Sunday, July 5, 2015

Wimbledon Day 6 recap: Jankovic stuns Kvitova

Jelena Jankovic rallied to beat defending champion
Petra Kvitova. 2014 photo by Paul Bauman
   Upset of the day -- No. 28 seed Jelena "Weird Al" Jankovic of Serbia rallied to beat No. 2 Petra "Fied Forest" Kvitova, the defending champion from the Czech Republic, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the third round. Kvitova, who also won the title in 2011, led 4-2 in the second set. She had lost only three games in her previous two matches after withdrawing from Eastbourne the week before Wimbledon with an undisclosed illness. The 30-year-old Jankovic, who reached No. 1 in the world in 2008, has never been past the fourth round at Wimbledon. She had won only one match at the All England Club in the last four years. See my story on this year's Indian Wells finals, in which Jankovic lost to Simona Halep.
   Match of the day -- Canada's Vasek "Anything Is" Pospisil, the reigning men's doubles champion with American Jack Sock, topped James "Montgomery" Ward of Great Britain 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 8-6.
   Notable -- "Cheech" Marin Cilic, the ninth seed and reigning U.S. Open champion, outlasted No. 17 John "Wayne" Isner 7-6 (4), 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-7 (4), 12-10 in the completion of a match suspended by darkness.
   Dustin Brown, who upset Rafael Nadal in the second round, lost to No. 22 Victor "Leon" Troicki 6-4, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3. It's the fourth straight year in which a man ranked No. 100 or worse has beaten Nadal at Wimbledon and fallen in the next round. 
   No. 15 Timea "Ted" Bacsinszky, a French Open semifinalist last month, dismissed No. 18 Sabine Lisicki "Day," the Wimbledon runner-up two years ago, 6-3, 6-2. 
   Men's seeded winners -- No. 2 Roger Federer "Express," No. 3 Andy "Bill" Murray, No. 6 Tomas "Free As A" Berdych, No. 9 Cilic, No. 12 Gilles "Paul" Simon, No. 20 Roberto "Clemente" Bautista Agut, No. 22 Victory "Leon" Troicki, No. 23 Ivo "Longoria" Karlovic.
   Men's seeded losers -- No. 13 Jo-Wilfried "Sing A" Tsonga, No. 17 Isner, No. 18 Gael "Sayers" Monfils, No. 25 Andreas Seppi "Blatter."
   Women's seeded winners -- No. 5 "Sweet" Caroline Wozniacki, No. 13 Agnieszka "Moorehead" Radwanska, No. 15 Bacsinszky, No. 20 Garbine Muguruza "Bader Ginsburg," No. 21 Madison "Where The Hell Are My" Keys.
   Women's seeded losers -- No. 2 Kvitova, No. 10 Angelique "Jolie" Kerber, No. 18 Lisicki, No. 31 Camila Giorgi "Girl."
   Stars and stripes -- The United States has four women -- Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Keys and CoCo Vandeweghe -- and one man -- wild card Denis "The Menace" Kudla -- in the round of 16. The Williams sisters will meet in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since 2009 on Monday at 5 a.m. PDT (ESPN). Kudla figures to lose to Cilic.
   Fast facts -- Sam "Adams" Groth of Australia hammered a 147-mph (237-kph) serve, the second-fastest in Wimbledon history, in his 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2 loss to Federer. The 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter), 215-pound (97-kilogram) Groth holds the unofficial record for the world's fastest serve with a  163.4-mph (263-kph) rocket in a 2012 Challenger in Busan, South Korea.
   You might say the women's draw is a little top-heavy. Remaining players in the top half have combined for 34 Grand Slam singles titles (Serena "Vanessa" Williams 20, Venus "And Mars" Williams seven, Maria "Shriver" Sharapova five and Victoria "Station" Azarenka two). Remaining players in the bottom half have won none. 
   Northern California connection -- Anabel Medina Garrigues and Jarmila Gajdosova, both of whom are scheduled to play for the Sacramento-based California Dream in World TeamTennis after Wimbledon, reached the third round of women's doubles with different partners. Medina Garrigues is seeded 16th with fellow Spaniard Arantxa Parra Santonja.
   Another member of the Dream, Aisam Qureshi of Pakistan, lost in men's doubles.
   In the second round of mixed doubles, top-seeded Mike Bryan and Bethanie Mattek-Sands won, but fourth-seeded Bob Bryan and Caroline Garcia fell to Nenad Zimonjic and Gajdosova 3-6, 6-3, 9-7. The 37-year-old Bryan twins are scheduled to play three of the Dream's 14 regular-season matches.
   Also in mixed doubles, 10th-seeded Raven Klaasen and Raquel Kops-Jones, a San Jose resident and former Cal standout, advanced by walkover.
   Michaela Gordon, 15, of Saratoga beat Rebeka Masarova of Russia 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the first round of junior girls singles. 
   Quote -- Jankovic: "I cannot stop smiling. ... I was very brave at the end. You know, here I am. Unbelievable."
