Wimbledon Casualty Report: Day 2

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 /by
AP Photos
AP Photos

Two days in, and Wimbledon has yet to cough up the upset ‘heard round the world. The closest it’s come is No. 7 seed Jelena Jankovic’s loss yesterday (see below). But as is always the case in the first few rounds at Wimbledon, there was plenty of heartache—and delirious joy—to go around. And hats off to the qualifiers in both draws: Their first-round success rate was almost exactly 50 percent, which seems awfully good. Here is the Day 2 casualty report:

Sorana Cirstea of Romania was seeded No. 29, but she wasn’t able to draw energy from the recent success of her fellow countryman, Simona Halep. She lost to 18-year-old Victoria Duval of the U.S. in a wildly fluctuating match on court No. 6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. The three matches Duval won in qualifying probably helped her retain her composure.

Duval, playing in a cool pair of shades tucked beneath her baseball hat, hit 26 winners to just 11 by Cirstea, and showed maturity and poise beyond her years, staving off seven of the eight break points Cirstea held. Duval will meet another prodigy, 17-year-old Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, in the second round. That match will be sponsored by Gerber’s.

*****

Rafael Nadal will rest easier tonight, and not just because he overcame his first-round jitters to beat Martin Klizan. Ivo Karlovic was a casualty yesterday, falling to the pride of Niagara Falls, Canada, and the guy with the scariest head shot on the ATP website, lucky loser Frank Dancevic. The tour’s most ardent walleye fisherman reeled in Karlovic, 6-4, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4). Dancevic lists the serve as his best shot, but “Dr. Ivo” won the ace contest, as he always does, 32-6.

Dancevic lost in the last round of qualifying to Jimmy Wang, but he’ll be going up against Mikhail Kukushkin in a tough second round draw—with Nadal (probably) awaiting the winner in the third round.

*****

Jelena Jankovic, seeded No. 7, became highest seed to fall in the women’s draw thus far. She was stoned by the free-swinging Estonian, Kaia Kanepi, 6-3, 6-2. Kanepi won 70 percent of her first serve points, and allowed Jankovic just three break points—of which the former No. 1 converted none. There will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth in Serbia, as Jankovic’s recent resurgence once again came to a grinding halt in a Grand Slam tournament.

Kanepi will play Yaroslava Shvedova, who took care of Kristyna Pliskova earlier, 8-6 in the fifth.  

*****

Well, it looks like that John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut quarterfinal you all were dying to see isn’t going to happen after all, as the Frenchman lost early on the second day to Marcel Granollers. It was a tough four-setter featuring two tiebreakers, 6-4, 7-6 (6), 6-7 (7), 6-4. Granollers out-aced Mahut, 19 to 10.

You might think that since Granollers names clay as his favorite surface, Mahut might have been able to pull this one out, but this Spaniard isn’t your average clay-court player—he’s got great hands and likes to close on the net. It seems like there’s at one of this type in every Spanish generation—who can forget Juan Manuel Balcells? And then there’s Feliciano Lopez as well. . .

Granollers will now meet Santiago Giraldo, whose long-term goal in life is to become a politician. It’s a good thing these guys don’t call their own lines, right?

*****

It isn’t easy playing a living legend at Wimbledon, as Poland’s Michal Przysiezny discovered over the course of more than three hours during his Court No. 3 loss to Lleyton Hewitt.

Can it really be a dozen years since Hewitt won this title? Yet there he was yesterday, at age 33 (and ranked No. 48), grinding away until he dispatched his Polish rival, 6-2, 6-7 (14), 6-1, 6-4. One of the key factors was Hewitt’s success attacking the net. He made good on 21 of his 31 forays to the forecourt, while Przysiezny won fewer than 50 percent of his net points (17 of 36). The latter’s 65 unforced errors were impressive, but not in a good way.

Hewitt is now 41-14 at Wimbledon; Przysiezny has a losing record of 2-3. The original “Aussie battler” is headed for a clash with No. 15 seed Jerzy Janowicz (see below). Me, I won’t have to spend half-an-hour trying to get my fingers to spell Przysiezny on the keyboard for at least another tournament.

*****

Somdev Devvarman, a two-time NCAA singles champion while at the University of Virginia, is one of those wonderfully balanced, graceful, technically-sound pros whose greatest liabilities are a lack of size and power. It isn’t that 5’11” and 160 pound are too small for a tennis-player build anymore; it’s that size and power are manifested in specific, not-always obvious ways in tennis.

Devvarman lost to the man who is as a good an example of his opposite as anyone, 6’8”, No. 15 seed Jerzy Janowicz. It was a tough, bitterly fought match that ended with Janowicz winning in three hours and four minutes, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Astonishingly, Devvarman cracked nearly twice as many aces as Janowicz (14-8), but Janowicz, not to be undone, made nearly twice as many wild unforced errors (60 to 32). That’s what life has been like lately for Janowicz, a semifinalist here just last year. He lost 10 of his last 12 matches and he went from March to May without winning a single time.

