For the third time in four years, Rafael Nadal has failed to make the second week at the All England Tennis Club—a venue where he has won two (2008, 2010) Wimbledon titles. His exit at the hands of a player ranked outside the top 100 isn’t a shock anymore, and his decline is more apparent on grass than any other surface. However, Dustin Brown—the German Rastafarian who captured imaginations with his pulsating win over Nadal in the second round—crashed to Serbian Viktor Troicki in the third round in four sets. For the fourth time in a row, the player to beat Nadal has crashed and burned in the very next round. The 30-year old journeyman will be back, but might perhaps never play a match like that in his career (case in point: Rosol, Darcis).
Nadal’s conquerer last year, young Australian star Nick Kyrgios, who has jumped over 110 places in the rankings in a year, defeated last year’s semifinalist and no. 8 seed Milos Raonic in four sets. Kyrgios’ energy is obvious, and he demonstrated a great deal of spunk after being a set down against the big-serving Canadian.
Frenchman Richard Gasquet relived his glory days again with a backhand that melts hearts; he defeated last year’s semifinalist and false-starter Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets to make the fourth round again. But his fellow countryman Tsonga went down to giant Ivo Karlovic in four sets. Third countryman and the more fancied Gael Monfils too fell to fourth countryman Gilles Simon—which left Simon and Gasquet to be the ones carrying their flag into the second week.
The other giant John Isner again played a marathon match (4.5 hours ONLY) against US Open Champ Marin Cilic. The Croatian won over five sets, 12-10 in the fifth, to get through his second five-setter in three rounds. Surely, he will run out of gas sooner than later. 24-year old Belgian player David Goffin—a man who must was expected from a few years ago—has made serene progress almost unnoticed (beating Baghdatis in the third round), much like Swiss no. 2 Stan Wawrinka, who defeated Verdasco to book his place in the fourth round. He has never gone past this round in his Wimbledon career.
World no. 1 Novak Djokovic will face Kevin Anderson in the fourth round in a potentially tricky encounter. But the Serb is probably the best returner in the men’s game along with Andy Murray. The Brit has made good progress too, dropping his first set against Seppi in the third round, but making it through without major hiccups. Roger Federer dropped a set against big-serving Aussie Sam Groth too, but went through unscathed. Federer will face Spaniard Bautista Agut, who is a dangerous proposition. Berdych is on his way to the quarters to face Federer too—an encounter that could perhaps define the Swiss’ campaign. Before that, he must defeat Simon.
Must-watch 4th round matches:
Andy Murray takes on Ivo Karlovic in a match that will definitely not lack tiebreaks.
But the best match could be between Gasquet, the man who had promised so much early in his career, and current star Nick Kyrgios. The Aussie will fancy his chances.
In the Women’s draw, Serena Williams will take on sister Venus Williams in the fourth round. The biggest upset so far has been the defeat of Kvitova to ex World no. 1 Jankovic, who is still making quite an impression after leaving her best days behind her. There was a time when Serbs Ivanovic and Jankovic ruled tennis for a brief while, just before Djokovic dominated men’s tennis. Heather Watson’s loss to Serena was heartbreaking for Brit tennis fans, but they will be encouraged by what they saw. It was a match of the highest quality between an upcoming star and possibly the greatest tennis player in the women’s game.
On to week 2, by the end of which we could possibly have a new Wimbledon champion. Djokovic and Murray remain favourites, but Wawrinka stands in the Serb’s way, while Federer stands in Murray’s way.