   Monday's top matches (beginning at 5 a.m. PDT on ESPN) -- Centre Court: Serena Williams (1) vs. Venus Williams (16), Murray (3) vs. Karlovic (23), Federer (2) vs. Bautista Agut (20).
   Court 1: Sharapova (4) vs. Zarina "Williams" Diyas, Stan "The Man" Wawrinka (4) vs. David "Gerry" Goffin (16), Novak "It's No" Djokovic (1) vs. Kevin Anderson "Cooper" (14).

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Wimbledon Day 5 recap: Serena survives thriller

Serena Williams twice came within two points
of losing to Heather Watson. 2014 photo
by Paul Bauman
   Match of the day -- The Queen of Comebacks did it again. Top-ranked Serena "Vanessa" Williams, who twice was two points from losing, held off No. 59 Heather "Elementary My Dear" Watson of Great Britain, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in the third round. Watson led 3-0 (two service breaks) in the third set and later served for the match at 5-4. Serena will play older sister Venus "And Mars" Williams on Monday in a matchup of five-time Wimbledon singles champions. It will be their first meeting in a major since Serena won the 2009 Wimbledon final. Serena leads the head-to-head series 14-11.
   Upset of the day -- No. 26 seed Nick "I'm Just" Kyrgios, 20, avenged a loss to Milos "Kunis" Raonic in last year's quarterfinals, beating the seventh-seeded Canadian 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-3. Raonic still hasn't recovered from surgery for a pinched nerve in his right foot on May 13, which caused him to miss the French Open.
   Notable -- The match between No. 9 "Cheech" Marin Cilic, the reigning U.S. Open champion, and No. 17 John "Wayne" Isner was suspended by darkness at 10-10 in the fifth set. Five years ago at Wimbledon, Isner topped Nicolas "I Don't Give A" Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set in the first round. Spread over three days, it's the longest match in tennis history. 
   Men's seeded winners -- No. 1 Novak "It's No" Djokovic, No. 4 Stan "The Man" Wawrinka, No. 14 Kevin Anderson "Cooper," No. 16 David "Gerry" Goffin, No. 21 Richard "Don't Blow A" Gasquet, No. 26 Kyrgios.
   Men's seeded losers -- No. 7 Raonic, No. 11 Grigor "Mortis" Dimitrov, No. 24 Leonardo "Da Vinci" Mayer, No. 27 Bernard "A." Tomic. 
   Women's seeded winners -- No. 1 Serena Williams, No. 4 Maria "Shriver" Sharapova, No. 6 "I Love" Lucie Safarova, No. 16 Venus Williams, No. 23 Victoria "Station" Azarenka, No. 30 Belinda "Johnny" Bencic.
   Women's seeded losers -- No. 14 Andrea Petkovic "Park," No. 22 Samantha "Stephens" Stosur, No. 29 Irina-Camelia "Ain't Too Proud To" Begu.
   Stars and stripes -- Unseeded CoCo "Chanel" Vandeweghe and wild card Denis "The Menace" Kudla reached the fourth round of a major for the first time. Vandeweghe, the 23-year-old niece of former NBA star Kiki Vandeweghe, whipped 22nd-seeded Stosur, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, 6-2, 6-0. Kudla, 22, outlasted Santiago Giraldo "Rivera" of Colombia 6-2, 6-7 (3), 2-6, 6-1, 6-3. See my 2012 story on Vandeweghe here and 2013 article on Kudla and U.S. men's tennis here.
   Fast fact -- Serena Williams, who's trying to win the first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi "Para" Graf in 1988, has won 24 consecutive matches in majors.
   Northern California connection -- Top-ranked Bob and Mike Bryan beat Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-3 in the second round of men's doubles. The 37-year-old Bryan twins starred at Stanford in 1997 and 1998, and are scheduled to play part-time this month for the Sacramento-based California Dream of World TeamTennis.
   Three full-time members of the Dream played in the first round of mixed doubles. Jarmila Gajdosova and Anabel Medina Garrigues won, but Aisam Qureshi lost. Also falling was former Stanford standout Scott Lipsky. 
   Quote -- Serena Williams: "I honestly didn't think I was going to win. How I pulled through, I really don't know."
   Today's top matches (beginning at 5 a.m. PDT on ESPN) -- Centre Court: Roger Federer "Express" (2) vs. Sam "Adams" Groth, Petra "Fied Forest" Kvitova (2) vs. Jelena "Weird Al" Jankovic (28), Andy "Bill" Murray (3) vs. Andreas Seppi "Blatter" (25).
   Court 1: "Sweet" Caroline Wozniacki (5) vs. Camila Giorgi "Girl" (31), Cilic (9) vs. Isner (17), James "Montgomery" Ward vs. Vasek "Anything Is" Pospisil, Gilles "Paul" Simon (12) vs. Gael "Sayers" Monfils (18).

