, having trailed by a set and break. Youzhny's agitation grew. He let out at least three mammoth roars that would wake up the neighbors. He also cracked his racket when he slammed it against his foot -- no, not his head this time -- and told a television reporter on a roof near Court 18 to be quiet as he served.
Youzhny's forehand cracked in the fourth-set tiebreaker.
Nerves were on display in the middle of the fifth. When Istomin broke for 4-3, he was set to become the first Uzbek to advance to the quarterfinals at a major. But he then delivered his worst service game of the affair to tamely get broken himself and missed three break points at 4-4. Another one went astray at 5-5, and it hurt -- a second-serve return sailed long.
Those are match-changers, and Youzhny gladly took advantage of his second chance.
Russian Maria Kirilenko reached her first Wimbledon quarterfinal when she beat Peng Shuai of China on Monday.
The 17th-seeded Kirilenko had never before advanced beyond the third round at Wimbledon, which is the round she reached here the past two years.
This marks the second time in Kirilenko's career she has attained a Grand Slam quarterfinal berth. She was a member of the final-eight club at the Australian Open in 2010.
Heading into the fourth-round match, Kirilenko had dropped 11 games in three matches, which was a better statistic in that category than any of the remaining 16 women.
The victory didn't come easily. It took Kirilenko 2 hours, 20 minutes to send 30th-ranked Peng packing.
Peng barely seemed a part of the first set as she had her serve broken three times and never had a break-point opportunity against Kirilenko.
In the second set, both players broke serve twice to eventually move into a tiebreaker. Peng hit an impressive backhand cross-court winner to send the match into a third set but couldn't keep her momentum going once there.
Kirilenko had 12 unforced errors in the match. Peng committed twice as many. But interestingly, Peng had 32 winners to 29 for Kirilenko.
Peng ended her Wimbledon campaign in the fourth round for the second consecutive year.
The victory gives Kirilenko a 2-1 edge on Peng in their career head-to-head matchups. This, however, was the first time they've played since Beijing 2006, a match that Peng won in three sets.
No. 3 Roger Federer defeats Xavier Malisse 7-6 (1), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3
Malisse of Belgium is known far and wide as "X-man," and Federer is just as well-known for X-ing out opponents in Grand Slam tournaments. Thus he carved his X across Malisse's name in the draw here at Wimbledon, winning 7-6 (1), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
Malisse showed the ball-striking skill that has made him a favorite of the connoisseur in the first few games of the first set and punched through a break when Federer netted a forehand. Then the X-man showed his considerable choking skills by playing a terrible game, falling behind 0-40 and allowing a break one point later.
Having dodged that bullet, Federer rolled through the tiebreaker; he lost just one point (the first one Malisse served) and closed it out with a pretty drop shot that sent Malisse this message: Anything you can do, I can do better.
Ominously, though, Federer's already light tread grew downright delicate starting in the late stages of the first set. Despite that blowout tiebreaker, he left the court before the start of the second set to seek treatment for a lower back injury (massage and painkillers that would, with the benefit of a rain delay, make Federer more comfortable).
However, Malisse was so dispirited -- or was it "confused"? -- by the tiebreaker that he offered little resistance as Federer ripped through the second set, losing but one game.
At that point, it seemed like Federer was in full control, but Malisse popped back to life unexpectedly. He broke in the first game and played solid, smart tennis, fending off every assault on his service games to win the set 6-4.
When Malisse broke Federer in the very next game, it looked as though things might get a little Western, but Federer snapped to life again and broke twice in succession. Malisse managed a hold at 2-5, but Federer closed him out with an ace.
"I have to apologize to Xavier for what happened in the first set," Federer told the BBC immediately afterward. Amend that -- you ought to apologize to him for the whole beatdown.
The year began as the season of Victoria Azarenka and was turning into the season of Maria Sharapova, but one woman quietly has been winning more matches than either of them. Her name is Angelique Kerber, and she extended her match wins to a tour-leading 44 with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Kim Clijsters.
Before the match, Kerber said Clijsters was one of her biggest idols growing up, but the 24-year-old German showed little mercy in sending her onetime hero out of her final Wimbledon in just 49 minutes. For Clijsters, who plans to retire after the U.S. Open, a one-sided match on low-key Court 3 was a disappointing way to exit. Walking out alongside Kerber, she kept her head down and did not turn around for a final wave at the Grand Slam that inspired her comeback, and the only one where she did not make at least the final.
But although one star exits, another new one may be emerging. This is Kerber's third quarterfinal or better in the past four Slams, and she recently entered the top 10 after being outside the top 100 a year ago. And it doesn't look like she's done rising.
On Monday, Kerber took charge from the beginning, breaking in the very first game and bullying Clijsters from the baseline throughout the match. Clijsters won just 24 percent of the points on her second serve and 56 percent over her first, and barely managed to avoid a bagel in the second set by winning a long game down 5-0.
In the quarterfinals, Kerber will face fellow German Sabine Lisicki, who upset Maria Sharapova. What would she do if she won Wimbledon? "I'll jump out of an airplane," Kerber said.
She and her coach have a deal to go skydiving if that happens.
No. 15 Sabine Lisicki defeats No. 1 Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-3
Manic Monday became a disheartening day for Sharapova.
The reigning French Open champion was taken to task by 15th-seeded Lisicki of Germany. Lisicki hit a second-serve ace on her third match point to post a 6-4, 6-3 upset of top-seeded Sharapova and move on to the quarterfinals.
