LONDON – We have braids, bras, Beats and Becker. We have feuding Aussies, a fading Spaniard and a women’s draw upside down and a headband inside out. And, yes, perhaps most important, we still have a Grand Slam contender in Serena Williams—if barely. It was a cracking Week One at Wimbledon. Herewith, midterm grades, distributed on the (Sam) Groth curve.
The Short List Favorites
Notwithstanding Serena Williams—whose new m.o. is to drop sets and win in the third—the faves all looked sharp. Djokovic? Wawrinka? Sharapova? Venus? Not a set dropped among the lot of ‘em.
WTA triple digit rankings
Olga Govortsova (No.122) is still in the draw. Jana Cepelova (No. 106) beat No. 3 Simona Halep. Bethanie Mattek Sands (No. 158) qualified and took out Ana Ivanovic. Ying Ying Duan (No. 117) qualified and beat Genie Bouchard. While we’re here, props to Denis Kudla (No. 105), the last remaining ‘Merican man.
With a titanic serve and some nice networking skills, the Californian cruised into round four—beating a pair of seeds along the way—her deepest run at a major.
The tradition and historic touches are lovely. But, more practically, the website works, the app works, the social media presence is robust, the people behind the scenes are competent and progressive-thinking in the extreme. It’s really to be admired how this august brand rooted in history has modernized.
After a disappointing French Open, former No. 1 is into Week Two. In her third rounder against Camila Giorgi, she committed three unforced errors.
Old Mates and young mates
Lleyton Hewitt distinguished himself in his last Wimbledon match in singles while his play in doubles with Thanasi Kokkinakis has been terrific. And Nick Kyrgios animates the cliché: “It ain’t bragging if you back it up.”
The best in tennis, all 32 remaining singles players in action. Would suggest that all major events have this.
A tremendous performance against Nadal. A tremendously-likable figure. But what a shame his level dropped off in his next match against Viktor Troicki. How often do we see this? An unsung player scores a big upset and then we have a regression to the mean. So hard to back up a big win.
A strong effort to come within a few points of beating Serena for what would have been a life-changing victory. (A British player thwarting a Grand Slam champion at Wimbledon.) But her inability to close is something she won’t soon forget.
Ran out of magic against Milos Raonic, but a fine return for a guy who hasn't played in a year. (Never mind that said guy is 37 years old.)
The American has yet to play her best tennis on the grass—or anything close to it. But she has crafted escape routes, which can build just as much confidence as winning with ease. And her draw could scarcely have unfolded more benignly.
Played well for two matches, lost to Djokovic (no shame there) and then unloaded on Tennis Australia is the most bizarre press conference of the week. His rant wasn’t particularly sympathetic. And this guy picking a fight with Pat Rafter in the court of public opinion is an epic mismatch. But you have to reserve for him a shard of credit for speaking so candidly and emotionally and sticking up for his little sister.
The ATP’s Young Guns
Grigor Dimitrov, Kei Kishikori and Milos Raonic—the troika the ATP is promoting as the successors to the Big Four—each won a round, but none survived the third round.
He could quit tomorrow and is assured of going down as an all-time great. But his slow fade continues with a second-round loss to Dustin Brown, the fourth year he left in disappointingly early fashion here.
A sophomore slump that has grown horns and tail. A finalist in 2014, Bouchard falls in round one, exiling her from the top 20. This, simply, is ugly.
While not on par with Bouchard’s decline, Halep came as the third seed and left with another mystifying early loss.
The all-white dress code
We thought we’d hit rock bottom when Federer was admonished for wearing a hint of orange on the bottom of his feet. But the reductio ad absurdum came on Friday when Kyrgios was forced to turn his headband inside out. It was an official Wimbledon headband; which means the tournament’s licensed attire does meet its own standards.
Eyewitness News at Noon