Commentary

Poles vault into quarterfinals

Updated: July 1, 2013, 5:21 PM ET
By Greg Garber | ESPN.com

LONDON -- Poland, with about 120,000 square miles, is about three-quarters the size of California. Their populations are virtually identical.

So, how is it that this central European country (rarely perceived as a tennis power) produced two men's quarterfinalists in a span of mere minutes Monday, Jerzy Janowicz and Lukasz Kubot, when the entire United States of America failed to send even one man to the third round?

[+] EnlargeJerzy Janowicz
Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty ImagesYou might not know him yet, but Jerzy Janowicz, with his massive serve, is into the quarterfinals.
Oh, and we should mention No. 4 women's seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who is also into the quarters with a three-set win over Tsvetana Pironkova.

"Yeah, it's unbelievable what is going on right now," Janowicz said. "We have this moment two players in quarterfinal in men's draw. I think this is by far the best what possibly could happen to Polish tennis."

"Right now, tennis is a really famous sport in our country."

Somewhere, Wojtek Fibak is smiling. He was the last Polish man to reach a major quarterfinal, losing all four times he got to the final eight of a Grand Slam. Now, it is a mathematical certainty that Poland will send its first man ever to a semifinal, given that No. 24-seeded Janowicz and No. 130-ranked Kubot will play each other Wednesday.

"We are good friends," Janowicz said. "We are Davis Cup team from two years, so we know each other pretty well. I went straightaway to his locker room. We hugged."

"I mean, is magical."

Their timelines could not be more different. Janowicz is a 22-year-old phenom who broke out here a year ago as a qualifier, reaching the third round. He has won six of his seven main-draw matches here. Kubot , 31, is a journeyman with a career losing record. He is the lowest-ranked quarterfinalist here since No. 158 Bernard Tomic in 2011.

One thing they have in common: nasty, searing serves.

Janowicz leads the tournament with 64 aces and has the fastest serve, at 140 mph. Kubot isn't far behind, with 41 aces and a top speed of 135.

If Janowicz prevails -- the two Poles have never met in an ATP World Tour match -- he would face No. 2 seed Andy Murray. Last fall in Paris, Janowicz beat Murray.

In his postmatch news conference, Janowicz was asked how Paris changed his life.

"I gave answer to this question about 58 times," he said.

Is he looking ahead to a semifinal match against a man he beat the last time they played?

"No, no, no," Janowicz said. "I still have one match to go. The most important is to be focused before every single match. We're still far away from semis."

Djokovic in 17th straight quarter

Nobody is playing better here than Novak Djokovic. Better, he says, than he was in 2011 when he won the tournament.

The No. 1 seed dispatched 35-year-old Tommy Haas 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (4). He has now taken all 12 sets he has played.

Haas had beaten Djokovic in both of their previous matches on grass, including Wimbledon in 2009.

"I knew coming into this match I had a bad record against him on grass," Djokovic said . "It was a tough challenge. There was a minor setback at 5-3, 30-love [in the third set]. I'm glad I managed to close it out in three."

Djokovic meets No. 7 Tomas Berdych in Wednesday's quarterfinals. It is the 17th consecutive time Djokovic has reached a major quarter, third all time to Roger Federer (36) and Jimmy Connors (27).

Berdych beat Djokovic in their only meeting here, in straight sets, in the 2010 semifinals.

Berdych ousts Tomic

It remains one of the great mysteries of this tournament: Did Bernard Tomic's irrepressible father, John, sneak past the Wimbledon gatekeepers -- contrary to the ban imposed by the All England Club?

Maybe. Tomic suggested as much in his news conference after a third-round match, prompting the club to confirm that his picture is posted at every gate with orders to deny him entry.

In the final analysis, however, it doesn't really matter. Monday was Tomic's last day at the All England Club. No. 7-ranked Berdych escorted the 20-year-old-Australian off the grounds, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4.

Time to dust off Fred Perry

It's that time again.

With No. 2 seed Andy Murray safely into the quarterfinals here -- he handled Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-1 -- the name Fred Perry will become a staple in those British newspapers over the coming days. Perry won three consecutive Wimbledon titles, 1934-36, and Murray is trying to become the first British man to do so in 77 years.

However, Murray already has an edge over Perry. At the age of 26, he has already won more Grand Slam matches than any other British man, a total that now stands at 110. Perry won 106.

Youzhny actually served for the second set at 5-3 before succumbing in a tiebreaker.

Murray's quarterfinal opponent Wednesday is Fernando Verdasco, whom he has beaten eight of nine times.

Et cetera

Despite playing with a heavily wrapped left knee, Juan Martin del Potro defeated Andreas Seppi 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-3 and reached the quarterfinals here for the first time. … No. 1 doubles seeds Bob and Mike Bryan defeated No. 16 seeds Treat Huey and Dominic Inglot 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (3) to advance to the quarterfinals. The Bryans are three matches from winning their fourth consecutive Grand Slam event (plus the Olympics) and keeping alive their dream of achieving a true, calendar-year Grand Slam. … No. 5-seeded American Taylor Townsend, 17, was a 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-5 winner over Iryna Shymanovich of Belarus.

Greg Garber

Writer, Reporter
Greg Garber joined ESPN in 1991 and provides reports for NFL Countdown and SportsCenter. He is also a regular contributor to Outside the Lines and a senior writer for ESPN.com.