Wim­ble­don’s Week 2 be­gins with just an­other manic Mon­day

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY CHUCK CULPEP­PER

wim­ble­don, eng­land — A doozy of a Mon­day awaits at Wim­ble­don. It’s packed enough with ap­par­ent good­ies that you could yearn to clone your­self to ap­pear at five courts and per­haps, the way things are go­ing here, ac­quire five sun­burns.

Even ab­sent the star shine and his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of mega-cham­pion Ser­ena Wil­liams, away on her preg­nancy hia­tus, the women’s fi­nal 16 man­aged to churn out no fewer than seven boffo matchups out of eight. Then the men’s side went and re­tained for the second week, for the first time since 2014 and only the second since 2011, its en­tire, four-headed, 126-year-old, Fed­erer-Nadal-Djokovic-Mur­ray gi­ant, which has gob­bled up ev­ery sin­gle one of the past 14 Wim­ble­dons, with plu­ral ti­tles for all four.

“We just seem to not go any­where,” Roger Fed­erer said of the four play­ers aged 35, 31, 30 and 30.

In this Mon­day mix to fol­low the tra­di­tional Sun­day off, Amer­i­can Sam Querrey could achieve a wor­thy turn of self-dep­re­ca­tion. He went out Satur­day and played one game, hav­ing walked out in dark­ness Fri­day night with a 6-5 lead in the fifth set against 10thranked Jo-Wil­fried Tsonga. When Querrey cracked a swell back­hand win­ner up the line and ex­haled at two Tsonga er­rors that closed the thing at 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 7-5, he had earned a fourth-round match with South African Kevin An­der­son, slated for the sideshow at Court No. 18.

“I’m sure it’s not the top of ev­ery­one’s list as far as matches to get on Mon­day,” grinned the 28th-ranked Querrey, who felled then-No. 1 No­vak Djokovic at Wim­ble­don last year and pretty much ru­ined Djokovic’s life from there.

Djokovic lost in the U.S. Open fi­nal, the Aus­tralian Open second round and the French Open quar­ter­fi­nals to be­come, of course, an ab­ject fail­ure at life with only 12 Grand Slam ti­tles and a ca­reer Grand Slam. But if you look here, Djokovic has won

all seven of his sets and might have won nine had Martin Kl­izan not re­tired early in the first round. He has had a dif­fer­ent sort of look about him, un­less that’s an il­lu­sion from ex­ces­sive sun­light.

“Ob­vi­ously when you’re play­ing well, feel­ing well, you’re even more, I guess, mo­ti­vated, pas­sion­ate, to see how far it can take you,” Djokovic said Satur­day af­ter shoo­ing Ernests Gulbis, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (7-2).

Fed­erer has lost none of his seven sets (also with a re­tire­ment tucked in there) and showed some patented art­work via a 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, 6-4 pas­sage through vet­eran Mis­cha Zverev, while Rafael Nadal has lost none of his nine and, count­ing the French Open, has won 28 sets in a row (in­clud­ing all 19 at the French, with a re­tire­ment tucked in there). De­fend­ing cham­pion Andy Mur­ray has been a dud by con­trast, win­ning merely nine of 10 sets, los­ing one to Fabio Fognini.

“I’m not that sur­prised,” said Fed­erer, who sel­dom seems that sur­prised, “be­cause I thought that ev­ery­body this week was go­ing to find their form, es­pe­cially speak­ing about Andy and No­vak. So I thought they did it very well. With me, I hoped I was go­ing to be there [af­ter a spring­time hia­tus]. Whereas with Rafa’s con­fi­dence, I thought he was also go­ing to be there.”

Fed­erer said all this through the ves­tiges of a head cold that might have ex­ceeded his draw for dif­fi­culty. The con­ver­sa­tion turned to whether he had used “parac­eta­mol,” and he said, “How many times I have to sneeze, you don’t want to know that stuff.”

(Some of his de­voted fans prob­a­bly do.)

Be­yond even that, the men have up­wardly mo­bile youth at No. 8 (Do­minic Thiem) and No. 12 (Alexan­der Zverev), still go­ing here, so there’s barely even room to men­tion that Zverev will play No. 7 Mi­los Raonic, seen here last year merely in the fi­nal.

