LONDON — It is, for good reason, known as The Best of Tennis. After a day of rest, Wimbledon storms back for Manic Monday, when all 32 remaining singles player compete in the course of a single session.
Here’s a brief dispatch from each of the 16 matches, as they transpired. We’ll start with the ladies first, since they’re the ones that have to play tomorrow.
• As if to taunt her, when Dominika Cibulkova took to Court 18 promptly at 11:30 a.m., she was greeted by her image on the scoreboard and accompanying graphic:
Cibulkova was bumped from the seeding when Serena Williams was given special dispensation and seeded 25th. And playing like the scorned woman she was, Cibulkova showed fury, reaching the quarters, beating two-hands-on-both-sides Su-Wei Hsieh 6-4, 6-1.
• No. 7 Karolina Pliskova, entered the round as the lone top-10 seed. And then she wasn’t. Not just beaten but, oddly, outhit by No. 20 Kiki Bertens, she fell in straight sets. Credit Bertens for beating Venus Williams on Centre Court and then backing it up with this win over another former world No. 1. Serena Williams’s half of the draw continues yawning.
• By the time Angelique Kerber took the court for her match, she was the highest remaining seed in the women’s draw at No. 11. She did what she had to, taking out Belinda Bencic in straight sets (6-3, 7-6). A former finalist, past No. 1 and past Grand Slam winner, she figures to be Serena Williams’s best competition.
• Camila Giorgi is the answer to this question: What would it look like if a player went for a winner on EVERY shot (and hit her second serve as if it were a first serve)? When Giorgi is off, her game can resemble an EPA clean-up site. And when she’s on, she can beat anyone. For four rounds here, it’s been the latter. She rolled through Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-4 and gets Serena next because…
• Serena Williams is seeded 25th and getting closer to her 24th Slam. She had 30 winners; her opponent, Russian qualifier Evgeniya Rodina, had five. Enough said. Serena breezed into the quarters with a 6-2, 6-2 win that, in a nod to symmetry, took 62 minutes. And she’s 9-0 against the three players left in her half.
• Jelena Ostapenko may be wearing a smock, but it was all arts and crafts today. After sneaking out a first-set tiebreaker, she rolled in set two 6-0 over Belarus’ Aliaksandra Sasnovich. Remember: Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, won the Wimbledon juniors title in 2014.
• Who has the best serve in the women’s game after Serena Williams? A strong candidate: No. 13 seed Julia Goerges. The German was tied with Donna Vekic 3-3 in the first set. Vekic made two unforced errors. Goerges didn’t look back and won 6-3, 6-2, holding serve in every game and in the process reaching her first career Slam quarterfinal.
• Turmoil junkies must love this event, especially the women’s side. But No. 14 Daria Kasatkina brings organization and executive function to bear. Today she lost the first set in a tiebreak to Alison Van Uytvanck. Unrattled, she played poised tennis and rolled 6-3, 6-2 to reach her first Wimbledon quarterfinal, all but securing her entry into the top 10.
• Entering today, Roger Federer had not faced a break point in this tournament. He was down 30-40 at 5-0 in the first set. He served an ace. He won the game. His level dropped, but he still beat No. 22 Adrian Mannarino 6-0, 7-5, 6-4 and still hasn't been broken as he reaches the quarterfinals for the 16th time. (No, no player has ever won Wimbledon without losing a service game.)
• We often talk about how power is accentuated on grass. Too seldom do we talk about how grass rewards speed as well. We saw an animation of both today as No. 13 Milos Raonic faced former UCLA star Mackenzie McDonald on Court Two. Power beat speed in four competitive sets, and thus Raonic is back in the latter rounds after making the final in 2016.
• Speaking of big-serving North Americans, No. 9 John Isner spotted his teenage opponent, No. 31 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, 14 years. But experience trumped youth, 6-4, 7-6, 7-6, and Isner is now in his first Wimbledon quarterfinal, the lone American male left in the draw.
• Ernests Gulbis—once a formidable player—qualified just to get into the main draw. He then reached today by outlasting a compromised Alex Zverev in the previous round. Today, the injury bug moved to the other side of the net and bit Gulbis. Playing against No. 24 Kei Nishikori, Gulbis slipped in a third-set tiebreaker, wrenched his knee and never recovered, losing this final set 6-1. Nishikori has now reached the quarterfinals of every Slam. No small feat.
• No. 8 Kevin Anderson versus Gael Monfils featured a contrast of sensibilities, if not styles—a pragmatic talent-maximizer in Anderson versus a player whose talent and style outstrips his achievement. Substance beat style in four sets.
• Rafael Nadal took Centre Court after Federer and Serena and kept with the theme of domination. Facing another lefty, Czech Jiri Vesely, Nadal played better on every dimension and won in three sets. Given that he had to retire from the Australian Open, Nadal has not been beaten outright at a Slam since Wimbledon 2017. He has won 22 matches at majors since then.
• Why are we not talking more about Nadal's likely next opponent, No. 5 seed Juan Martin del Potro? Delpo is playing in the lost-in-the-folds match and leads Giles Simon by two sets to one on Court 2. It was an affair that garnered little fanfare, which is in keeping with his under-the-radar tournament. Delpo has 1) played well in this event—Monday he picked his spots and largely overpowered a counterpuncher, particularly in the second set, 2) been to the Wimbledon semis (2013) more recently than Nadal has and, 3) the only non-Big Three player left who has won a major. Still, he has a job to do tomorrow against a plucky player in Simon.
• Novak Djokovic closed out the session by continuing his convincing impersonation of Novak Djokovic. He may have that unsightly No. 12 next to his name, a seeding unbecoming of a three-time champion here. But he has played some of his best ball in two years. Today, he picked apart 22-year-old Russian Karen Khachanov, reading his serve, neutralizing with defense and then playing aggressively himself en route to a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory. When Djokovic is on—and filed with self-belief—he's near impossible to beat. We've forgotten that over the past 24 months. Today we were reminded.