Sharapova won only 56 percent of her first-serve points in the 1-hour, 24-minute match. Lisicki posted a 71 percent margin in winning first-serve points.
The two went off the court for a rain delay after Lisicki won the opening set. Often a player can refocus during that time away from the match, but Sharapova continued to look out of sync upon her return to Court 1.
In the opening set, Sharapova was serving to even the score to 5-5, but dropped her serve to surrender 6-4. Then, before she could even blink, Sharapova was 4-1 down in the second set.
Sharapova had won their three previous head-to-head matches -- all in the past two years -- but couldn't make it a 4-0 career edge over the German. They played here last year in the semifinals, and Sharapova prevailed 6-4, 6-3.
Lisicki is now 9-17 against top-10 opponents. The only other time she's played a world No. 1 was against Dinara Safina, losing here in the 2009 quarterfinals.
For Sharapova, though, she has an early start on Olympic preparation.
If it weren't for her inability to beat Victoria Azarenka, Radwanska just might be the No. 1 player in the world. She's beaten Maria Sharapova and just about everyone else, rising to a career-high No. 3 in the world without winning a major.
On the grass at Wimbledon, Radwanska has been criticized as being another Caroline Wozniacki -- good defense yet lacking firepower. However, Radwanska hasn't dropped a set in the tournament.
Giorgi is full of firepower on both wings, playing a relentless style that mirrors that of hard-hitting missile Dominika Cibulkova. Giorgi hits the ball with authority and power, and her attacking style provided a nice contrast to the steady and solid Radwanska.
After she broke Giorgi for the second time to serve for the match, the buzz through Court 2 was palpable as the scoreboard showed Sabine Lisicki's 6-4, 6-3 upset of Sharapova, making the championship road for Radwanska's potential first major just a bit easier.
Giorgi, as a final act, broke Radwanska at 5-2, denying her even a match point and exposing the Achilles heel of Radwanska: a dearth of power and ability to hit winners that could carry her to a Slam title.
On her own serve at 3-5, however, Giorgi needed more precision, double-faulting twice, including on Radwanska's second match point.
Two years ago, after she won her only Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, Schiavone came to Wimbledon and, emotionally exhausted, got dusted in the first round. This year, after she departed the French Open in the third round, Schiavone had plenty of gas in her tank. She also has a game that travels surprisingly well from clay to grass.
In the 10th game of the first set, Schiavone showed some grit against the defending Wimbledon champion, fighting off three breaks points and converting when Kvitova made an awkward approach and dumped a forehand into the net. Nearly four games into the second set, Schiavone found herself up a set and a break -- and serving at 30-love -- when Kvitova finally awakened.
Her second set alone consumed 68 minutes, and by the time the match resumed after a rain delay, the feisty Italian was already starting to come unstrung. She complained to the chair umpire that the Court No. 3 surface was unplayable. Schiavone offered little resistance in the third set.
Next up for the 22-year-old from the Czech Republic: a titanic quarterfinal matchup with Serena Williams.
Serena has won the only two times they've played, both at Grand Slams in 2010, including here at the All England Club. Kvitova has yet to win a set, but she's on a roll here. After losing the first four matches of her career on grass, Kvitova seems to like the green stuff; she's won 10 straight matches here.
In the previous round, Shvedova dropped a "golden set" on French Open finalist Sara Errani, winning all 24 points of the first set in a scant 15 minutes. It was the first time that has happened in a Grand Slam of the Open era.
On Monday, against a four-time champion here, it wasn't so easy -- at least initially. Williams built a 5-0 lead in the first 19 minutes and coasted through the first set. But then she kept coasting and the match progressed to a third set.
Williams had a terrific opportunity to take control in the ninth game, forcing Shvedova into a love-40 hole, but the unseeded player from Kazakhstan won five straight points. On Shvedova's next service game, Serena broke her -- thanks to back-to-back double faults by the crumbling Shvedova, who had never reached the third round here before.
The last 10 minutes of the match were played in a light drizzle that caused the suspension of all of the other courts around the grounds.
"We both wanted to keep playing because we were so deep into the match," Williams said.
Thus, Williams -- who was fortunate to win her third-round match over Zheng Jie 9-7 in the third -- survived another tight match. With 12 aces, she did not approach her Wimbledon record of 23 against Zheng, but was reasonably effective.
"Drama again," Williams said afterward in a sing-song voice. "Drama again.
"I'm not tired. I'm not anything. The bottom line: I can play so much better."
-- Greg Garber
The 21-year-old Paszek, whose highest ranking was No. 35 in 2007, but who made the quarterfinals here last year, went out in the first round of the French Open and lost her first two grass-court matches in Nottingham and Birmingham. She found her game at Eastbourne, England, beating No. 9 Marion Bartoli and No. 13 Angelique Kerber to win the tournament -- fighting off five match points against Bartoli -- and hasn't lost since.
Paszek, with her soaring confidence and aggressive topspin forehand, upset No. 7 Caroline Wozniacki in the first round, in which she fought off two match points, rolled through Alize Cornet in the second and beat Yanina Wickmayer in three tough sets in the third.
Against an imprecise, underpowered Vinci, Paszek raced to a 4-0 lead in the first set and traded breaks in the second at 2-2 before pulling away. As the finish line neared, Paszek did something that made you wonder if it wasn't so crazy to think bigger things for her after all: Instead of playing conservatively the closer she inched toward victory, Paszek hit bigger, attempting even more daring tactics.
She ripped inside-out forehands at Vinci, and as Paszek came to the net and fired her down-the-line backhand, she yelled, "Come on!" in English, even though she is Austrian.