Wimbledon has kicked off and, oddly enough, it doesn’t feel as important this year as it did in others. Overlapping with Euro 2012 and with the Olympics to start in just a few weeks, there may just be a sense of attention drifting elsewhere.
Perhaps it’s just first week blues as the players return to the grass courts of SW19 and blow the cobwebs away, but the first week of Wimbledon has almost felt as if it has snuck up behind peoples’ backs.
…the biggest shock coming…
The first few days were a bit blasé, the familiar names and faces dispatching the not-so-familiar ones with the biggest shock coming on the first day as Venus Williams was knocked out in straight sets (6-1, 6-3) by Russia’s Elena Vesnina. Unseeded, and featuring in her sixteenth straight Wimbledon, Venus struggled to match her counterpart on the court. Now 32 and suffering from autoimmune disease, Sjoren’s Syndrome, this early exit, coupled with her French Open disappointment, may make it incredibly difficult for her to make it back to the top.
The next days passed with few shocks or controversies, unless you count Croatian Ivo Karlovic’s accusation of bias in his match with Andy Murray. Wimbledon became a much more optimistic bet for the Scot after the second major shock of the tournament seeing Rafael Nadal crash out against little known Czech Lukas Rosol. Delayed for 43 minutes due to the roof at Centre Court being deployed (a decision that annoyed Nadal after he had won the fourth set), Rosol came out less affected by the delay, winning the fifth set (6-4) and sending the Spaniard home much, much earlier than anyone anticipated. Paraphrasing Boris Becker, “it doesn’t matter what happened last week; you have to produce it again”, advice Nadal will no doubt learn from. Having been in Murray’s side of the draw it will look as if someone else will have to step up to deny Murray a chance to make it to the final.
…looking less than comfortable…
Maria Sharapova made hard work of Su-Wei Hseih, beating her opponent in two sets but looking less than comfortable in windy conditions until a barrage of shots (and grunts) towards the end of the second set secured her place in the next round.
As usual it was a disappointing week for the young British hopefuls without the surname Murray as Anne Keothavong made a limp and forgettable exit to Italy’s Sara Errani. Elena Baltacha was defeated by defending champion Petra Kvitova on Thursday, leaving British hopes for progression in the women’s game to Heather Watson in Friday’s match against spell-check nemesis Agnieszka Radwanska. Unfortunately she lost in straight sets, battling gamely but effectively obliterated by her counterpart 6-0, 6-2: another year, another disappointing set of displays from the British contingent.
…coming back from a set down…
In other news Djokovic defeated Czech veteran Radek Stephanek coming back from a set down to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 and 6-3. Xavier Malisse defeated seventeenth seed Fernando Velasco and Kim Clijsters beat Russian Vera Zvonereva in two sets (Zvonereva retired in the second set).
Roger Federer was two sets to love down to Frenchman Julian Benneteau but clawed his way back finishing the fifth set in his typically classy style, making it look all rather effortless (an injury to Benneteau may have contributed to his falling away). Another upset was avoided, but will there be more in the coming days?
Quotes from the first few days of Wimbledon
“I feel like I am a great player; I am a great player. Unfortunately I have to deal with circumstances that people don’t normally have to deal with in a sport but I can’t be discouraged by that, so I’m up for challenges. I have great tennis in me. I just need the opportunity.”
“After I don’t know how many, I stood a little bit back so they cannot call (foot-fault). They still did it. So it was outrageous, outrageous. It’s Wimbledon, Centre Court, and they do this.”
“[Nadal] is a superstar and I’m very sorry for him. I played unbelievably today. I hope I can play another match like this.”
“Certainly not now, not since I’ve been doing it since I was four years old. It’s definitely tough and impossible to do when you’ve played this sport for over 20 years.”