- Jon Wertheim checks in from Wimbledon to weigh in on Bernard Tomic's fine, Serena's form and much more.
WIMBLEDON, England — Happy Fourth of July from Wimbledon. Hare are some quick thoughts on Day Four:
• Styles, they say, make fights. And contrasts make for a key component of sports. Sometimes this means lefties versus righties or offense versus defense. Today, on Centre Court, we got a different kid of contrast. Rafa Nadal and Nick Kyrgios don’t just play tennis dissimilarly; their entire modes of being could not be more different. Fans will gravitate to one or the other, but perhaps we can find common ground here: the clash makes for compelling theater. In the most dramatic and gripping second-round match you’re ever likely to see, Nadal prevailed 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6. (Ironically, coming in, Nadal had lost all five tiebreakers he’d played against Kyrgios). This match had everything: staredowns, warnings, trick shots, underhand serves….and often breathtaking tennis over three hours. With any luck, the show continues. Which is to say Kyrgios will draw on this moment and this environment the next time he feels like self-sabotaging. And Nadal, with danger averted, continues on…
• We talk about heart and head. We don’t talk enough about feet. Serena Williams has the first two body parts in abundance. But right now, she lacks movement. And until/unless that changes, she will continue to struggle. Looking, worryingly, like a player in her late 30s and unlike a 23-time Grand Slam champ, Serena dropped the first set to 133-ranked Kaja Juvan. Because she is Serena Williams, she recovered and closed out the match 2-6, 6-2, 6-4. Serena is so good—head and heart—that she doesn’t have to be at her best to win. It was the middle Saturday of the French Open that Serena was bounced by Sonia Kenin. We’ll how she fares Saturday against Julia Goerges of Germany.
• It’s not often that Roger Federer is cast as the undercard. And it’s not often that he plays somewhere other than Centre Court. Both occurred today. As Nadal prepared for battle, Federer—benefitting from his elevated seeding—faced wild card Jay Clarke on Court 1. Federer did not turn in a performance worthy of his greatest hits album, but it scarcely mattered. He beat the 20-year-old Brit, a game if unthreatening opponent, 6-1, 7-6, 6-2. Clarke’s next assignation: mixed doubles with Coco Gauff. Federer? In his quest for a ninth title, he gets France’s Lucas Pouille for a spot in Week Two.
• There are no cracks in the courts here. But there are cracks in the storyline. And this one fell through, given all the concurrent excitement. Cleveland’s Lauren Davis—who’d had a rough 18 months—lost in qualifying to fellow American Kristie Ahn. But she got a reprieve via a lucky loser spot; and to say she made the most of it would be a considerable understatement. Davis won her first match on Tuesday and today she beat the defending champion, Angie Kerber 2-6, 6-2, 6-1. Kerber is not 100 percent, bothered by lingering ankle trouble. But Davis offered a clinic in counterpunching and scored perhaps the biggest win of her career.
• Say what you will about Kyrgios and his mode of being. He is like a WPA worker, glamorizing labor, compared to his countryman Bernard Tomic. Today it was announced that Tomic would be docked £45,000—the entirety of the prize money he was entitled to—after the All England Club ruled that he "did not perform to the required professional standard.” This is highly subjective, of course, and sets a dangerous precedent. But consider this: the last time a player was triple-bageled here (Edberg d. Barry Moir) the match lasted an hour. Tomic’s loss (6-2, 6-4, 6-1) on Tuesday lasted 58 minutes.