<
>

Strange day indeed

WIMBLEDON, England -- It is, as they say, why we watch.

The most bizarre day in Wimbledon history started with John Isner, the top-ranked American in the draw, retiring with a knee injury just 14 minutes into the match, and ended with world No. 116 Sergiy Stakhovsky snapping Roger Federer's legendary 36-tournament Grand Slam quarterfinal streak on Centre Court, where just a year ago Federer won his 17th major championship.

In between, upsets and injuries occurred at such a dizzying pace that the tournament was thrown into marvelous disarray, creating the opportunity for some previously unknown player to take center stage.

A brief timeline:

Steve Darcis, who opened up the men's draw with a shocking first-round upset of Rafael Nadal, withdraws with a right shoulder injury: "It's tough to say," Darcis said when asked who would win Wimbledon. "We're just in the second round, but if I have to put my money on someone, maybe I will choose Federer."

Victoria Azarenka, the world No. 2, withdraws with a right knee injury, making Serena Williams even more of a favorite.

Radek Stepanek, who won the clinching Davis Cup match for the Czech Republic over Spain last winter, retires with a left hamstring injury in his match against Jerzy Janowicz.

Marin Cilic, the 10th seed, who was expected to make a charge to the quarterfinals and tantalize the crowds with a fourth-round appearance, withdraws against France's Kenny de Schepper.

Former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic loses to 19-year old Eugenie Bouchard.

Former world No. 1 and 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt loses to world No. 189 Dustin Brown, whose eyes well up as he walks off the court: "Yeah," he said. "I cried like a little girl. I was just happy and everything. I have a lot of friends here. My coach is here. My girlfriend is here … I thought, 'Even if I lose in five sets, I still won two sets off Lleyton Hewitt.'"

Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki loses to Petra Cetkovska, blames falling on the grass.

Yaroslava Shvedova withdraws before her match with 2011 Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova.

No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retires (left knee injury) down two sets to one on Centre Court to Ernests Gulbis: "Um, I have a little problem with my tendon on my knee," Tsonga said. "I have this since a couple of day now. Was not a really good sign because I already had problems with this tendon. I know when it's going worse and worse like this that's it's not really good for me to play."

Said Gulbis: "I don't feel any vibe between players because I don't talk much in the locker room, but if you want to analyze, dig deeper."

World No. 2 Maria Sharapova loses to world No. 131 Michelle Larcher de Brito, of Portugal, in straight sets, but not before telling the chair umpire that the court was "dangerous": "Well, after I buckled my knee three times, that's obviously my first reaction, and because I've just never fallen that many times in a match before."

Former world no. 1 Jelena Jankovic loses to Vesna Dolonc.

Stakhovsky defeats Federer 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5), capping off a day where seven former No. 1 players (Sharapova, Azarenka, Jankovic, Wozniacki, Hewitt and Ivanovic) lose.

Now, Benoit Paire (rank: 27), Lukasz Kubot (130), Adrian Mannrino (111) or Dustin Brown (189) will make a quarterfinal: "There was a time where some players didn't believe they could beat the top guys," Federer said. "So maybe there's a little bit of a thing happening at the moment. I'm happy about that, that players believe they can beat the best on the biggest courts in the biggest matches."