Venus, Roddick look sharp so far
Williams, who is fighting a battle with her health and on the wrong side of 30, was blown off court at the venue where she's won five titles by a player she would usually crush on grass, Elena Vesnina. And it was in the first round. Williams' only other first-round loss at Wimbledon came as a teen on her maiden visit in 1997.
Day 3 Takeaways
The rain stayed away Monday, leading to a full day of play at the Olympic tennis event at Wimbledon. Here are five takeaways:
Perfect for the U.S.: Nine sets played in singles for the U.S., and all nine sets won. Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Andy Roddick, John Isner and Varvara Lepchenko were triumphant, with Lepchenko finishing off Paraguayan Veronica Cepede Royg after they split sets Sunday. Isner and Roddick didn't drop serve against Malek Jaziri and Martin Klizan, respectively. Isner smacked 15 aces, to boot.
No Fed drama this time: When Roger Federer faced Julien Benneteau at Wimbledon in June, the talented Frenchman won the first two sets. Cue the Fed rally. The Olympics rematch was no contest, even if the first-set stats hinted there wasn't much between the players. Federer won 6-2, 6-2 in under an hour and had no difficulty closing it out, unlike in the first round against Alejandro Falla.
Vika tested: Women's world No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska was upset by Julia Goerges on Sunday. No. 1 Victoria Azarenka escaped in three sets Monday, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, against Irina-Camelia Begu. Azarenka's double faults -- she struck 13 in total -- allowed the tall Romanian to get into the match in the second set. But Begu crumbled in the decider, spraying balls and winning four points in the final four games. The match was also notable because Azarenka verbally clashed with chair umpire Julie Kjendlie.
Raonic sets up showdown: He's still young -- 21 -- but Milos Raonic, the huge-serving Canadian, underwhelmed during the grass-court swing. Raonic lost in the second round at Wimbledon and second round at Newport -- beat at the latter by a player ranked outside the top 100. Is now his time to shine? Raonic topped Japan's Tatsuma Ito in straight sets to set up a second-round encounter with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. That'll be tasty.
Thanks, Philipp: Eyebrows were raised when German Philipp Kohlschreiber opted to play at a tournament in Austria the week before the Olympics. Even more were raised when he completed the final, then bailed from the Olympics, citing injury. Slovenia's Blaz Kavcic wasn't complaining. Due to meet Kohlschreiber -- a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon -- Kavcic instead got Kohlschreiber's replacement, 304th-ranked Indian Vishnu Vardhan. Kavcic cruised 6-3, 6-2.
Three times, after all, Roddick has been a match away from becoming a Wimbledon champion, and Ferrer, entering 2012, had never reached the quarterfinals at the All England Club. In his postmatch news conference, when asked if he'd return next year, a calm, retrospective Roddick surprisingly didn't say yes immediately. Perhaps he was simply down after a match that held so much promise. He had won the first set against Ferrer, before succumbing. But Williams, in one of the memorable moments of the fortnight, was downright defiant. She was "planning" on resurfacing in 2013 and vowed Sjogren's syndrome, which has limited her to seven tournaments since last year's U.S. Open, wasn't going to send her into retirement prematurely.
"There's no way I'm just going to sit down and give up just because I have a hard time the first five or six freakin' tournaments back," Williams said in a rare outburst. "You know, that's just not me."
Williams indeed stuck to her word and hasn't given up. She and Roddick were in action at SW19 on Monday.
Williams likely pushed herself more than she should have this year to qualify for the Olympics at Wimbledon this week. Not content to receive a wild card from the ITF, which probably would have come, she reached the quarterfinals at three tournaments earlier this season. That propped up her ranking to barely inside the cut-off line after the French Open.
On the same court and in the same round where Williams could manage a mere four games in the 6-1, 6-3 loss to Vesnina, she surrendered four games to French Open finalist Sara Errani in a near identical score, 6-3, 6-1 on Monday. Whereas Williams' performances at the French Open and Wimbledon suggested she was feeling particularly poor physically, her display against Errani rolled back the years. Williams struck 32 winners and made only half as many unforced errors, an impressive number since the diminutive Italian doesn't self-destruct and forces her opponent hit that extra ball in rallies. Williams' wingspan has long made her an imposing figure at the net, and her 26 net approaches were encouraging. Even better, Williams won 19 of those points. In what might be a good omen for Williams, her next opponent is Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak, who Williams beat in three hours after saving a match point in Miami in March. Williams would then go on to down Ana Ivanovic the next day at the Sony Ericsson Open, proving that with a good spell of health, her stamina won't desert her. Roddick, though not afflicted with an illness such as Williams', has had his own issues physically in the past two years. For most of his career, as Roddick has acknowledged, luck has been on his side on the health front.
Unlike Williams, Roddick played between Wimbledon and the Olympics and received a needed boost of confidence by winning a title in Atlanta.
He preceded Williams on Court 2 and won, although in a less tidy manner. A lone break in each set separated him from little known Slovakian Martin Klizan, 7-5, 6-4. Although not broken -- which is a good sign -- Roddick went a shabby 2-for-13 on break points. "I served really well," Roddick said. "I would have liked to have converted more break points. But I got a couple, and thankfully that's all I needed."
Roddick's first-serve percentage was an impressive 79, and he'll have to be that efficient, maybe more, to also win his next match because Novak Djokovic is his opponent. Not being seeded has its disadvantages.
Roddick, who can rub people the wrong way with his on-court antics, has nonetheless become a sentimental favorite, and the British have a particular fondness for him. They watched as Roddick was painfully beaten by Roger Federer 16-14 in the fifth set of the Wimbledon final three years ago.
Upsetting Djokovic would give Roddick his biggest scalp at the All England Club since 2009, and maybe his final big one overall.
The odds are against Roddick, and Williams' chances of winning a medal of any color still aren't great. One day she can feel fine, and the next day, her health can take a turn for the worse.
But lofty expectations for the pair should be a thing of the past. Let's not speculate on their futures for the time being, either.
They're both at the Olympics, which was the first priority. Going deep would come as a surprise. A pleasant one.
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