Friday, July 3, 2015

Day 4 recap: Nadal's Wimbledon skid continues

Rafael Nadal, a two-time Wimbledon champion,
lost to qualifier Dustin Brown of Germany in the
second round. 2015 photo by Paul Bauman
   Upset of the day -- For the fourth straight year, "San" Rafael Nadal was upset early at Wimbledon by a player ranked No. 100 or lower. This time, 102nd-ranked qualifier Dustin "Hoffman" Brown of Germany dismissed the 10th seed and two-time Wimbledon champion 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the second round. Since reaching the final in his five appearances from 2006 through 2011, Nadal has lost to No. 100 Lukas "Oil Stadium" Rosol in the second round, No. 135 Steve "Martin" Darcis in the first round, No. 144 Nick "I'm Just" Kyrgios in the fourth round and Brown. 
   Match of the day -- Ivo "Longoria" Karlovic, a 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Croatian, pounced 53 aces in his 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 13-11 victory over Alexandr "The Great" Dolgopolov of Ukraine. Aside from John "Wayne" Isner's 113 and Nicolas "I Don't Give A" Mahut's 103 in their 2010 epic at Wimbledon, which Isner won 70-68 in the fifth set, Karlovic's total ranks third in history. He blasted  78 aces in the 2009 Davis Cup semifinals and 55 during the 2009 French Open. See my 2011 story on Karlovic.
   Notable -- Magdalena Rybarikova "Obama" of Slovakia eliminated eighth-seeded Ekaterina "Do The" Makarova of Russia 6-2, 7-5.
   Men's seeded winners -- No. 2 Roger Federer "Express," No. 3 Andy "Bill" Murray, No. 6 Tomas "Free As A" Berdych, No. 12 Gilles "Paul" Simon, No. 13 Jo-Wilfried "Sing A" Tsonga, No. 18 Gael "Sayers" Monfils, No. 20 Roberto "Clemente" Bautista Agut, No. 22 Viktor "Leon" Troicki, No. 23 Karlovic, No. 25 Andreas Seppi "Blatter."
   Men's seeded losers -- No. 10 Nadal, No. 15 "Jose" Feliciano Lopez, No. 30 Fabio "Cell" Fognini. 
   Women's seeded winners -- No. 2 Petra "Fied Forest" Kvitova, No. 5 "Sweet" Caroline Wozniacki, No. 10 Angelique "Jolie" Kerber, No. 13 Agnieszka "Moorehead" Radwanska, No. 15 Timea "Ted" Bacsinszky, No. 18 Sabine Lisicki "Day," No. 20 Garbine Muguruza "Bader Ginsburg," No. 21 Madison "Where The Hell Are My" Keys, No. 28 Jelena "Weird Al" Jankovic, No. 31 Camila Giorgi "Girl."
   Women's seeded losers -- No. 8 Makarova, No. 17 Elina "Horne" Svitolina, No. 25 Alize "Doolittle" Cornet, No. 26 Svetlana "Turner" Kuznetsova.
   Stars and stripes -- "Yosemite" Sam Querrey lost to Federer, who shares the post-1900 record of seven Wimbledon singles titles with "Pistol" Pete Sampras, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. Christina McHale "Navy" fell to Lisicki, the Wimbledon runner-up to Marion "Barry" Bartoli two years ago, 2-6, 7-5, 6-1. After two rounds of singles, the United States has six women and two men remaining. 
   Fast fact -- Kvitova, the defending and two-time champion, has lost only three games in two matches.
   Northern California connection -- Querrey was born in San Francisco and played part-time for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis.
   Winning in men's doubles were top-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan (Stanford) and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (Sacramento-based California Dream of WTT), and losing was Scott Lipsky (Stanford). Fifth-seeded Raquel Kops-Jones (San Jose resident, Cal) and Abigail Spears advanced in women's doubles, but Maria Sanchez (Modesto product) lost.  
   Quote -- Nadal, on his past success at Wimbledon: "I don't know if I will be back to (that) level."
   Today's top matches (beginning at 5 a.m. PDT on ESPN) -- Centre Court: Grigor "Mortis" Dimitrov (11) vs. Richard "Don't Blow A." Gasquet (21), Novak "It's No" Djokovic (1) vs. Bernard "A." Tomic (27), Serena "Vanessa" Williams (1) vs. Heather "Elementary My Dear" Watson.
   Court 1: Stan "The Man" Wawrinka (4) vs. Fernando Verdasco "Sauce," Maria "Shriver" Sharapova (4) vs. Irina-Camelia "Ain't Too Proud To" Begu (29), "Cheech" Marin Cilic (9) vs. Isner (17).

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wimbledon Day 3 recap: No. 5 Nishikori withdraws

Kei Nishikori pulled out of his second-round match against Santiago
Giraldo because of a left calf injury. 2015 photo by Paul Bauman
   "Upset" of the day -- Fifth-seeded "Special" Kei Nishikori, last year's U.S. Open runner-up to "Cheech" Marin Cilic, withdrew from his second-round match against Santiago Giraldo "Rivera" of Colombia because of a left calf injury. In Nishikori's six previous Wimbledon appearances, he had progressed from three straight first-round losses to two third-round setbacks to a fourth-round showing.
