Rating a star-studded day of tennis
WIMBLEDON, England -- They call it the Greatest Day in Tennis, the only Grand Slam that sends out all 32 players who have advanced to the fourth round on the same day.
In terms of sheer density, Monday at the All England Club delivered. Three matches featured a pair of former Grand Slam champions, and several favorites struggled, most notably Andy Roddick and Robin Soderling.
Without further ado, we rate the matches (on a scale of 0 to 10):
Yen-Hsun Lu def. No. 5 Andy Roddick 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 9-7: A spectacular match that went 4 hours, 36 minutes. Roddick's serve wasn't broken until the last game -- just like last year's final, when he lost to Roger Federer 16-14 in the fifth. Lu, a 26-year-old journeyman from Chinese Taipei, played the match of his life.
Match rating: 9.3
No. 1 Serena Williams def. No. 16 Maria Sharapova 7-6 (9), 6-4: The day's marquee matchup between former Wimbledon champions delivered on all counts. Serena won a breathtaking tiebreaker in the first set and eased into the quarterfinals. The match featured a lot of big groundstrokes -- and grunts to match.
Match rating: 8.8
No. 6 Robin Soderling def. No. 9 David Ferrer 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5: This was supposed to be easy for Soderling -- who was looking ahead to seeing Rafael Nadal in the quarters -- but Ferrer battled him mightily. The match went 3 hours, 3 minutes, and it was in doubt until the very end.
Match rating: 8.5
No. 8 Kim Clijsters def. No. 17 Justine Henin 2-6, 6-2, 6-3: Before the match, Henin had said she doubted she would win the tournament -- and she was right. Clijsters beat her Belgian rival for the third time this year in three sets. The other two ended in tiebreakers; this one was a far more forceful effort.
Match rating: 8.3
No. 2 Venus Williams def. Jarmila Groth 6-4, 7-6 (5): This one was much closer than the score suggests. Groth, who was born in Bratislava, Slovakia, with the last name of Gajdosova, moved to Australia at age 14 after competing in the Australian Open. Now married to former ATP player Sam Groth, she hit toe-to-toe with Venus and had numerous chances to win the second set. She withered at the end, hitting a double fault and dumping an easy forehand into the net.
Match rating: 7.7
No. 12 Tomas Berdych def. Daniel Brands 4-6, 7-6 (1), 7-5, 6-3: Serving for the third set at 5-3, the 98th-ranked Brands of Germany couldn't consolidate his advantage. Berdych came back to win this 3-hour, 4-minute slugfest. Brands hit 60 winners, two more than Berdych.
Match rating: 7.2
Tsvetana Pironkova def. No. 11 Marion Bartoli 6-4, 6-4: The 22-year-old Bulgarian has now won four matches here -- her best Grand Slam singles effort ever. She was so happy afterward that she kissed the grass on Court No. 5. The lowest-ranked woman remaining (No. 82), Pironkova should be in the WTA top 50 next week. Her victory prevented a rematch of the 2007 final, when Venus Williams waxed Bartoli 6-4, 6-1.
Match rating: 6.0
Petra Kvitova def. No. 3 Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-0: Perhaps the day's biggest surprise. Who would have thought the 20-year-old from the Czech Republic would win 10 of 12 games against the No. 3 seed? The Mary Pierce look-alike is the only left-hander remaining on the women's side. After losing here in the first round in 2008 and 2009, she's 4-for-4 in her best Grand Slam tournament ever, in which she's also sent home Victoria Azarenka and Zheng Jie.
Match rating: 5.9
No. 3 Novak Djokovic def. No. 15 Lleyton Hewitt 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4: Djokovic reported that he had a temperature to the trainer during the match, but he survived that drama to advance to his second consecutive quarterfinal at Wimbledon.
Match rating: 5.3
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No. 4 Andy Murray def. No. 18 Sam Querrey 7-5, 6-3, 6-4: This one was over in a swift 2 hours, 6 minutes. Querrey was 1-for-8 on break points, and Murray is the only man not to drop a set. Will he end the long British drought at Wimbledon?
Match rating: 5.2
No. 1 Roger Federer def. No. 16 Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 6-2, 6-3: Federer again served poorly, but the surprise French Open semifinalist was oddly listless. This was the quickest men's match and was over in only 84 minutes.
Match rating: 5.0
Kaia Kanepi def. Klara Zakopalova 6-2, 6-4: The Estonian will make her second appearance in a major quarterfinal. (The 2008 French Open is the other.) Kanepi had lost four of five matches at Wimbledon before this year, but she is 4-for-4 in 2010.
Match rating: 4.7
No. 2 Rafael Nadal def. Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 6-2, 6-2: His knees, a concern after his third-round match, looked steady. Nadal's next opponent, Soderling, seems vaguely familiar.
Match rating: 4.6
Match rating: 4.0
Match rating: 1.6
No. 21 Vera Zvonareva def. No. 4 Jelena Jankovic, 6-1, 3-0 (retired): The chronically dramatic Jankovic waved the white flag even before the match began in the form of a white wrap on her right thigh. It was over in 43 minutes -- the fastest match of the day -- and Zvonareva won 44 of 68 points. Last year, after losing to Melanie Oudin here in the third round, Jankovic blamed "women's problems."Match rating: 0.0
Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
Uneasy in the public eye
Jennifer Capriati's Grand Slam debut at age 14 was a stunning success; she reached the semifinals at the French Open and marked herself as a precocious challenger for the foreseeable future.
Early Monday morning, according to TMZ, Capriati, now 34, was rushed to a Florida hospital after paramedics responded to a call for a possible drug overdose. TMZ reported that Capriati's father said she was recovering well.
"Everyone in tennis has been following Jennifer for, what, 20 years," ESPN analyst Pam Shriver said. "That's a lot of stress and wear and tear in the public eye. I think she needs to find the next passion after tennis. She has a great heart, and I'm sure she has other skills, too."
After leaving the game for a few years -- she was arrested for marijuana possession in 1994 -- Capriati won three major titles and an Olympic gold medal, but she never seemed comfortable with herself off the court. In 2007, she admitted that she suffered from depression and harbored suicidal thoughts. Even though she played her last match in late 2004 in Philadelphia, Capriati has never formally retired.
"Maybe that passion is tennis," Shriver said. "Like [39-year-old] Kimiko Date Krumm, maybe she should take another crack at the sport. Whatever she decides to do, she needs to make better decisions and, hopefully, rely on family and friends."
Three things I KNOW I think
1. These guys -- not just John Isner -- have been going the absolute distance: With Andy Roddick and Robin Soderling going the maximum allotment of five sets Monday, we've now seen 30 (count them) five-setters through four rounds. The total of 28 through three was the most at Wimbledon in 16 years and the most in a major since the 2004 U.S. Open.
2. The show courts are fried: Since putting that 80 million pound (about $120 million U.S.) roof in place last year, rain has been scarce at the Big W. Not a bleeding drop so far this year, and the baselines are all chewed up and brown. On Court No. 2, when Roddick's forehands landed in the dust, they looked like small grenades going off.
3. The Caesar is almost always the best lunch play: Wimbledon's broadcast center cafeteria produces a terrific salad with a dry Romano cheese and homemade croutons. The best accompaniment is not the chicken, but the chili prawns.
Grand Slam victories (36)
Four former Grand Slam singles champions were eliminated Monday -- all by former Grand Slam champions.