But if four Hall of Famers still run­ning around spryly at age 126 is one way to run a sport, a hodge­podge of hopes is an­other. So be­hold the women’s fi­nal 16. Only Venus Wil­liams, 37, has won this cham­pi­onship be­fore (five times). Con­cern­ing her dev­as­tat­ing off-court mat­ter over which she wept dur­ing her first news con­fer­ence here, the Palm Beach Gar­dens (Fla.) po­lice just re­scinded their ini­tial judg­ment that she was at fault June 9 in the crash that killed a pas­sen­ger in the other car, with video show­ing she law­fully en­tered the in­ter­sec­tion in­volved.

Cen­tre Court will march in Wil­liams (against Ana Kon­juh, the 19-year-old Croa­t­ian who reached the 2016 U.S. Open quar­ter­fi­nals), then Mur­ray (against 46th-ranked Benoit Paire of France), then Fed­erer (against No. 11 Grigor Dim­itrov).

Across the way, Court No. 1 will have the Bri­tish No. 1 and world No. 7 Jo­hanna Konta (against France’s on­rush­ing Caro­line Gar­cia), then Nadal (against No. 26 Gilles Muller of Lux­em­bourg), then Djokovic (against Adrian Man­nar­ino of France, the low­est-ranked male player left at No. 51).

The women’s matches alone crowd the brain, in­clud­ing with their di­ver­sity of home­lands. When No. 1 An­gelique Ker­ber of Ger­many plays No. 15 Gar­bine Mugu­ruza of Spain, that will fea­ture the past two Wim­ble­don run­ners-up and the win­ners of three of the past six Grand Slams. It also will have Ker­ber, who squeaked there through South Carolinian Shelby Rogers. The Amer­i­can nearly added to her re­cent-years col­lec­tion of up­sets in a 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 loss, af­ter which Ker­ber said, “She was hit­ting the balls very hard.”

When No. 8 Svet­lana Kuznetsova of Rus­sia plays No. 10 Ag­nieszka Rad­wan­ska of Poland, that will brim with two top-rung main­stays who have played 106 Grand Slams be­tween them. Je­lena Ostapenko, the Lat­vian who just won the French Open stun­ningly at 19, will play Ukrainian Elina Svi­tolina, who has made her way to No. 5 in the world. And the match be­tween No. 2 Si­mona Halep of Ro­ma­nia and two-time Grand Slam cham­pion Vic­to­ria Azarenka, at No. 683 while work­ing her way back af­ter giv­ing birth, might be the in­trigue leader.

When No. 6 Caro­line Woz­ni­acki, the for­mer No. 1 player who hasn’t won a Grand Slam but has reached two fi­nals, four semifi- nals and three quar­ter­fi­nals, finds an­other fourth round, she finds an­other Amer­i­can. That’s CoCo Van­deweghe, the Cal­i­for­nian who is 25 in both age and ranking and who has reached three straight Wim­ble­don fourth rounds, a whop­ping con­sis­tency in a crowded women’s era.

“In the women’s game, there are more up­sets along the way with the seeded play­ers be­cause I think there is more depth in the 20s to 30s to 40s,” Van­deweghe said. “There is some very solid depth of play­ers that can make an im­pact against a top player. I mean, I’m an ex­am­ple of that my­self.”

Some­how, amid such abun­dance, Fed­erer did not re­al­ize that Wim­ble­don has a peer­less tra­di­tion of hav­ing all 32 male and fe­male play­ers go on the same Mon­day. With the clas­sic obliv­i­ous­ness of a fo­cused player, he said, “I know the men all shift to the same day,” he said. “But I don’t know, women’s matches as well?” (Yes.) “I would be happy to be a fan,” he con­cluded.

OLI SCARFF/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE VIA GETTY IMAGES

Seven-time Wim­ble­don cham­pion Roger Fed­erer, re­turn­ing against Mis­cha Zverev on Satur­day dur­ing his 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, 6-4 vic­tory, did not lose a set in the first week.

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