Federer, Nadal headline wild week
LONDON -- When the dreary skies finally gave in Thursday and the rain started falling, things came to a fairly abrupt stop. Sure, the roof salvaged the day for Centre Court ticket holders, but most of the outsiders didn't know what to do with themselves, including the little man in the booth responsible for weather reports. Every half hour or so, he would come back on the mike to inform us in a painfully detailed way that there were no updates. (Thank you for that.)
Anyway, aside from those forgettable rain-paralyzing moments, a lot did happen in Week 1. As a matter of fact, with so many stars already beginning their summer hard-court preparation, we're not quite sure who made Monday's round of 16, even though we actually know their names.
Here are the top 10 headlines from what was a wildly weird and whacked-out week at Wimbledon:
10. Brown's waterworks
There's nothing wrong with a grown man crying. But when Dustin Brown beat 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt and started bawling, the grounds crew here in London nearly had to roll out the tarps to keep the lawn from drowning in his tears. "I cried like a little girl," Brown said. But under the guise of compassion, Brown has spent the bulk of his career scrapping his way through lower-level events and traveling from tournament to tournament in a VW camper; thus, the emotions are certainly justified. And for a little gravy, Brown booted Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the next round, the first time the German-born Jamaican ever won two matches in a single Slam.
9. Riggs-King II?
As it turns out, no one on the WTA Tour is able to hang with Serena Williams these days. She's up to 33 straight wins -- and counting. That's where Andy Murray stepped in. Now he might have issued the challenge to her in jest, but, Andy, don't try to make a ha-ha in front of your hordes of hovering media and not expect it to garner back-page attention. How would Serena handle Murray? She initially said she doubted whether she would win a single point but then retracted only so slightly. "I think I might go clay with him," Williams said. "He loves grass. I do, too. But I'm going to definitely go clay."
Wimbledon still pines for one of its own to break the long string of futility. You're probably sick of hearing about Fred Perry by now, but for context, we are obligated to mention his name and the year 1936 and the drought. However, the All England Club suits made a brilliant decision to help alleviate the air of desperation when it brought a number of Britain's 29 gold medalists from a year ago to the Royal Box -- including the most golden of them all, Andy Murray. A pretty sweet consolation prize.
7. Hometown girl bringing it
Murray will always carry the lion's share of expectations until the day he goes all Perry on us and wins. But Laura Robson isn't far behind. With her 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 win over Marina Erakovic, Robson reached the fourth round of a major for the first time. Robson has been in the peripheral vision of many in the tennis community since she won the girls' singles title here in 2008 and certainly the central focus every time her Wimbledon campaign begins. She's the first British woman to reach the second week of Wimbledon since Sam Smith in 1998. How's that for pressure?
6. Abject Americans
A United Nation report from a year ago says there are only about 316,000 people 100 years old or older. And, until this past week, only those rare centenarians had had a shot at watching the American men crash out at Wimbledon before the second round. The year was 1912, and not one time since had every single XY-chromosomed Yank failed to reach the third round. But this past week, they went down one by one. From John Isner to Sam Querrey, there were a total of 11 Americans wallowing in their Wimbledon results. Late Thursday night, Bobby Reynolds galloped onto Centre Court as the last hope. The only problem, though, was his opponent: Novak Djokovic.
5. Shining Americans
So, while the American men were pretty bad, the women have fared more than respectably. Sure, Serena is Serena, and her wins are expected, so when her disciples succeed, it's pretty exciting stuff. In Paris, it was Sloane Stephens, Jamie Hampton and Bethanie Mattek-Sands who all reached the fourth round. Here in London, Stephens is again in the fourth round, but it was 18-year-old Madison Keys who stole the headlines before losing to Agnieszka Radwanska in Round 3. Keys looks well-suited for grass, but, to her credit, she looks comfortable on all surfaces. She reached the third round at the Aussie and won a match at the French Open. And another newcomer, Alison Riske, snapped an 0-5 Grand Slam winless streak to reach the third round.
4. Day of destruction
After a record-setting day of withdrawals and retirements on Day 3, no one could have blamed SW19 for calling in the local CSI team to investigate the carnage. Seven players, including Victoria Azarenka and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, dropped out either before they struck a single ball or in the middle of their match, the most ever in a single Slam day. Then, of course, the finger-pointing began. Was something wrong with the grass? Was it too cold? A combination? A freak day? Perhaps the condensation from Dustin Brown's tears? That depends on whom you ask. Nonetheless, it was a frenetic few hours that blew up both brackets.
Wednesday at the All England Club was so insane that Maria Sharapova's loss barely made headlines. But she was outplayed and out-squealed by Michelle Larcher de Brito in the second round. But the good news for the French Open runner-up was she got to stick around an extra couple of days to watch her beau, Grigor Dimitrov (yes, the dude with the heart of black). Sharapova fell several times in the match and was visibly upset with the conditions, but, to her credit, she finished the match, unlike the aforementioned debilitated seven.
2. From bad to worse for Nadal
When Lukas Rosol stunned Rafael Nadal in the second round at Wimbledon in 2012, some of the hyperbolic media called it the most shocking loss of the century. That lasted all of a year until this past Monday when Steve Darcis beat Nadal in the most recent shocking loss of the century. It was a stunning turn of events for Nadal, who was coming off an incredible streak that saw him win seven tournaments (including the French Open) in nine events. But there is good news for the crestfallen man of clay. (See No. 1.)
1. The King knocked out
It's kind of like punching someone in the head to make them forget about an ailing shoulder. Two days into Nadal's new reign as the victim of the most shocking loss of the century, Roger Federer came to the rescue -- well, sort of. He lost to Sergiy Stakhovsky in an upset that erased memories of Nadal's blunder. Stakhovsky flummoxed Federer for a better part of four sets in the first time in a decade the 17-time Grand Slam champ failed to reach a major quarterfinal. And to think Federer's biggest concern heading into the match was his rogue shoes. Federer had been 49-0 in second-round Grand Slam matches. No player has ever been as poised or graceful on grass as Federer, and no one was ever more of a sure thing to reach the second week. But amid a day of record wreckage, King Federer might finally have relinquished his crown for good.
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