Wimbledon Fever

As Day 3 of Wimbledon 2013 concludes, I take a look back at the first two rounds of the gentlemen’s singles competition, which have provided no shortage of shock results and some fantastic tennis.

In the first round alone, there was no fewer than seven seeded players knocked out. A further 4 seeded players have so far been knocked out in the second round, with 14 seeds still to play on Thursday.

Round One: Spanish Surprise, Aussie Aussie Aussie, Bittersweet Serbia

There’s only one place to start: Rafael Nadal. Coming off the back of a record-setting eighth French Open title in June, the Spaniard was looking to continue his incredible recovery from a troublesome knee injury which had kept him out for over 7 months.

However it was a case of history repeating itself for the 12-time grand slam winner.

Cast your minds back to the second round of Wimbledon 2012. You may remember a man named Lukáš Rosol, then ranked 100th in the world, caused one of the greatest upsets in Open era history (post 1967) when he beat Nadal 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. That was Nadal’s last match until February 5th this year, during which time he missed the Olympic Games and the US Open, both of which were won by Andy Murray.

Due to being out for 222 days and missing various tournaments, Nadal slipped down the rankings to 5th in the world, with him even slipping down a place after winning the French Open due to the way the rankings work.

This meant he was seeded 5th in the draw and had a potential mouthwatering clash against Federer in the quarter-finals. It was the match that everyone was looking forward to, but a Belgian , ranked 135th in the world, by the name of Steve Darcis had other ideas.

29-year-old Darcis, pronounced as in Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, produced an absolute master class of tennis to stun Nadal 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 and be the first victor over Rafa in the first round of any Grand Slam.

An incredible array of perfect groundstrokes and lobs from the Belgian turned the Spaniard inside out, with the overwhelming favourite looking like the rank outsider on many occasions.

Nadal’s knee looked to be causing him trouble throughout the match, but he refused to blame it for the loss: “The only thing that I can say today is to congratulate Steve Darcis.

“Everything that I will say today about my knee is an excuse, and I don’t like to put [forward] any excuse when I’m losing a match like I lost today.”

 

Now we come to the two Australians who prevailed from round one, Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic.

Hewitt, 2002 Wimbledon champion, has been on the decline for a while now and entered the tournament ranked 70th in the world. However the 32-year-old pulled out a vintage performance to stroll past Swiss number 2 Stanislas Wawrinka in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.

Wawrinka, on the back of reaching the French Open quarter finals, will have been looking to consolidate his position in the top 10 of the ATP rankings with a decent showing in the third Grand Slam of the year.

However he couldn’t take his chances and ultimately paid the price as Hewitt advanced into the second round to face German Dustin Brown (more on him later), not him.

Bernard Tomic is never usually far from controversy, and this year is no different. Bernard’s father, John Tomic is on an assault charge after headbutting Thomas Drouet, Tomic’s hitting partner, and Wimbledon organisers have subsequently banned him from attending the tournament.

Tomic did not let this phase him in his first round match against American Sam Querrey though, as he came through a marathon match 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3.

The Australian overcame dizziness and had to be medically evaluated during the 4th set, but eventually prevailed after more than two and a half hours.

 

Three Serbians qualified for Wimbledon this year: world number 1 Novak Djokovic, world number 14 Janko Tipsarevic and world number 44 Viktor Troicki.

As luck would have it, the latter two faced off against each other in the first round, with Troicki coming out on top 6-3, 6-4, 7-6, in just under two hours. 

Former top 10 player Tipsarevic never seemed to trouble his fellow countryman as he failed to record a single break point and only served 3 aces.

 

The remaining two upsets both involved players quite well known to the tennis world – on both sides of the court.

Frenchman Gilles Simon, seeded 19th, fell to Spain’s Feliciano Lopez in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6. Simon offered little resistance, and could not record a single break point opportunity in over two hours of play.

The final match, which has to be considered less of an upset due to the two players, Jurgen Melzer of Austria and Fabio Fognini of Italy, being only six places apart in the rankings.

But a seed falling is a seed falling, and Melzer won 6-7, 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the second round and face German qualifier Julian Restier.

 

Round Two: Injuries, Eastern Europeans, French Fifty-Fifty

Lower body injuries plagued the third day of Wimbledon with seven injuries occurring throughout the day, the most ever in a single day of a Grand Slam in the Open era.

Three of these injuries were to seeded players, causing them to withdraw from the tournament. Steve Darcis, aforementioned conqueror of Nadal, also had to withdraw due to a shoulder injury he sustained diving for a ball during his first round victory.

10th seed Marin Cilic also had to pull out before he could start his match, against Kenny de Schepper of France, due to a left knee injury.

Big-serving American John Isner, seeded 18th, suffered the same injury as Cilic, and had to retire after just two games against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

The final injury of the day happened to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Frenchman, seeded 6th, was 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 down against Latvian Ernests Gulbis when he was forced to withdraw due to a left leg injury

 

Now to the actual shocks of the round, rather than more forced ones.

 

Defending champion Roger Federer had reached the quarter finals, at the minimum, in his last 36 grand slams. For nine years, no one had been able to beat the great man prior to the quarter finals.

Sergiy Stakhovsky was out to stop him.

The Ukrainian, ranked 116th in the world, had only progressed past the first round once before at Wimbledon. He has never got past the third round at a Grand Slam.

But, in a similar way to Darcis, he produced the performance of his life to beat Federer 6-7, 7-6, 7-5, 7-6 and cause an upset that could rival Nadal’s loss as the most shocking in Wimbledon’s history.

Just how close the game was can be highlighted by the simple fact that the first break of service was in the 38th game of the match, and there were only two more breaks of service after that.

Everything that Federer, seven-time Wimbledon champion, threw at Stakhovsky was matched, and sometimes bettered, by the Ukrainian. Wearing his trademark headband, the Swiss legend had plenty of chances to pull away, but Stakhovsky stood firm and held out for the greatest win of his career.

 

The final seeded player to fall was Frenchman Julien Benneteau, ranked 31st. He lost in straight sets to Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4. Verdasco could have made the win even more convincing if he had managed to convert more than 2 of his 9 break points, but he marches on nonetheless and faces Gulbis in the 3rd round.

 

Whilst he didn’t beat a seeded player, Dustin Brown beating Lleyton Hewitt is still a massive upset and continues to throw the bracket wide open.

Brown, from Germany, is ranked 189th in the world and with his victory today, he won more than a tenth of his career prize money. His big serves and almost ‘Devil May Care’ attitude bamboozled the former World number 1 and he took the match 6-4 6-4 6-7 6-2.

 

Lets hope tomorrow throws up more shocking results and some more fantastic tennis. After the complete oddity of today’s results, anything is possible. 

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