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Manic Monday, with rain/wind, Delays 10 Men, Sends Women into Quarters

Sharapova Upset; Serena Pushed to Limit (again); Kvitova Tested; Roger Struggling


July 02, 2012 | 10:01 PM

Last year, week 1 at Wimbledon was relatively uneventful: no top seed upset, no Marathon (Isner v Mahut v.2 was a dud), no records, less drama.

Not so, 2012. Brad Hyperbole-Jargon Gilbert and others on coverage said today it was the most dramatic Week One they've seen.

But on what now seems to be deservedly called Manic Monday, a day when even the top seeds must be completely in form if they are to contend for the title, there's no time to put the significant upsets of the first week into perspective - there's enough to deal with today, and 5 men's matches were carried over to tomorrow (two didn't start, and three are to be continued).

Last year the 2nd Monday brought drama with simultaneous Williams defeats, Rafa struggling with Del Potro and appearing injured on Centre Court at 1 set all.

TODAY offered more than it's share of surprises, upsets and issues for the players to contend with, as well as assuring that we'll see a new finalist in the women's draw as well as the men's.

The weather - rain and win - threaded through the day's drama, puffing up skirts and fluffing hair on every court, underscoring the value of being scheduled to play on Centre Court in the 2nd week, even though the Wimbledon Referee doesn't yet seemed to have straightforward guidelines for when to close the roof. They are anything but oblivious to their climate, as Open officials have seemed to be in recent years, and are known to be obsessively concerned with the ever evolving condition of the grass. Perhaps they don't wish to be hemmed in by regulations, as the French would be, and prefer to consult the players, as they did today after the rain delays on Centre Court. The on again-off again about face they gave to Fed and Malisse today were reminiscent of the last Open, and it might have affected the outcome of the first marquee match on Centre Court:

Fed v Malisse

The first rain delay came after FED won the 1st SET 7-6 (1), finishing the breaker with a drop shot winner that left a wrong footed Malisse on his back behind the baseline (this was symbolic of how Malisse eventually went out at the hands of an artist). They left wondering if the roof would close, and given the ongoing forecast broadcasters suspected or assumed it would. It didn't, and a short time later they returned. Fed had taken an unheard of (for him) medical time-out off court in the 1st (presumably about a cranky back), but on returning he seemed more ready than Xavier, who may have readied himself for a longer break. He had squandered a break at 5-5 in the 1st by playing passively, which he continued to do in the 2nd SET, losing 6-1 in 24 minutes. He allowed Roger to take 64% of return points, an inexcusable performance for someone serving over 120 mph and getting in 73% first serves against an opponent unable to move or hit normally.

In the 3rd SET, Xavier played more offensively and with Roger clearly tiring, he was broken in the second game. X-man held on to take the set 6-4 without facing a break point.

Before the 4th SET, a second rain delay deepened the confusion. Broadcasters considered a roof closure as a foregone conclusion, but after a few minutes the players emerged with their gear ready to return. A short consultation later, they went back to the locker room. Broadcasters confirmed the decision to close the roof had been delayed but made. Wrong, again. Shortly they were back on court.

Complete score: 7-6 (1), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

Perhaps Malisse's 3rd set wasn't a convincing enough performance to him or Roger, but certainly Roger was more used to handling big match situations like this. In any event, X-man's game level dropped again and Roger seized the opportunity to break early and then closed out the set 6-3, and the match - much to the relief of his family and friends. Another 5 setter today wouldn't have helped his back, but without a full day's rest and treatment, any hope of his contending for the title would have been gone.

While there is little likelihood that Fed's back problems will disappear in two days, his ability to play effectively with a handicap were displayed against a player whose limitations allowed him to adjust his strategy. The modest drop in his service speed (about 4%) didn't alter his stats, and his cagey play allowed him to approach the net as often as he had against Benneteau with even more success (87%). By taking all the sting off his ground strokes and using more variety (he played more like Tomic, without throwing in the BIG forehand), he was more consistent and gave Malisse little pace or angle to attack against. While his quarterfinal opponent is seeded, #26 Youzhny should present Rog a familiar opponent in the quarters against whom he may also be able to adjust his game: he has beaten him all 13 times they've played (5 on grass) and with the loss of only 2 sets.