   Match of the day -- The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Cilic, from Croatia, outlasted 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) Ricardas "Ben" Berankis of Lithuania 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 7-5 in 3 hours, 34 minutes.
   Men's seeded winners -- No. 1 Novak "It's No" Djokovic, No. 4 Stan "The Man" Wawrinka, No. 7 Milos "Kunis" Raonic, No. 9 Cilic, No. 11 Grigor "Mortis" Dimitrov, No. 14 Kevin "Costner" Anderson, No. 16 David "Gerry" Goffin, No. 17 John "Wayne" Isner, No. 21 Richard "Don't Blow A" Gasquet, No. 24 Leonardo "Da Vinci" Mayer, No. 26 Nick "I'm Just" Kyrgios, Bernard "A." Tomic.
   Men's seeded losers -- No. 5 Nishikori, No. 32 Dominic "Home" Thiem.
   Women's seeded winners -- No. 1 Serena "Vanessa" Williams, No. 4 Maria "Shriver" Sharapova, No. 6 "I Love" Lucie Safarova, No. 14 Andrea Petkovic "Park," No. 16 Venus "And Mars" Williams, No. 22 Samantha "Stephens" Stosur, No. 23 Victoria "Station" Azarenka, No. 29 Irina-Camelia "Ain't Too Proud To" Begu, No. 30 Belinda "Johnny" Bencic. 
   Women's seeded losers -- No. 7 Ana "Karenina" Ivanovic, No. 11 "North" Karolina Pliskova, No. 19 Sara "No Runs, No Hits, No" Errani.
   Stars and stripes -- U.S. men and women had an excellent day. The Williams sisters moved within one victory each of meeting in the fourth round, two women ousted seeds, and two men reached the third round.
   Qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands "Of Time" dismissed Ivanovic 6-3, 6-4, and CoCo "Chanel" Vandeweghe took out Pliskova 7-6 (5), 6-4. Also advancing were Madison "Where The Hell Are My" Keys and Sloane "Ranger" Stephens.
   On the men's side, Isner and wild card Denis "The Menace" Kudla won. Isner will face Cilic, and Kudla will meet Giraldo.
   Fast fact -- It was the hottest day in Wimbledon history as the temperature topped 95 degrees (35 Celsius).
   Northern California connection -- All players in action won in the first round of doubles.
   Triumphing in women's doubles were fifth-seeded Raquel Kops-Jones (San Jose resident, ex-Cal star)-Abigail Spears, 16th-seeded Anabel Medina Garrigues (Sacramento-based California Dream in World TeamTennis)-Arantxa Parra Santonja, Jarmila Gajdosova (Dream)-Ajla Tomljanovic and Johanna Konta-Maria Sanchez (Modesto product).
   Prevailing in men's doubles were Treat Huey-Scott Lipsky (ex-Stanford star) and Steve Johnson-Sam Querrey (San Francisco native). Huey, a Washington, D.C., native who plays for the Philippines, and Lipsky, an Irvine resident, upset 12th-seeded Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay and David Marrero of Spain 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-4.  
   Quote -- Serena Williams on possibly playing Venus: "She poses a big threat for me."
   Thursday's top matches (beginning at 5 a.m. PDT on ESPN) -- Centre Court: Sabine Lisicki "To My Stomach" (18) vs. Christina McHale "Navy," Roger Federer "Express" (2) vs. "Yosemite" Sam Querrey, "San" Rafael Nadal (10) vs. Dustin "Hoffman" Brown.
   Court 1: Andy "Bill" Murray (3) vs. Robin "Hood" Haase, Petra "Fied Forest" Kvitova (2) vs. Kurumi "Weather" Nara, Jo-Wilfried "Sing A" Tsonga (13) vs. "Prince" Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wimbledon Day 2 recap: Bouchard, Halep tumble

No. 12 seed Eugenie Bouchard, last year's Wimbledon
runner-up, lost in the first round to qualifier Ying-
Ying Duan of China. 2013 photo by Paul Bauman
   Upsets of the day -- Eugenie "In A Bottle" Bouchard and Simona "I Need" Halep -- who reached the Wimbledon final and semifinals, respectively, last year  -- lost in the opening round to players ranked below 100.
   The 12th-seeded Bouchard lost to 117th-ranked qualifier Ying-Ying "Yang" Duan of China 7-6 (3), 6-4. The third-seeded Halep, meanwhile, fell to No. 106 Jana "Orlando" Cepelova of the Czech Republic 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.
   Bouchard, 21, said a torn abdominal muscle had limited her tournament preparation, and Halep, 23, was treated for a lost toenail late in the first set.
   Bouchard, also a semifinalist at the Australian Open and French Open in 2014, has lost 12 of her last 14 matches. Halep exited in the second round of the recent French Open after advancing to the final at Roland Garros last year.
