Three Stars: Day 6

Saturday June 25th, 2011

At 18, Bernard Tomic (above) became the youngest man in 21 years to reach the last 16 at Wimbledon with Saturday's upset of Robin Soderling. (AP)

WIMBLEDON, England — A look at three individuals who distinguished themselves as Wimbledon's first week came to a close:

1. Bernard Tomic. Just when Robin Soderling looked like a major threat, coming from two sets down to defeat the feisty Lleyton Hewitt, here came the 18-year-old Tomic, perhaps annnouncing his arrival as a big-time threat Saturday with a 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 win over fifth-ranked Robin Soderling. Tomic is certainly no mystery in the tennis world. At 16, he became the youngest man ever to win a match at the Australian Open (his homeland, although he was born in Germany to Croatian parents). He has a funky service motion and loves to shift strategy in mid-match, saying, "My strength is that I can find players' weaknesses really quickly. That's what I've always been good at." He found Soderling's early on, and never let up.

2. Mardy Fish. It was a somewhat unsatisfying victory, Robin Haase retiring with an injury in the fourth set, but Fish could use a break: he's carrying the hopes of American men's tennis by himself these days. He was the only U.S. man to reach the third round at Roland Garros, and now he's flying solo into Wimbledon's fourth round. "I appreciate things so much more now," Fish said of his career resurrection, launched last year thanks to hard work and a strict diet. "When I was 22 and played in the (2004) Davis Cup final, I had no understanding of where I was at. The years went on, and I was like one of those rookies who wins the Super Bowl in his first year, and thinks it's easy, and he never goes back. I feel like I'm maximizing my talent now. I sleep a lot better than I used to, just knowing I'm doing everything I can to reach my career goals." 3. Venus Williams. We'll see her Monday in the fourth round against Tsvetana Pironkova (who knocked Venus out of last year's Wimbledon), but she made a fine off-the-court statement with regard to the growing controversy about court placement. Serena lodged a complaint about being stuck on Court 2, and Caroline Wozniacki added some fuel to the argument on Friday, and there's no doubt that Wimbledon favors men's matches on its Centre Court program -- now and throughout the past. But it's not as if players are being farmed out to Scotland. Said Venus: "I think Court 2 is a solid court." Good for her.

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