Well, perhaps it’s the dawn of a new day for the Polish cannon. Curiously, he now plays Hewitt, who’s the same size as Devvarman but has always had those extra bits that Devvarman lacks.

*****

Venus Williams is entitled to breathe a great big sigh of relief, now that Tsvetana Pironkova is out of Wimbledon. She was beaten by countrywoman Varvara Lepchenko, 6-7 (6), 6-2, 6-2. Many of you will remember that Pironkova had back-to-back wins over the older Williams sister in 2010 and 2011, in the quarterfinals and fourth round, respectively. Given that Williams is a five-time Wimbledon champ, this qualifies Pironkova for her own page in the next edition of Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

Lepchenko approached the net 22 times and won 18 of those points, while her winners (35) and unforced errors (33) added up to a wash. She will now meet Caroline Garcia (no relation to Grateful Dead founder Jerry Garcia, or Zorro’s frenemy Sergeant Garcia). Garcia, the enigmatic but undeniably talented young Frenchwoman, upset No. 14 seed Sara Errani.

*****

The last name didn’t help. Samantha Murray, a 26-year-old who’s ranked No. 247 and is so far off the radar that the WTA website doesn’t even have a bio for her, said she was “thrilled” to get the chance to compete against Maria Sharapova. We might have told her, “Enjoy it while it lasts.”

Sharapova launched her Wimbledon campaign with a 6-1, 6-0 win in 58 minutes, raising the question—at what point do you draw the line on wild cards? Is wanting to experience “the thrill” of playing a star sufficient cause to award someone a wild card? A guy who wants to skydive doesn’t get to go up in the plane for free, and if you want to ride the Cyclone roller-coaster on Coney Island for the “thrill” you still have to buy a ticket. Just sayin’.

*****

Marsel Ilhan, the first ATP pro to represent Turkey (by birth he’s an Uzbek) hit his career-high ranking of No. 87 in 2011, but he’s slid back since then and has spent a fair amount of time spinning his wheels. A qualifier, he was beaten yesterday in four close sets by one of his own kind—the U.S. pro Denis Kudla.

It may only be Day 3 of Wimbledon, but Kudla has already played five matches: Three to qualify in singles, and two in a doomed attempt to qualify (with Tim Smyczek) in doubles. So you can safely say this 21-year old native of the Ukraine has already had a great tournament, no matter how he fares against his next opponent, No. 10 seed Kei Nishikori.

*****

Eighteen-year old Taylor Townsend, a finalist in the girls’ junior event last year, got another dose of the big-time challenge yesterday, losing to No. 31 seed Klara Koukalova of the Czech Republic, 7-5, 6-2.

Townsend’s fellow countryman Madison Keys, who bounced Monica Puig of Puerto Rico yesterday, will get a chance to avenge Townsend when she meets Koukalova in the second round.

*****

Quick, tell me all you know about Pierre-Hugues Herbert, other than the fact that his father is a tennis coach who also likes to play guitar. I didn’t think so. It will be some time before we know more about the 23-year-old current No. 130, who qualified for the tournament (his final victim: Miloslav Mecir) but was beaten in four sets by Jack Sock of the U.S.

For his efforts, Sock will be thrown to the lion—No. 8 seed Milos Raonic, who fired an average of 10 aces (that’s two-and-a-half games worth of points) per set in his three-set win over the now-shellshocked Aussie, Matthew Ebden.

*****

Stephane Robert of France could be forgiven for thinking, “I’m too old for this &*^%” after his three-tiebreak, four-set loss to 19-year-old wild card Nick Kyrgios. The Aussie blasted 29 aces, a few too many for Robert’s 34-year-old eyes to track effectively. Kyrgios will now try to lay the hammer down on flamboyant Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

*****

The light was expiring quickly, and so was No. 21 seed Roberta Vinci. She hasn’t won a match since early in May at Madrid, and the 31-year-old had the misfortune to draw one of the most promising youngsters on the WTA tour, Donna Vekic. Vekic, a 5’10” Croatian who’s already decamped to Monaco, is still some days from her 18th birthday. But she’s already won a WTA title, thanks to the same kind of toughness that enabled her to keep her wits in the gloaming and master Vinci in an hour and 45 minutes, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

One sign of Vekic’s competitive zeal is her perfect (3 for 3) record on break points in this match. She also hit 42 winners (along with 32 unforced errors), which will wipe away any question about just who was calling the tune.

Coincidentally, all the while, Vekic’s next opponent was also laboring away in the half-dark, in a stupendous battle of the wild cards. Former Wimbledon finalist and world No. 2 Vera Zvonareva and game Tara Moore—a 21-year old British girl who may yet prove that all those wild cards doled out to the locals aren’t totally wasted—were deadlocked at a set apiece when play was suspended because of poor light.

For complete Wimbledon coverage, including updated draws and reports from Steve Tignor, head to our tournament page.

Before commenting, please read our Posting Guidelines.

Top Ranked Players
More Rankings