Saturday June 27th, 2009

Rafael Nadal, the defending champion, stayed away from Wimbledon. Which gives him something in common with the rain. You remember, the Wimbledon rain, right? Wet stuff ... fell from the sky ... constantly disrupted play. The only umbrellas unfurled last week were used to repel the sun. And that may have been the biggest upset of Week 1. Herewith, our midterm grades:

The faves: The Williams sisters, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic cruise into Week 2. ... Melanie Oudin: Let the hype begin. Seventeen-year-old from Atlanta played mature, solid tennis to go from the qualifying draw to round four, upsetting former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic along the way. We try to be stingy with the hype, but there's a lot to like here. ... Battle-scarred vets: Tommy Haas and Lleyton Hewitt show there's still some petrol left in the tank, reaching round four. ... Lucky losers: Three make the most of the opportunity and win first round matches -- Karol Beck, Pablo Cuevas and Thiago Alves, the first tennis player to share a name with a UFC star. ... Lucky winner: Virginie Razzano reaches round four winning only one match outright as two of her opponent retire/withdraw/.

Kimiko Date Krumm: What a well-deserved wild card. At the ripe age of 38, former top five player takes a set off of Caroline Wozniacki in a dignified first-round loss. ... Julien Bennetteau: French veteran injured his knee, deep in the match against Djokovic. Once it was determined there was no structural damage, he limped through the last few points, letting his opponent win outright, not by retirement. That, friends, is honorable. And, as one of you noted: "How ironic that he did it against the one elite player who is notorious for denying that courtesy to others. Let's hope Mr. Djokovic was paying attention in class." ... Wimbledon upgrades: In no small part because of the renovations, attendance is on pace to hit record levels; but now that hundreds of millions have been spent on the roof, maybe it could rain.

Marat Safin: Not much of an effort in first-round loss to Jesse Levine, the final Wimbledon of an erratic career. But admit it: you're going to miss the big lug. (And, even more so, for another player making final Wimbledon appearance, Fabrice Santoro.) ... British contingent: OK, only Murray was left after two rounds. But the pressure these kids are under is brutal. And of the 10 British players to lose, only one did do to an opponent with a lower ranking.

James Blake: Another Slam, another disappointment, this time a straight set loss to Andreas Seppi. On the other hand, nice doubles play alongside Mardy Fish. ... Svetlana Kuznetsova: French Open champ downplays her chances before the tournament and then fulfills the prophecy with a straight-set loss to Sabine Lisicki. ... Maria Sharapova: Especially after she showed signs of life in Paris, her second-round loss to Gisela Dulko -- no one's grass court expert -- was a disappointment. ... Juan Martin del Potro: He may win Slams one day; but he's a long way from doing so at Wimbledon. Fifth seed falls quietly to Hewitt in round two. ... Grunting: Perception has become reality. Time to enforce a ban.

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