   Match of the day -- Borna "Again" Coric, 18, of Croatia overcame leg cramps to edge Sergiy "Prokofiev" Stakhovsky of Ukraine 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1, 1-6, 9-7 in 3 hours, 55 minutes. Stakhovsky stunned Roger Federer "Express" in the second round at Wimbledon two years ago, ending the Swiss star's run of 36 Grand Slam quarterfinals.
   Notable -- Petra "Fied Forest" Kvitova opened her title defense by demolishing Kiki "Dee" Bertens of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-0 in 35 minutes. Kvitova won 28 of 29 points on her serve, double-faulting in the last game. 
   Men's seeded winners -- No. 2 Federer, No. 3 Andy "Bill" Murray, No. 6 Tomas "Free As A" Berdych, No. 10 "San" Rafael Nadal, No. 12 Gilles "Paul" Simon, No. 13 Jo-Wilfried "Sing A" Tsonga, No. 15 "Jose" Feliciano Lopez, No. 18 Gael "Sayers" Monfils, No. 20 Roberto "Clemente" Bautista Agut, No. 22 Viktor "Leon" Troicki, No. 23 "Dr." Ivo Karlovic, No. 25 Andreas Seppi "Blatter," No. 30 Fabio "Lanzoni" Fognini. 
   Men's seeded losers -- No. 29 Guillermo "Vilas" Garcia-Lopez, No. 31 Jack "Anybody Seen My" Sock.
No. 3 seed Simona Halep, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, fell
to Jana Cepelova of the Czech Republic. 2015 photo by Paul Bauman
   Women's seeded winners -- No. 2 Kvitova, No. 5 "Sweet" Caroline Wozniacki, No. 8 Ekaterina "Do The" Makarova, No. 10 Angelique "Jolie" Kerber, No. 13 Agnieszka "Moorehead" Radwanska, No. 15 Timea "Ted" Bacsinszky, No. 17 Elina "Horne" Svitolina, No. 18 Sabine Lisicki "To My Stomach," No. 20 Garbine Muguruza "Bader Ginsburg," No. 25 Alize "Doolittle" Cornet, No. 26 Svetlana "Turner" Kuznetsova, No. 28 Jelena "Weird Al" Jankovic, No. 31 Camila Giorgi "Girl."  
   Women's seeded losers -- No. 3 Halep, No. 12 Bouchard.
   Stars and stripes -- Sock, seeded in singles a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, lost to Australia's Sam "Adams" Groth 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. Sock is defending his Wimbledon men's doubles title with Vasek "Anything Is" Pospisil of Canada. Groth holds the unofficial record for the world's fastest serve with a 163.4-mph (263-kph) missile in the 2012 Challenger in Busan, South Korea. See my story here.
   Pending the outcome of No. 21 Madison "Where The Hell Are My" Keys' suspended match, the United States has seven or eight women and four men in the second round. Keys is tied with Stephanie "Powers" Voegele at 2-2 in the third set.
   Fast fact -- Bouchard became the first Wimbledon finalist to lose her opening match at the All England Club the following year since Steffi Graf in 1994.
   Northern California connection -- "Yosemite" Sam Querrey, a 27-year-old San Francisco native, had 30 aces in his 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 victory over qualifier Igor "Stravinsky" Sijsling of the Netherlands. Querrey next plays Federer, who leads the head-to-head series 2-0 without losing a set. They last met seven years ago in the first round of the French Open.
   "Cookie" Jarmila Gajdosova, who is scheduled play for the new Sacramento-based California Dream of World TeamTennis after Wimbledon, lost to Lisicki 7-5, 6-4. Lisicki reached the Wimbledon final two years ago, losing to Marion "Cotillard" Bartoli.
   Quote -- Bouchard, on her tailspin: "It's really just been kind of eye-opening, a learning experience. But I'm good for the learning experience to be over now.''
   Wednesday's top matches (beginning at 5 a.m. PDT on ESPN) -- Centre Court: Novak "It's No" Djokovic (1) vs. Jarkko "LeRoy" Nieminen, "Special" Kei Nishikori vs. Santiago Giraldo "Rivera," Serena "Vanessa" Williams vs. Timea "Lincecum" Babos.
   Court 1: Milos "And Otis" Raonic (7) vs. Tommy "White" Haas, Daniela "Radcliffe" Hantuchova vs. Heather "Elementary My Dear" Watson, Stan "The Man" Wawrinka (4) vs. Victor "Hugo" Estrella Burgos.

Day 1: Hewitt loses marathon in his last Wimbledon

Lleyton Hewitt fell to Jarkko Nieminen in a 4-hour battle.
2013 photo by Paul Bauman
   Match of the day -- In the last Wimbledon for both players, Lleyton Hewitt "Packard" of Australia lost to Jarkko "LeRoy" Nieminen of Finland 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, 11-9 in 4 hours. Hewitt, the 2002 champion, turned 34 on Feb. 24. He will play doubles with 19-year-old countryman Thanasi Kokkinakis. Nieminen will celebrate his 34th birthday on July 23. 