Rog was lucky not to have been one of the final matches scheduled on outside courts, which have been postponed until tomorrow:

JOKER might as well have called today a practice session on Centre Court in front of the full house, as his opponent was his Serbian team-mate Viktor Troicki, who at #34 was the highest ranked unseeded player. Viktor didn't look like a seed today, winning less than half his service points despite a 130 mph serve and taking barely 38% of total points, but a lot of that had to do with the fact that the #1 has the best return in the game and was serving almost like Pete. Say what?

- 76% 1st serves (winning 81%)

- a top speed of 130

- average speed of 119

Complete score: 6-3, 6-1, 6-3

For the privilege of meeting him next, #18 Gasquet will continue tomorrow against #31 Mayer (the Frenchman is up 1-0 in sets, 6-3, 2-1). Neither man is not likely to mount any better resistance to Joker in the quarters, which might be a problem for the defending champ if he was ever seriously challenged again in this year's event. With Roger's back hurting and no one more experienced than Murray to face him the final, his status as favorite is a lock.

The bottom half of the men's draw didn't make much progress today - two matches were suspended after a set and a few games, and two have yet to start:

- local favorite #4 Murray had the fresher start on #16 Cilic and leads 6-3, 3-1. The suspension can only help Cilic find his game, if it is not too late

- Ferrer v Del Potro will start the day on Centre Court at NOON; winner will play Murray/Cilic

- #10 Fish got the jump on #5 Tsonga and took the 1st 6-4; they stand at 1-1 in the 2nd set

- Qualifier Brian Baker will play #27 Kohlschreiber on court 12 at 11:30

The 16 WOMEN completed their EIGHT 4th round matches, which was part of the design of the schedule as they have to play their quarters tomorrow (men's quarters are Wednesday).

The UPSET of the DAY happened early on court one to #1 seed Sharapova:

#15 seed Sabine Lisicki, who lost to Maria in last year' semis, was more than a match for the #1 today, pounding serve returns from 1st and 2nd balls a la Maria, blasting 1st balls of her own at a William-esque mph (top speed 118 vs. Maria's 110), and opposing Maria's grim expression with joyful grin. The 22 year old German led 5-2 and took the first set 6-4 when Maria got hesitant in the wind while serving at 4-5 and 40-15: a deep return got Maria back-peddling and she pushed the backhand long; at 40-30 she double-faulted; at deuce Sabine hit another untouchable forehand return down-the-line, and on set point another deep return saw Maria's forehand reply fall weakly into the net.

In the 2nd SET Sabine came out even stronger after the rain delay to take another 5-2 lead, pounding serves to hold easily without facing a break point (losing but 9 points on serve) and pounding forehand return winners to limit Maria to 9 points in her 4 service games. Maria fought gamely at the end, going for her shots and scoring two to gain a 30-0 edge at 3-5, and surviving of 2 match points when Lisicki missed short forehands. On her 3rd match point, Sabine banged a 2nd serve ace up the middle. It was the same score by which Maria had defeated her last year, proving that the 22 year has emerged as a consistent threat on grass since her recovery from injuries in 2010-2011.

Complete score: 6-4, 6-3.

- #8 seed Angelique Kerber (the higher seeded German)crushed a rusty CLIJSTERS, 6-1, 6-1 in her final Wimbledon Championship appearance (presumably she'll be healthy for the Olympics there later this month). Kim has struggled with her conditioning due to abdominal injuries. Angelique, who has won more matches than any WTA tour player this year, will face Lisicki in one quarter of the top half. Complete score: 6-1, 6-1

The two Germans are playing as good a tennis as anyone thus far, and will face each in the 3rd match tomorrow on Centre Court.

