Wimbledon’s Week 2 begins with just another manic Monday
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.
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.