By Jane Voigt
Yesterday, Down The Tee picked six under-the-radar players to do well at Wimbledon. Four of those six are now in the round of sixteen.
On the men’s side we have Bernard Tomic and Jerzy Janowicz, who did not play today. And on the women’s side, we have Kaia Kanepi plus Tsvetana Pironkova.
These are our Big Four.
Bernard Tomic performed beautifully during his premier on Centre Court Wimbledon. The occasion didn’t seem to bother the talented 20-year-old from Australia. His opponent didn’t seem to bother him either, although Richard Gasquet came close to upsetting Tomic’s dream outcome. Gasquet was hunting for a pass to the fourth round for the third consecutive time. Tomic proved too obstinate and won 76(7) 57 75 76(5).
“I was nervous, but I couldn’t ask any more of myself,” Tomic told the Sydney Morning Herald. “I played a very good match and it’s difficult coming out first on Centre Court. Hopefully, I can keep it up.”
The same publication said Tomic ‘outfoxed’ Gasquet, which fits to a tee.
Tomic played with a devilish sense of rhythm, placement and overall court sense. He lulled Gasquet into points. The Frenchman looked in control, but a keen eye could discern the illusion. Tomic then changed the pace or spin or angle, pulling the grass out from underneath Gasquet’s feet. Tomic laid traps similar to this one on many occasions. Gasquet was left shaking his head and muttering to himself.
Tomic made the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2011. He next plays Tomas Berdych, the No. 7 seed.
Kaia Kanepi didn’t win many American fans today, when she defeated Wildcard Alison Riske. But the hard-hitting Estonian did win the match, 62 63, and a ticket to the round of sixteen.
Riske will leave Wimbledon confident and happy. She scored wins over Romina Oprandi, the No. 31 seed, in round one; and, she defeated Urszula Radwanska, coming from behind. Kanepi, though, had her by the ponytail most of the match.
Kanepi did not play Wimbledon last year due to injuries. However, her return to grass has spotlighted her power game and higher fitness level. Kanepi has played in three quarterfinals, during her career that began in 2000: Roland Garros; U. S. Open; and Wimbledon in 2010.
On Monday she will play the darling of the tournament: Laura Robson, the teen queen of England. Robson mesmerized fans today as she dug herself out of a certain flop to become the first British woman to make the fourth round at Wimbledon since 1998.
“I can definitely play better than I did today,” she said, as reported by Stuart Fraser on Wimbledon.com. “It’s tough to play your best tennis all the time. I’m just going to have to work on being super-consistent and go from there.”
Robson was out of the match in set two, as Marina Erakovic served at 5-4. But with a little luck from the net cord plus nerves from Erakovic, Robson reversed her fate to win 16 75 63.
Tsvetana Pironkova needed three sets to defeat Petra Martic, 61 46 62, today. Her victory marks the third time the Bulgarian has advanced to the round of sixteen at Wimbledon. She has one of the toughest opponents ahead, Agnieszka Radwanska, last year’s runner-up. Their games, though, are similar. They mix it up.
“I do have slice on my forehand, and I do have a good serve,” Pironkova said according to The New York Times. “I think mixing a little bit the game makes it even more interesting, because now the modern tennis is hitting, hitting, hitting.”
Three years back, Pironkova marched to the semifinals. She was ranked No. 82, at the time. Her mind wandered in the match. She pondered the possibility of playing her dream final at Wimbledon. Of course, she wobbled and lost to eventual champion, Vera Zvonareva. In 2011, though, returned to defeat both Zvonareva and Venus Williams on her way to a quarterfinal loss.
“I like fast games,” she said again through The New York Times. “I like the big courts. I like playing on the big courts. I like playing against big names. That gives me more confidence, more adrenaline, and I guess that’s what helps me.”
Pironkova should be a happy woman on Monday, given her appetite for big names and big courts. Although courts have not been assigned, she will likely meet Radwanska on a show court.
Everyone in the round of sixteen plays on Monday. Each will give their best performance to reach the quarterfinals of the 2013 Wimbledon Championships.