   Upset of the day -- Latvian wild card Jelena Ostapenko, last year's junior girls singles champion, ousted No. 9 Carla "Bruni" Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-2, 6-0 in 52 minutes. 
   Notable -- Australian qualifier John Millman -- a quarterfinalist in Napa, semifinalist in Sacramento and runner-up in Tiburon on the three-week Northern California Challenger swing last fall -- surprised 19th-seeded Tommy "Holy" Robredo 6-2, 6-3, 6-4. It was the 26-year-old Millman's first singles main-draw victory in a Grand Slam tournament and his first main-draw match in a Slam other than the Australian Open. See my 2014 profile of Millman here.
   Men's seeded winners -- No. 1 Novak "It's No" Djokovic, No. 4 Stan "The Man" Wawrinka, No. 5 "Special" Kei Nishikori, No. 7 Milos "And Otis" Raonic, No. 9 Marin "County" Cilic, No. 11 Grigor "Mortis"  Dimitrov, No. 14 Kevin Anderson "Cooper," No. 16 David "Gerry" Goffin, No. 17 John "Wayne" Isner, No. 21 Richard "Don't Blow A" Gasquet, No. 24 Leonardo "Da Vinci" Mayer, No. 26 Nick "I'm Just" Kyrgios, No. 27 Bernard "A." Tomic, No. 32 Dominic "Home" Thiem.  
   Men's seeded losers -- No. 19 Robredo, No. 28 Pablo "Cruise" Cuevas.
   Women's seeded winners -- No. 1 Serena "Vanessa" Williams, No. 4 Maria "Shriver" Sharapova, No. 6 "I Love" Lucie Safarova, No. 7 Ana "Karenina" Ivanovic, No. 11 "North" Karolina Pliskova, No. 14 Andrea Petkovic "Park," No. 16 Venus "And Mars" Williams, No. 19 Sara "No Runs, No Hits, No" Errani, No. 22 Samantha "Stephens" Stosur, No. 23 Victoria "Station" Azarenka, No. 29 Irina-Camelia "Ain't Too Proud To" Begu, No. 30 Belinda "Johnny" Bencic. 
   Women's seeded losers -- No. 9 Navarro, No. 24 Flavia "Adriano" Pennetta, No. 27 Barbora "Streisand" Strycova.
   Stars and stripes -- U.S. women went 6-6 (including one all-American match), and the men went 3-1. Sloane "Ranger" Stephens and wild card Denis "The Menace" Kudla knocked off low seeds, and qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands "Of Time" eliminated French Open quarterfinalist Alison "Moving" Van Uytvanck.
   Alison "Take A" Riske almost pulled off a major upset, falling to No. 6 seed and French Open runner-up Safarova 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. Riske served for the match at 5-4 in the second set.
   Two young American women, Shelby "Ginger" Rogers and Madison "Avenue" Brengle, were shut out. Petkovic annihilated Rogers, 22, in 38 minutes, and Venus Williams drubbed Brengle, 25, in 41 minutes.
   Fast fact -- Tommy "White" Haas became the oldest winner of a men's singles match at Wimbledon since Jimmy "Carter" Connors was 38 in 1991. Haas, a 37-year-old German, beat Serbia's Dusan Lajovic, playing one day before his 25th birthday, 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.
   Northern California connection -- Nicole "Kidman" Gibbs, a two-time NCAA singles champion from Stanford, lost to Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-3, 6-3. Gibbs, 22, made her Wimbledon main-draw debut.
   Quote -- Hewitt on Wimbledon: "For me, it's the home of tennis. I don't get the same feeling walking into any other grounds in the world -- no other tennis court, no other complex -- than I do here. I do get goosebumps walking into this place."
   Today's top matches (beginning at 5 a.m. PDT on ESPN) -- Centre Court: Petra "-Fied Forest" Kvitova (2) vs. Kiki "Dee" Bertens, Roger Federer "Express" (2) vs. Damir Dzumhur, Andy "Bill" Murray (3) vs. Mikhail "Gorbachev" Kukushkin.
   Court 1: "San" Rafael Nadal (10) vs. Thomaz "John" Bellucci, Simona "I Need" Halep (3) vs. Jana "Novotna" Cepelova, Tomas "Free As A" Berdych (6) vs. Jeremy "Don't Be" Chardy.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Players to watch at Wimbledon

   Wimbledon begins today (4 a.m.-1:30 p.m. PDT on ESPN) and continues through July 12. Seedings are in parentheses.
Novak Djokovic seeks his second straight Wimbledon title
and third overall. 2015 photo by Paul Bauman
MEN
 Novak Djokovic (1)
   Why he'll win -- Djokovic captured the title last year and in 2011, he's in his prime at 28, and he'll have extra motivation after his upset loss to Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final. Plus, his three biggest traditional rivals -- Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray -- are in the other half of the draw.
