The Road Report: Nadal's First-Round Fall
WIMBLEDON, England—Before I get started, let me assure you that The Big Fourtnight will continue despite Rafael Nadal's shocking first-round loss. As I said in my introductory post, Nadal's knees will forever be the elephant in the room, although I never would have guessed something like this would take place so soon. Peter Bodo, on the other hand, was ahead of the curve, and his warning about Rafa's state at Wimbledon is an even more interesting read that it already was.
I just watched some highlights of the defining match from Day 1, and while Nadal's loss wasn't a shock considering his substandard play, it's still hard to believe that his zest for the battle—something the Spaniard traditionally relishes—had been extinguished. Steve Tignor, whose follow-up to my Racquet Reaction is another must-read, mentioned this in today's Road Report, our daily series of videos we'll be recording outside the All England Club. If you haven't seen today's, check it out:
A few things to mention: We're still working on improving the quality, both of our deliveries and the ambient conditions around us (we can't control everything, though), and we hope to peak toward the final, just like the champions at the All England Club must do. You can see every Road Report the moment it goes live at our Wimbledon tournament page, located here.
Some notes about those of the Big Four still left in the draw, before I call it a day:
—I was unable to write anything about Andy Murray's 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 win over Benjamin Becker because of Nadal's loss, but it's safe to say that the No. 2 seed is still in good graces with the locals. Before play began this morning, I overheard the following remark between a couple of youths: "He's British when he's playing; when he loses he's Scottish."
Nothing earth-shattering, I know, but it's still something to hear, after Murray's accomplishments in 2012.
As for words from Murray himself, he called Rafa's loss "irrelevant" at the moment, reminding the press that he needs to win four more matches to reach the semifinals, the stage of the tournament where he could have potentially played Nadal.
—I gave Roger Federer his first question in his press conference today, and like he did throughout his rout of Victor Hanescu, he responded firmly but gently. "I pack my bag for five sets," the defending champion said after a match that was shorter than some singular sets. Later, he admitted, "It was a perfect day."
—That leaves Novak Djokovic, the only member of the Big Four to play on Tuesday. The world No. 1 opens his tournament against Florian Mayer, currently ranked No. 34, just outside the seeding barrier of 32. We can certainly take nothing for granted after today, but Djokovic is 3-0 against the German, including a win at Wimbledon last year (6-4, 6-1, 6-4).
Djokovic in four? I'll still stick with three, which would leave us with four straight-setters involving the Big Four in the first round. Sort of.