SERENA survived by a hair today against the real push of a grass court threat, UNSEEDED Shvedova, a two time quarter-finalist at RG (2010, 2012). The 24 year old Russian, a two time major winner in Doubles (Wimbledon and the US Open, 2010), is emerging as singles force in her prime - there may a Stosur success story underway for her. Whether the misty conditions at 5-5 in the 3rd set (at 15 all she removed her glasses, which had fogged up) - or nerves - were the cause of her double faulting twice at 15-15, she lost momentum at the crucial time, empowering Serena to finish her in the next game - just before play would have been suspended for the rain that chased Fed and Malisse back into the clubhouse after a set.

Complete score: 6-1, 2-6, 7-5.

- #4 seed Kvitova also struggled mightily in her match, dropping the 1st set 4-6 and going toe-to-toe to 5-5 with the slicer and net rusher, #24 Schiavone. After toughing out the 2nd set 7-5, she was able to control play in the 3rd, winning 6-1, and escaping before the 2nd rain delay of the day. Complete score: 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.

The two top contenders remaining, Serena and Petra, will play tomorrow on Centre Court in the 2nd match.

- #3 seed Aggie Radwanska also cruised into a quarter of the top half, too much for the qualifier, 20 year old Camila Giorgi (#145), playing in her second WC.

Complete score: 6-2, 6-3

- #17 seed Maria Kirilenko outlasted #30 seed Shuai Peng and will face Aggie, who has twice reached the quarters here (2008, 2009). It will be Maria's first quarter final in her 9th try, and her second in a Major (Australia, 2010).

Complete score: 6-1, 6-7 (6), 6-3

Aggie and Kiri will face each other in the Lisicki-Kerber half tomorrow on Court One.

- #2 seed Azarenka needed barely 60 minutes to eliminate Ivanovic, a player who's sky high toss and long flowing strokes are unsuited to windy conditions, winning 65% of the points (61% on Ana's serve). Though Ana served only 3 doubles and had three break points in the 2nd set, she was unable to get into the match, and gave up 6 of 8 break points.

Complete score: 6-1, 6-0

- Unseeded Austrian, 37th ranked Tamira Paszek (winner last week at Eastbourne) took out the remaining seed, #21 Italian Roberta Vinci (known more as a doubles player - Roland Garros was her first major doubles title last month), winning as many points on return as on serve (63%).

Complete score: 6-2, 6-2

They will play in the third match on Court One.

SCHEDULE OF PLAY (TUESDAY)

Centre Court

12:00 PM

GENTLEMEN'S SINGLES - 4TH ROUND

David Ferrer (ESP)[7]

v

Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG)[9]

LADIES' SINGLES - QUARTERFINALS

Serena Williams (USA)[6]

v

Petra Kvitova (CZE)[4]

LADIES' SINGLES - QUARTERFINALS

Sabine Lisicki (GER)[15]

v

Angelique Kerber (GER)[8]

No. 1 Court

12:00 PM

GENTLEMEN'S SINGLES - 4TH ROUND

Andy Murray (GBR)[4]

vs

Marin Cilic (CRO)[16] To Finish 7-5 3-1

LADIES' SINGLES - QUARTERFINALS

Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)[3]

v

Maria Kirilenko (RUS)[17]

LADIES' SINGLES - QUARTERFINALS

Tamira Paszek (AUT)

v

Victoria Azarenka (BLR)[2]

No. 2 Court

11:30 AM

GENTLEMEN'S SINGLES - 4TH ROUND

Mardy Fish (USA)[10]

vs

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)[5] To Finish 6-4 1-1

GENTLEMEN'S DOUBLES - 3RD ROUND

Steve Darcis (BEL) /

Olivier Rochus(BEL)

v

Robert Lindstedt (SWE)[5] /

Horia Tecau(ROU)[5]

MIXED DOUBLES - 2ND ROUND

Mariusz Fyrstenberg (POL)[9] /

Abigail Spears(USA)[9]

v

Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) /

Yaroslava Shvedova(KAZ)

Wimbledon ay 7 (7.1.12)


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