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  • Five thoughts on Day 2 action at Wimbledon 2017 on the Fourth of July.
By Jon Wertheim
July 04, 2017

LONDON – Sports has always had a weird relationship with July 4. The owners Al Davis and George Steinbrenner—our King George—were both born on July Fourth. We’ve seen no-hitters and Grand Slams on July 4. It was on the Fourth that No. 4, Lou Gehrig, declared himself the luckiest man alive.

But the Fourth is particularly fraught in tennis: the date coincides with Wimbledon—the signature event in the country that triggered the holiday in the first place. It was 36 years ago to the day that John McEnroe won his first singles title at Wimbledon. This prompted Bud Collins approached the curly-haired American following the match that July 4, 1981, and gush: “Stuck a feather in his cap and called it McEnroe-ni!”

On July 4, 1993, Wimbledon offered an All-American final, Pete Sampras beating Jim Courier. In 1999, Sampras beat Andre Agassi to win the men’s title. And another American, Lindsay Davenport, won the women’s title, beating Steffi Graf of all people.

Andy Murray, Venus Williams cope with physical, emotional troubles at Wimbledon

Pam Shriver was born on July 4. So was Jill Craybas. And young American Ernesto Escobedo, who turned 21 and lost his first round match on Tuesday. Even the date, 7-4, has a tennis ring—sounds like tiebreaker score, doesn't it?

Thomas Jefferson died on July 4—amazingly, fifty years to the day after we adopted the Declaration of Independence. Later that same day, John Adams died. It was Adams who wrote that July Fourth “should be celebrated with shows, games and sports."

We do just that. And so it is that—from England of all places—we wish everyone a happy holiday. 

Here are some thoughts on Day 2 at the All England Club.

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Roger Federer speaks often about optimizing his energy and, at age 35, spending no more time on court than necessary. Even by his standards, this was an easy day at the office.

No. 3-seed Federer needed only 43 minutes to advance when his opponent, Alexandr Dolgopolov retired at 6-2, 3-0 with a foot injury on Tuesday. Federer won his 85th career match at Wimbledon, surpassing Jimmy Connors. He served the 10,000th ace of his career. He advanced to round two with minimum wear and tear.

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Short as it was, Roger Federer’s shift lasted longer than that of Novak Djokovic.

The three-time champion was through in 40 minutes when his opponent, Martin Klizan, retired on account of a calf injury. Given his erratic results, and two new coaches (Andre Agassi and Mario Ancic) Djokovic likely wanted a longer workout.

Recall the 2016 U.S. Open: Djokovic reached the finals but won only three complete matches, which impacted his rhythms. Still for as often as the Big Four come in for praise, here’s still another element of their collective: durability. That was on vivid display today.

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You know who had a rough day? Centre Court ticketholders. Only one of the first three matches played to completion. (Caroline Wozniacki vs. Timea Babos was thrown in at the last minute.) As of Tuesday, there were seven retirements in the men's draw (and one in the women's). You can hardly blame the physically compromised players for remaining in the draw. The first round money—roughly $50,000—is nothing to sneeze at.

But let’s hope that the ATP’s idea sticks: Eligible players get first round money no matter what. Lucky losers get the spot in the draw; only if they win, do they get the money and points. The injured players get their full wage scale. The lucky losers have a chance at a big payday. The fans get healthy players. Tournaments don’t have to pay a dime more.

• With Serena Williams absent, which woman would christen Centre Court at 1 p.m., as is tradition? Angelique Kerber, last year’s runner-up. Kerber is also the top seed and while she’s no one’s favorite, she played a fine match on Tuesday, beating American qualifier Irina Falconi. The player who is the favorite, Karolina Pliskova, won as well, taking out Evgeniya Rodina in straight sets.

Snapshots from Day 2