   Why he won't -- After Wawrinka snapped Djokovic's winning streak at 28 matches in Paris, Djokovic played no grass-court tuneup tournaments to rest mentally. But it worked for him last year. Andy Murray, in particular, could dethrone Djokovic at Wimbledon.
   Northern California connection -- None.
Roger Federer (2)
   Why he'll win -- Federer shares the men's record of seven Wimbledon singles titles with Pete Sampras and Willie Renshaw (who played in the 1880s). Federer extended Djokovic to 6-4 in the fifth set in last year's Wimbledon final and won Halle, Germany, on grass for the eighth time two weeks ago.
   Why he won't -- Federer will be 34 in August and hasn't won a Grand Slam title since earning his record 17th at Wimbledon three years ago.
   NorCal connection -- None.
Andy Murray (3)
   Why he'll win -- Murray is returning to form after beating Djokovic in the Wimbledon final two years ago, ending Great Britain's men's title drought at 77 years, and undergoing minor back surgery that September. Murray won his fourth title at Queen's Club two weeks ago on grass in London.
   Why he won't -- He has lost to Djokovic late in the last three Grand Slam tournaments. Murray might have to beat two-time semifinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round, Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, Federer in the semifinals and Djokovic in the final.
   NorCal connection -- Murray went 10-0 in the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose, winning the title in 2006 at 18 years old and in 2007. He also won the Aptos Challenger in 2005.
Stan Wawrinka (4)
   Why he'll win -- The 30-year-old Swiss is coming off his second Grand Slam singles title, having upset Djokovic in the French Open final. Wawrinka reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year after winning one match in his previous four appearances at the All England Club.
   Why he won't -- Wawrinka will suffer a letdown after winning the French Open, he lost to hard-serving Kevin Anderson in the second round at Queen's Club, and he has a tough draw. Wawrinka could face another big server, Milos Raonic, in the quarterfinals, Djokovic in the semifinals and Federer or Murray in the final.
   NorCal connection -- None.
Tomas Berdych (6)
   Why he'll win --The 29-year-old Czech was the runner-up to Nadal at Wimbledon in 2010, he's ready to take the next step, and all the attention is on the Big Five (which now includes Wawrinka).
   Why he won't -- Berdych is a headcase who has not reached a Grand Slam final since Wimbledon in 2010. He lost to 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Ivo Karlovic in the Halle quarterfinals, although there's no shame in that.
   NorCal connection -- Berdych made the quarterfinals of the 2009 SAP Open as the fifth seed in his only San Jose appearance. 
Milos Raonic (7)
   Why he'll win -- With a massive serve at 6-foot-5 (1.96 meters), the 24-year-old Canadian is widely considered a future Grand Slam champion. Raonic advanced to the Wimbledon semifinals last year after losing in the second round of his first three showings at the All England Club.
   Why he won't -- Raonic underwent surgery for a pinched nerve in his right foot on May 13 and missed the French Open. He lost to Gilles Simon in the quarterfinals at Queen's Club, and he has a brutal draw at Wimbledon. Raonic could play 26th-seeded Nick Kyrgios, who stunned Nadal in the fourth round last year, in the third round; 11th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, a semifinalist in 2014, in the fourth round; Wawrinka in the quarterfinals; Djokovic in the semifinals; and Federer or Murray in the final.
   NorCal connection -- Raonic never lost a set in 13 career matches in the SAP Open, winning the last three titles (2011-13).
Marin Cilic (9)
   Why he'll win -- The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Croatian's big serve and forehand carried him to last year's U.S. Open title. Also in 2014, he reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time, leading Djokovic two sets to one before falling. 
   Why he won't -- Cilic played only one tournament in the first three months of the year because of a right (serving) shoulder injury. In his two grass-court tuneup tournaments, he lost to Viktor Troicki of Serbia in the second round and semifinals. At Wimbledon, Cilic might have to get past 17th-seeded John Isner in the third round, fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori in the fourth round and Djokovic in the quarterfinals. 
   NorCal connection -- None.
Rafael Nadal (10)    
   Why he'll win -- Nadal reached the Wimbledon final in five consecutive appearances, winning in 2008 and 2010. Three weeks ago at Stuttgart, he won his first grass-court title since Wimbledon in 2010.
   Why he won't -- Since his hot streak at Wimbledon, Nadal has failed to make the quarterfinals in any of the past three years. After winning Stuttgart, he lost in the first round at Queen's Club to Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine. Nadal's Wimbledon draw is no picnic, either, with potential matchups against Troicki (whom the Spaniard beat in the Stuttgart final) in the third round, Murray in the quarters, Federer in the semis and Djokovic in the final. Overall, Nadal has had a disappointing year and could be in decline.
   NorCal connection -- None.
Prediction
   Djokovic will bounce back from his loss to Wawrinka in the French Open final to claim his third Wimbledon title. A Djokovic-Murray final could be a classic.
