LONDON – Manic Monday, Magic Monday. Murray Monday. A Sweet 16 party. It’s the best day in tennis, all sixteen fourth round matches from Wimbledon held in a single session. Herewith a one-sentence dispatch from each….
Playing alternately extravagant and pragmatic tennis, Roger Federer took another step toward another Wimbledon, outclassing Steve Johnson, whose USC coach deserves special mention for having flown in just in time to watch his former charge play on Centre Court.
After two meh matches here, Serena Williams dazzled for the next two, including Monday’s 76-minute, 14-ace, give-up-five-points-in-the-second-set 7-5, 6-0 rout of Svetlana Kuznetsova, who beat Serena earlier this year.
Sam Querrey showed great poise and confidence beating Novak Djokovic; he showed still more, backing it up by beating Nicolas Mahut in straight sets.
The oldest player in the draw is also one of the contender-iest, as Venus Williams reaches the quarters with a solid defeat of Carla Suarez Navarro.
Up a set and a break, Madison Keys suffered through a rough patch and some cramping and fell in three sets to Simona Halep, who scored one of her better wins at a major in recent memory.
CoCo Vandeweghe picked a lousy time to play her worst match in a long time, losing a winnable match to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who is being coach by Dieter Kindlmann, formerly the hitting partner for Maria Sharapova.
Andy Murray played his first match ever at a major as the highest remaining seed and made quick and surprisingly easy work of Nick Kyrgios, facing ZERO break points and slicing/dicing the Aussie in straight sets.
Kei Nishikori’s injury list—which could be serialized—grew sadly longer, as he is bothered by a rib injury and, down 1-6, 1-5, retired against Marin Cilic, a disappointing rematch of their 2014 U.S. Open final.
In a battle of lefties, Angelique Kerber—going for her second major of 2016—has little trouble against Misaki Doi, the first Japanese woman in more than a decade to reach round four.
Milos Raonic lost the first two sets against crafty David Goffin, but staged the first 0-2 comeback of his career and advanced to the Great Eight.
Best know for winning a golden set at Wimbledon, Yaroslava Shvedova will augment her legacy if she can continue the tennis she displayed today, beating Lucie Safarova 6-2, 6-4.
The smallest player in the draw, Dominika Cibulkova, brought the action like few other players, smoking 56 winners (to 39 unforced errors) in an insta-classic three-hour, three-set win over Aga Radwanska, our match of the day, if not year.
When friends and doubles partners compete, it often makes for awkward tennis and so it was for Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova who battled for almost three hours before Vesnina prevailed 9-7 in the third.
Richard Gasquet, a semifinalist last year, tweaked his back early in the match and retired against friend and countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who carried Gasquet’s bags for him as they left the court.
Despite never having won a grass court match coming into this event, Lucas Pouille outfought Bernard Tomic and reached his first major quarter, winning in five sets.
In the last match of a special day, Jiri Vesely saved five match points, winning a fourth-set tiebreaker 11-9 to level his match against countryman Tomas Berdych at two sets all, before the match was suspended for darkness.
Have a question or comment for Jon? Email him at email@example.com or tweet him @jon_wertheim.
Thanks for responding to my question last week about American tennis. I am not a globalist, though, I want to root for someone from our country....no matter how much social media we have so I'm ecstatic we just saw Querrey knock off Djoker...wow!!
—Tory Kaufmann, Quincy, Ill.
• Wow is right. If I asked, “Which player would end Novak Djokovic’s run?” and give you 50 guesses, would Sam Querrey make your top 20? Top 50? The other day Djokovic was asked about Marcus Willis and said, “Hey, it’s sports; anything can happen.” That was a bit of prescience.
Do you think we can finally get some love for the all-time great Rod Laver who won TWO calendar year Grand Slams despite not being able to play Grand Slam tournaments from 1963 to 1968 during which he was at his peak? Serena and Novak have shown us just how tough the Grand Slam mental battle is as they both crashed out in losses to much lower ranked players when the pressure was on. Greatest of all time: Rod Laver the Rockhampton Rocket.
• Fair enough. In a weird way, you might say that Serena was a winner on Saturday. The DjokoLoss, as we’ve taken to calling it, put her 2015 in perspective, normalizing the tendency for even the best players to tighten. By extension, it makes Laver’s feat(s) all the more impressive.
That Lucas Pouille pick is looking pretty inspired right about now, huh!
—Helen of Philadelphia
• Thanks. But, again, these picks are meant in fun. Those picking Djokovic and Muguruza ought not to be considered morons. Those tipping Cibulkova and Querrey aren't necessarily the basis for Sheldon, Leonard and Raj.
If anybody or anything deserved your first grade of an F (and possibly a G), it is the rain so far. And for that, your Midterm Grades Column only achieves an A-.
• We’re grading on the Ole Miss Athletic Department curve. We have gentlemen C’s and don’t go lower.
• Today’s reader rant: Jeffrey Staggs, Phnom Penh, Cambodia by way of Baltimore: I love watching tennis, and I love reading your writing about tennis. I live in Cambodia, and the studio analyst I see for Fox is Marion Bartoli. She's fantastic, because she's so unrehearsed. They played a clip of Kyrgios acting like a complete jackass at a press conference. They went back to the studio, where the host asked Bartoli for her thoughts. She didn't hide her exasperation. "We've already talked too much about him,” she said. She wondered why we spend so much time talking about a guy who hasn't won anything, and pointed out that Federer and Nadal have 31 Slams between them and a combined zero incidents of boorish behavior. He's not colorful, or passionate, or mercurial. Let me know when he wins something. In the meantime, can we talk about tennis?
Also, allow me to go into "get off my lawn mode" and grumble about how technologically advanced rackets have ruined the game. A guy with a serve and nothing else should not be able to beat the greatest player in the world. Which is more fun to watch, some big oaf blasting serves and stumbling around the court like The Mummy, or Dustin Brown's endless bag of tricks? (That's a rhetorical question.) In the days of wooden rackets, there was more game in the game. End of rant.