Wimbledon 2012: Wackiest moments
WIMBLEDON, England -- Well then. I had a sinking suspicion this year's Wimbledon would get a little wacky, but I'm not sure anyone was prepared for the series of unexpected results we've seen so far. Here are some of the wacky moments you may have missed.
The Djoker jokes: You're the No. 1 player in the world opening up play on the first day of Wimbledon on the virgin grass on Centre Court as you begin the quest to defend your title. Sounds like a serious and somber affair, right? Not if you're Novak Djokovic. His racket sponsor has given players racket bags with stand-up legs like a golf bag, and Novak, always the man with a joke, took advantage. He pulled a golf club out of his bag and joked with the crowd. And then, as relaxed as ever, he talked about his poodle with reporters, and even survived a Maria Sharapova press conference bomb. It's always something with Novak.
Fabio's double-bow: Roger Federer is no newbie when it comes interacting with dignitaries, which served him well when Prince Charles visited Wimbledon for the first time in 42 years last week. With an actual Royal in the Royal Box, Wimbledon's rules and regulations (read: traditions) required a whole lot of bowing from the players. Federer's first round opponent, Fabio Fognini, wasn't entirely familiar with the protocol. He tried to follow Roger's lead -- walk out, put your racket bag down, turn, and bow -- and though his bow was awkward, he pulled it off. But when Roger bent down to pick up his bag to walk to the chair, Fabio thought he was bowing again so just for good measure, Fabulous Fabio bowed again. They can't possibly throw you into the Tower of London for bowing too much, can they?
You can see the bow at the beginning of the video:
Bernard Tomic gets fined: Ah the indiscretions of youth. Tomic put in a lackadaisical performance in losing in the first round David Goffin, and as he strolled to the net to shake hands he proceeded to take out his frustrations on his racket and the court, giving them both a good number of cracks. Not surprisingly, the All England Club didn't take too well to Bernie damaging the court. They fined him $2,500, the largest fine issued by the AELTC at the tournament so far, and they pulled him aside and had a word with him.
The Golden Set: Yaroslava Shvedova had no idea she had done it until after her match. It didn't register with Sara Errani either. And if you do an informal poll around the press room, I'm fairly certain not a whole lot of people had ever heard of a "Golden Set" before. But Shvedova dropped the first one in Slam history on French Open finalist Sara Errani in the first set of their third round match, winning 24 straight points to take the set 6-0. It's only the second one that's ever been recorded in the Open Era (Bill Scanlon did it in 1983 against Marcos Hocevar in Delray Beach).
What makes Shvedova's feat even more impressive is that she did it against an accomplished opponent who is playing the best tennis of her career, and it wasn't as if Errani couldn't find the court. Of the 24 points, only one was chalked up to an unforced error from Errani. Fourteen of them were winners off Shvedova's racket, including one backhand overhead smash that, in the context of the feat, turned out to be the baseball equivalent of a diving catch to save a perfect game.
You can see video of all 24 points in the video below.
Salute your shorts: Look, there's no other way to say this succinctly: Andy Murray could not keep his balls in his shorts against Marcos Baghdatis. In their third round match, a tennis ball popped out of Murray's pocket three times during the match, costing a point penalty. To paraphrase Tim Henman during the match, "You'd think a guy who's earned over $20 million in prize money would have deeper pockets." Which brings me to another weird observation: who knew Tiger Tim was funny?
Curfew? What Curfew?: One of the things that makes tennis a unique sport is that there's no time pressure (just ask the guys who repeatedly go over the allotted time allowed between points). But if you ever wanted to see what tennis would look like if the players had to race against a clock, look no further than Murray's curfew-addled match against Baghdatis. Because the All England Club is smack dab in the middle of a quiet residential area in southwest London -- an affluent one, at that -- the borough of Merton has an ordinance that prohibits play, even for the Championships, to go on after 11:00 pm.
So once Murray secured a two sets to one lead at about 10:34 pm, everyone's eye was on the clock. Could he really win another set by in 26 minutes? Well with a little (a lot) help from Baghdatis, who seemed perfectly happy to get out of there on time too, he did, winning the final set in 28 minutes and finishing at 11:02 pm. Want to know how seriously the Brits take their rules? Even Murray, thought officials wouldn't let him finish the match. After breaking to go up 5-1 right before the curfew, he walked to his chair thinking play would be called. Don't worry, Andy. Around these parts you're Johnny Rotten. Anarchy in the UK!
Goffin's idol worship continues: We all know David Goffin's much ballyhooed story about having posters or Roger Federer on his wall, but what about this: am I wrong or is he wearing Federer's kit from 2008?
Fisheye: In his fourth round match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Monday, Mardy Fish nailed a lineswoman in the eye with a serve up the tee. She had to be escorted off the court and replaced. I don't know how this doesn't happen more often.
Leave it to the ladies, guys: When word got around the WTA locker room about Gilles Simon's comments about equal prize money, the ladies knew the drill. They were going to get asked about it and they were prepared, particularly the two women who are, let's be honest, the faces of the women's game: Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams.
When asked about the comments, Sharapova diplomatically highlighted how hard the women had to fight for equal prize money and how they continue to build and grow the sport. But she just couldn't help getting a dig at Simon. "I'm sure there are a few more people that watch my matches than his, so...." Gotta love those ellipses.
Serena, who probably wouldn't exactly call Maria a BFF, backed up her colleague. "Yeah, I mean, definitely a lot more people are watching Maria than Simon. She's way hotter than he is," she joked.
"I deserve to get paid the same amount. I don't deserve less 'cause I have boobs and they don't," Serena quipped. "I worked just as hard since I was three.... I definitely know my whole life has been dedicated toward being a top athlete, and I shouldn't get paid less because of my sex.
"The conversation's totally over for me. That was so 2000; this is 2012. Who is still thinking like that, like honestly? Get with the program."
The men of the ATP can keep popping off about this issue all they want. But when it comes to diplomacy laced with a fringe of snark, the WTA has you beat, guys.
Roddick's farewell: For the first time in what (unfortunately) feels like a long time, Andy Roddick looked like himself again. He was hitting the ball well, moving without worrying that a limb would snap at any moment, and free to work the points the way he wanted to. In the end, David Ferrer's quality was undeniable and he sent Roddick packing in the third round with a 2-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4, 6-3 win. For a moment, watching Roddick walk off the court, I completely forgot about the context of career (that's polite code for that much hated "R" word that rhymes with "etirement"). And then it happened. As Roddick walked off the court with David Ferrer he slowed down and turned to the crowd waved to all sides, and blew a kiss. The gesture felt like a goodbye, and while Roddick said afterwards that he couldn't offer any clarification with respect to what he's thinking these days, we all know Andy's a realist. The fact that he stopped to soak in the moment speaks volumes.
To see Andy salute the crowd, go to the 1:20:42 mark of the match video.
*****What are your favorite moments from Wimbledon 2012? Sound off in the comments.