Catching up with key players from 2013 Wimbledon's Wacky Wednesday
Last year, Wimbledon packed a tournament’s worth of news into one day. The first Wednesday of the grass-court major included a record seven injury withdrawals/retirements in singles and seven former No. 1s who departed, most notably defending champion and seven-time winner Roger Federer.
“This is easily the craziest day of tennis I have ever seen. And I have been doing this for 60 years,” said coach Nick Bollettieri, who was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame this year.
Here’s a look back at many of the central figures from Wacky Wednesday and what they’ve done since:
Wacky Wednesday: What better way to punctuate a stunning day than by having a 27-year-old journeyman with zero top-10 victories in 20 attempts put on a grass-court clinic against the master of the surface? The 27-year-old Ukrainian, ranked No. 116, shocked Federer 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) in the second round behind a persistent serve-and-volley game and 72 winners, ending the Swiss’ record Grand Slam quarterfinals streak at 36.
“When you come here, on the cover of the Wimbledon book is Roger Federer,” Stakhovsky said afterward. “You’re playing the guy and then you’re playing his legend, which is following him because he won it seven times. … You’re playing two of them. When you’re beating one, you still have the other one who is pressing you. You’re saying, ‘Am I about to beat him? Is it possible?’”
Later, he gave the quote of the tournament: “Right now, I can definitely tell my grandkids [that] I kicked the butt of Roger Federer.”
The aftermath: Stakhovsky didn’t build on his milestone victory, as he lost to No. 37 Jurgen Melzer in the third round. In fact, after defeating Federer, Stakhovsky lost six consecutive matches at the ATP Tour level (including qualifying), though he did win a Challenger event in Russia during that stretch. This year he’s raised his ranking to No. 89, thanks largely to a semifinal appearance at the Sydney International in January.
“I definitely made a lot of mistakes after my match with Roger,” Stakhovsky told the ATP’s website. “Too much press, too much stress about everything. It took a lot of energy out of me and maybe that’s the reason why I lost. But I definitely wouldn’t trade that win for anything.”
Wacky Wednesday: Two days earlier, the 135th-ranked Darcis had stunned two-time champion Rafael Nadal 7-6 (4), 7-6 (8), 6-4. Darcis stopped Nadal’s 22-match winning streak and handed the Spaniard — fresh off his eighth French Open title — his first opening-round loss at a Slam in 35 matches. The 29-year-old Belgian also became the lowest-ranked player to beat Nadal since 2006. Darcis never came out for an encore, though: He withdrew on Wednesday because of pain in his right shoulder, an injury he said he sustained during the first set against Nadal.
The aftermath: Darcis hasn’t played a tour-level match since Wimbledon. He underwent shoulder surgery in October and has competed in one tournament this year, a Futures event in early June. Ranked No. 363, Darcis needed a wild card to get into Wimbledon qualifying, where he lost to Daniel Brands 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 on Tuesday.
Michelle Larcher de Brito
Wacky Wednesday: The 20-year-old qualifier from Portugal sent 2004 champion Maria Sharapova tumbling out in the second round 6-3, 6-4. An exasperated Sharapova fell a number of times — the quality of the turf was a major talking point during the first week — but Larcher de Brito also played the type of aggressive, effective tennis that belied her No. 131 ranking. (Sharapova played only one more match the rest of the year before shutting down her season with a right shoulder injury.)
The aftermath: The victory seemed like a potential turning point for the highly touted Bolletieri prodigy, who had climbed to No. 79 as a 16-year-old in 2009, but she failed to back it up. She lost her next match, to No. 104 Karin Knapp, in straight sets, and has won just one tour-level main-draw match in the last 12 months. She is ranked No. 104.
Wacky Wednesday: I can still hear the scream Azarenka let out when she lost her footing and her right knee buckled in her first-round match against Maria Joao Koehler on Monday. The No. 2 seed hobbled through a 6-1, 6-2 victory, but two days later she withdrew before meeting Flavia Pennetta. Azarenka and Sharapova were the top two seeds in the bottom half of the draw, from where No. 15 Marion Bartoli emerged to win the title.
The aftermath: Azarenka rebounded well after the injury, making the final of the Southern California Open in her comeback tournament, beating Serena Williams to win the Western & Southern Open and taking Williams to three sets in the U.S. Open final. But it’s been all downhill from there. The former No. 1 struggled with injuries and fatigue during the fall, winning just one match in three tournaments, and a left foot injury has limited her to four events in 2014. She played her first match in three months this week, a three-set loss to Camila Giorgi at the Aegon International, and is ranked No. 8, her lowest position since 2011.
Wacky Wednesday: The Frenchman retired from his second-round match against Ernests Gulbis with a left knee injury, three weeks after a career-best semifinal run at Roland Garros. Tsonga, the sixth seed and a semifinalist in 2011 and ’12, could have played Andy Murray in the quarterfinals.
The aftermath: He’s been in a tailspin. Tsonga hasn’t beaten a top-10 player since the 2013 French Open and he’s slipped to a three-year low of No. 17.
Wacky Wednesday: Amid all the chaos, no one batted an eye when the 10th-seeded Cilic withdrew before his second-round match against Kenny de Schepper, citing a left knee injury that he said had plagued him for a couple of weeks. “I would say very black day,” Cilic said, addressing the rash of withdrawals and retirements on Wednesday. One month later, reports surfaced that Cilic had pulled out of Wimbledon after being notified of an anti-doping violation.
The aftermath: Cilic had his nine-month suspension reduced to four, and he returned at the Paris Masters in October. He won two ATP 250 titles early this year, pushing his ranking back into the top 30, but has made the quarterfinals only once in his last eight tournaments.
Wacky Wednesday: Isner’s section of the draw looked remarkably soft after the early upsets of Nadal and Stan Wawrinka, but he felt pain in his left knee when he landed on a serve just three points into his second-round match against No. 111 Adrian Mannarino. The American No. 1 retired at 1-1. While Mannarino went on to lose to surprise quarterfinalist Lukasz Kubot in the fourth round, Isner was left to lament another missed opportunity at a Slam. “It’s tough to think about,” he said. “I had a good chance to go pretty far here.”
The aftermath: The disappointment didn’t linger for Isner, who won a title and reached two other finals during the U.S. summer hard-court swing before a so-so fall finish. A right ankle injury prompted another retirement from a Slam, the 2014 Australian Open first round, but Isner cracked the top 10 in March and has been No. 11 for more than a month.