For the first time in her illustrious career, Serena Williams is half-
way to a calendar-year Grand Slam. 2014 photo by Paul Bauman
WOMEN
Serena Williams (1)
   Why she'll win -- The 33-year-old American has won five Wimbledon singles championships (2002, 2003, 2009, 2010 and 2012) and the last three Grand Slams. She is motivated to pull within one title of a calendar-year Grand Slam and win her 21st major singles crown, one behind second-place Steffi Graf and three behind Margaret Court on the all-time list.
   Why she won't -- Williams has failed to reach the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in the past two years.
   NorCal connection -- Williams will seek her second straight Bank of the West Classic title and fourth overall Aug. 3-9 at Stanford.
Petra Kvitova (2)
   Why she'll win -- The powerful left-hander has advanced to the quarterfinals or better at Wimbledon in each of the past five years, including titles in 2011 and 2014.
   Why she won't -- Kvitova withdrew from last week's tournament in Eastbourne with an undisclosed illness, saying she needed "to be in bed and drink hot tea." She is 1-5 vs. Williams (not including a walkover victory), with the win coming on clay in the Madrid semifinals (6-2, 6-3) in early May.
   NorCal connection -- None.
  Simona Halep (3)
   Why she'll win -- Halep reached last year's French Open final and Wimbledon semifinals, dismissing 2013 runner-up Sabine Lisicki  6-4, 6-0 in the quarterfinals at the All England Club. Halep had failed to advance past the second round in her three previous Wimbledons.
   Why she won't -- At 5-foot-6 (1.68 meters), the 23-year-old Romanian lacks the power of taller players. She lost to 5-foot-11 (1.81-meter) Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the second round of the French Open. Then again, Lisicki is 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters).
   NorCal connection -- Halep lost to Lisicki in the first round of the 2011 Bank of the West Classic in her only appearance at Stanford.
Maria Sharapova (4)
   Why she'll win -- Sharapova won the first of her five Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon as a 17-year-old in 2004, upsetting Williams in the final.
   Why she won't -- Since 2004, Sharapova has returned to the Wimbledon final only once, losing to Kvitova 6-3, 6-4 in 2011. Aside from that, Sharapova has failed to reach the quarterfinals since a semifinal showing in 2006. If she makes it to the semis this year, she could face Williams, against whom she's 2-17 with a 16-match losing streak dating to 2004.
   NorCal connection -- Sharapova was the runner-up to Victoria Azarenka in the 2010 Bank of the West Classic.
Lucie Safarova (6) 
   Why she'll win -- The 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) left-hander reached her first Grand Slam singles semifinal last year at Wimbledon at 27 years old and was the runner-up to Williams in this year's French Open.
   Why she won't -- Safarova could face Sharapova in the quarters, Williams in the semis and Kvitova in the final. The trio have combined for eight Wimbledon singles crowns. In Safarova's only tuneup tournament, she lost her opening match in Eastbourne last week to Dominika Cibulkova.
   NorCal connection -- None.
  Angelique Kerber (10) 
   Why she'll win -- The 5-foot-8 left-hander reached the Wimbledon semifinals three years ago and won the title at Birmingham two weeks ago in her only grass-court tuneup tournament.
   Why she won't -- Kerber, 27, has yet to reach a Grand Slam final.
   NorCal connection -- Kerber was the runner-up to Williams in last year's Bank of the West Classic.
Sabine Lisicki (18) 
   Why she'll win -- Lisicki has used her booming serve to gain the quarterfinals or better in her last five Wimbledon appearances. She ousted Williams in the fourth round two years ago en route to the final, in which she lost to Marion Bartoli. Lisicki blasted a record 27 aces in her second-round victory over Belinda Bencic in Birmingham.
   Why she won't -- Lisicki, playing in her first and only Grand Slam singles final, choked in her 6-1, 6-4 loss to Bartoli. This month, Lisicki lost to Kerber 6-3, 6-3 in the Birmingham semifinals in her only tuneup tournament. Lisicki is 1-3 lifetime against Williams.
   NorCal connection -- Lisicki reached the semifinals of the Bank of the West Classic in 2011 and  slugged a record 131-mph (210.8-kph) serve in her first-round loss to Ana Ivanovic last year at Stanford.
Madison Keys (21) 
   Why she'll win -- Like Williams and Lisicki, the 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) Keys has the power to excel at Wimbledon. And Keys is only 20. She reached her first Grand Slam semifinal in this year's Australian Open, saving eight match points in a 7-6 (5), 6-2 loss to Williams.
   Why she won't -- Keys has lost in the third round in each of her two Wimbledon showings, retiring with a thigh injury last year against Yaroslava Shvedova. In Keys' only grass-court tuneup tournament this year, she lost to Bencic, an 18-year-old rising star from Switzerland, 6-2, 6-2 in the second round at Eastbourne. 
   NorCal connection -- Keys is scheduled to make her second appearance in the Bank of the West Classic after falling in the second round two years ago.
Prediction
   This is the first time in Williams' illustrious career that she has been halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam. She'll extend that to three-quarters.