2010 Wimbledon Coverage
Day Five Thoughts
It has been a picture-perfect Wimbledon so far. The weather (and I keep tempting fate everyday by writing about it) has held up spectacularly to this point, sun and warmth chasing away the traditional showers which usually seem to hit right about this point in the tournament. We've seen the queen make an appearance at the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, a rare sighting of the most royal of British royalty on the grounds. Oh, yeah... and we saw that cricket-like run of tennis by Isner and Mahut that left the world's heads spinning toward London even as the World Cup was going on thousands of miles southward.
Speaking of Isner, most people have to win a couple of matches before they get to playing on the first Friday at Wimbledon. But after his three-day, eleven-hour thriller with the Frenchman that served as his foil, it was just the second round as he lined up opposite Thiemo de Bakker. The Dutchman, who himself had an extended fifth set to get out of the opening round, was obviously the more rested of the two as they took to Court 5. De Bakker would need just an hour and a quarter to eliminate the American 6-0 6-3 6-2, ending a whirlwind week for the 6'9" former Georgia Bulldog.
It would be just one of a number of upsets on the courts for the men today. Court 18, where Isner had suffered and survived his previous match, proved a graveyard for several seeds playing there today. The opening match on the docket for day five there pitted #13 Mikhail Youzhny against Paul-Henri Mathieu. The Russian has had a strong season so far in 2010 after finishing the late portion of 2009 off with a bang... but this time around, Mathieu did what his compatriot Mahut couldn't and was a victorious unseeded French male. The roller-coaster ride saw Mathieu steal the first set 6-4 before Youzhny rattled off two straight 6-2 sets to grab the initiative. The underdog, though, had his day -- belting out his own pair of set victories, 6-3 6-4, to book the last spot in the third round.
Later on Court 18, with the third round now well in action, Daniel Brands would knock off #31 Victor Hanescu. The two would play into a fifth set, having played tiebreakers in each of the first three, before the Romanian was forced to withdraw after getting in an altercation with rowdy German fans in the stands. Apparently Hanescu, taking umbrage at the raucous nature of the crowd behind him, confronted them. After words, some profane, were exchanged he spit in their direction, retired, shook hands with Brands and stormed off the court. So it will be the young German who gets the opportunity to take on #12 Tomas Berdych in the fourth round with a quarterfinal spot opposite Roger Federer (or, technically, #16 Jurgen Melzer) at stake.
We saw other seeds fall, but it was a matter of lower-seeded players losing to higher-ranked ones. On Centre Court, #15 Lleyton Hewitt ousted #21 Gael Monfils. Court 1 saw #3 Novak Djokovic sail by #28 Albert Montanes; later in the day, #5 Andy Roddick would take out #29 Philipp Kohlschreiber in four sets there as well. Melzer advanced to his fourth-round date with Federer after eliminating #22 Feliciano Lopez, ending a run for a pre-tournament darkhorse pick. Nothing too shocking went down, aside from Hanescu's behavior...
There weren't really any upsets of which to speak on the women's side. Sure, in the opening match of the day on Centre Court, #17 Justine Henin beat #12 Nadia Petrova for pretty much the only match to go against the seeding. But few people out there, with the way Henin has come back determined to make her mark, would assert that Petrova was appreciably better or even really favored in this encounter. After all, one of the most anticipated matches people have been waiting to witness on the first weekend at Wimbledon was the all-Belgian duel between Henin and #8 Kim Clijsters, the reigning U.S. Open champion who herself only recently came back form retirement.
The bottom half of the sweet sixteen on the women's side is set after today, with #2 Venus Williams slated to square off against Aussie Jarmila Groth in the fourth round. Groth, who also made it to the fourth round at the French Open this spring, ended up losing to Yaroslava Shvedova in Paris... if she loses here, it will be even less shocking for the 23-year-old emigre to Sydney via Bratislava. She is joined by one other unseeded player at this point in the fourth round, Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova, who eliminated Regina Kulikova for her chance to take on #11 Marion Bartoli in the octofinals.
#21 Vera Zvonareva was the other lower seed to win over a higher-seeded player, joining Henin amongst those with the distinction after she finished her 76-minute, 6-4 6-2 victory over #15 Yanina Wickmayer. But just like Henin, it really wasn't that big a stretch of the imagination to envision Zvonareva winning this match before it began. Both boast a tournament win apiece this season (each on hard courts). Wickmayer, just 20 years old, had never been past the first round in her previous two tries at Wimbledon; while Zvonareva, five years older, had already been to the fourth round twice here. So the Russian, having defeated her slightly-higher-seeded foe, now awaits her next battle -- this time against #4 Jelena Jankovic. Win that match and Zvonareva will truly have an upset...
All things told, it was a fairly uneventful day at the All-England Club. There were no cloudbursts to compact the schedule and leave everyone racing and fatigued to finish the tournament in a fortnight. The favorites for the most part lived up to their billing, and the few upsets that did go down were hardly of an earth-shattering nature. The bracket remains largely intact going into the first weekend at Wimbledon, and we should have a hell of a lineup to watch all along the way as Saturday and Sunday roll around!