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2010 Wimbledon Coverage

Day Seven Thoughts


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After the traditional Sunday off in the middle of Wimbledon, the players still in the draw returned to the All-England Lawn Tennis Club for another big day of tennis. The main two show courts, Centre Court and Court 1, both saw things play true to form for all the fans lucky enough to get into the seats and witness the matches live. Centre Court witnessed top seeds Roger Federer and Serena Williams each emerge victorious in straight sets from their respective fourth-round matches against #16s Jurgen Melzer and Maria Sharapova . Then #4 Andy Murray, playing for the pride of all Britain, did the same thing to #18 Sam Querrey. The last match of the day in the showcase stadium offered yet another top seed's advancement, as the #1 mixed doubles team of Nenad Zimonjic and Samantha Stosur -- both smarting still from their surprised ousters from men's doubles (Zimonjic and partner Daniel Nestor were two-time defending champions) and women's singles (Stosur was a French Open finalist just two weeks prior to her opening-round defeat) -- took out their frustrations for earlier losses on Colin Fleming and Sarah Borwell. The Union Jack's chances of flying for a champion this year took another hit as Fleming and Borwell tumbled 6-4 6-1 out of the tournament. In the process two more domestic players bid their adieu, and a couple more favorites succeeded on Centre.

Court 1 was much the same way today. The all-Belgian duel between #8 Kim Clijsters and #17 Justine Henin, a confrontation that we'd been awaiting in a Grand Slam ever since the latter returned from her retirement (in large part as a response to the return of Clijsters, who un-retired last summer and a month later was the U.S. Open champ), did not disappoint. Each woman split one of the first two sets by 6-2 scores, setting up a showdown third to decide who advanced to the quarterfinals. Ultimately it would be Clijsters and the seeding committee that would prevail, Henin falling 6-3 in the final set to exit herself from the tourney. #15 Lleyton Hewitt would be next to say goodbye, as #3 Novak Djokovic needed four sets to eliminate the Aussie. And then #2 Rafael Nadal, much pilloried for his performances so far, came out and told all the critics to shut up with a spectacular 6-4 6-2 6-2 defeat of Paul-Henri Mathieu.

Court 2... well, Court 2 was not nearly as friendly to the favorites today as the other show courts. #2 Venus Williams seemed unaffected by the curse which was about to proliferate in the sunshine; perhaps it was simply too early in the day and the critical temperature for failure had not yet been achieved. The Petri dish spawned an upset in the next match, though, as #3 Caroline Wozniacki -- a Dane of Polish descent who has been lingering just behind the Williams sisters in the rankings yet has faltered in her chances to get that breakthrough Slam so far -- fell short yet again. This time it was Petra Kvitova, the Czech who had already done in #23 Zheng Jie (a 2008 Wimbledon semifinalist) and #14 Victoria Azarenka (a quarterfinalist last year), who eliminated the Dane. And the stunner was that she needed just 46 minutes to get the job done. Conceding five service breaks out of six service games, Wozniacki fell hard from the draw 6-2 6-0. It was confirmation that the 20-year-old Czech is just as much worth following as one of the future stars of women's tennis as the soon-to-be-20 Dane...


And then we got an even bigger upset. Andy Roddick -- the man whose marathon fifth set in the final against Federer last year was among the greatest tests of endurance we'd seen until Isner and Mahut came along this year -- hadn't looked comfortable yet this tournament, getting taken long into sets and giving one away in his matches against both Michael Llodra and Philipp Kohlschreiber. But the #5 seed, as they say, was still winning, and there's no greater salve for playing less than your best than succeeding despite your failings.

At least, he was winning until today. We saw Lu Yen-Hsun, the #82-ranked player on the ATP list (never having been higher than #55), stun Roddick in five sets to remain as the only unseeded player amongst the final eight. The 26-year-old Taiwanese veteran, having previously never been beyond the third round at a Grand Slam tournament, is now going to square off against Djokovic for a shot to face Federer in the semifinals. Roddick won the first set 6-4, earning in the process what would prove his only break conversion of the match.

The next three sets all went to tiebreaks, with Lu taking the first two 7-3 and 7-4 and Roddick remaining alive for a fifth set 7-5 in the fourth-set tiebreak. The two men seemed unwilling to give up anything on the other's serve, and for a moment it looked as though we might another endurance exam. But then the improbable occurred. Serving at 7-8 in the final frame, Roddick looked to scream in an ace on his second serve at 30-30. But the replay showed his shot going long, a clear instance where instant replay came in handy (take note, FIFA... it's not all bad!), and Lu had a break point for the match. Painting the line with a forehand winner, the man they call "Rendy" rendered Roddick helpless right after Wozniacki's stunner, a second-straight top-five player faltering on Court 2...


The big losses weren't restricted just to that one court, though. #11 Marion Bartoli was gone in less than two hours, 22-year-old Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova taking her out in a 6-4 6-4 fourth round that would leave the three unseeded women amongst the top eight. Pironkova was joined both by Kvitova as well as Kaia Kanepi. The Estonian, who took out Samantha Stosur in the first round just to get to this point, has found herself among the top eight women on grass this season after taking the day over fellow upset artist Klara Zakopalova 6-2 6-4, barely breaking a sweat and done in 75 minutes. Her matchup against Kvitova will ensure that at least one unseeded player remains among the final four.

There will likely be seeds still alive in the junior tournaments, but one of the most notable on the boys' side came crashing out as well today when French Open juniors champion Agustin Velotti was felled by homegrown talent James Marsalek. Velotti, who on the strength of his clay season was the #2 seed in this tournament, was admittedly up against a hot player -- Marsalek, after all, won the pre-Wimbledon junior tournament at Roehampton, and this was no easy outing for an opening-round match involving such a high seed regardless of the age of the draw. It proved detrimental for Velotti, who in the span of less than hour went from champ to chump. Serving fewer aces than double faults (3 to 4, versus Marsalek's 9 aces and 2 double faults), getting less than half his first serves into play and committing twenty unforced errors, the Argentine youngster simply was off his game today. Velotti will be back, but Marsalek now offers the British yet another hope to ease their flagging chances of earning any hardware at their own tournament for yet another year...


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