The People’s Sunday

Over 110,000 people tried for tickets into what was only the fourth People’s Sunday at Wimbledon today. Eighty percent walked away empty handed. The remainder were as happy as folks embarking on a summer’s vacation. 

The sun shined throughout the day, which meant no rain delays … a miracle in itself for such a rain-soaked start. Players felt somehow honored to have played on a rare occasion, as well.

“I’m on of the guys that loves tradition,” Tomas Berdych (No. 10) told ESPN after his victory over Alexander Zverev (No. 24), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1. “It’s only the fourth time playing on middle Sunday and I get to play on Centre Court. Not much better than that.”

Berdych moved into the coveted round of sixteen, with his win. He’ll be called on to play tomorrow, as will 31 additional players in the men’s and women’s singles draws who’ve made it this far. “Second Monday,” another tradition of Wimbledon, was aptly characterized by The Wall Street Journal as,  “The most gluttonous glorious day in tennis.”

Here are the match-ups for tomorrow:

Men’s Singles — First Quarter

This should’ve been Novak Djokovic’s section, but with his untimely loss yesterday opportunity knocks for Sam Querrey (No. 28) and unseeded Nicolas Mahut. The Frenchman has never gone beyond the third round at The All England Club. And, at the age of 34 he won’t have many more shots at a quarterfinal berth. Don’t count him out against the red-hot Querrey, either. Mahut and doubles partner Pierre Hughes-Herbert are the number-one seeded doubles team at Wimbledon. Mahut’s serve-and-volley penchant in singles and doubles will force Querrey to hit targets, run irregular patterns thus leaving his comfortable baseline game. 

American Sam Querrey will make his second round of sixteen appearance on Monday. Photo credit Leslie Billman

Milos Raonic (No. 6) is set to reach the quarterfinals, if he can surpass shrewd David Goffin (No. 11). The Belgian is a contrast in size and style compared to the hulking Raonic who has served 79 aces through three rounds. Raonic and Goffin last played in the semifinals of Indian Wells this spring. The Canadian triumphed then, but their head-to-head is tied at 1-1. 

Men’s Singles — Second Quarter

American Steve Johnson is the only unseeded player on this side of the draw to advance to the fourth round, his inaugural foray into a second week at a Grand Slam. He won his first title of his career last week on grass in Nottingham, as well. On the opposite side of the court will stand Roger Federer (No. 3) who Johnson has idolized. 

“He’s won this tournament a few times,” Johnson said, ESPN reported. “It’s going to be a great experience. I’m going to go out there thinking I’m going to be the winner. I have no fear out there.”

The second match-up in this quarter is a rematch of the 2014 U. S. Open final between Marin Cilic (No. 9) and Kei Nishikori (No. 5). Cilic, the Open champion, has advanced to two prior quarterfinals at Wimbledon: 2014 and 2015. Nishikori has equaled his best with this fourth round berth, but this slam remains the only one where he hasn’t reached the quarterfinals. 

“If I can win couple matches with good tennis I think I will get more confidence on grass and good rhythm,” Nishikori told the press before the tournament got underway. “I think first couple matches are very important for me here this week.”

Both men have only dropped one set, so far. 

Men’s Singles — Third Quarter

Watch out for 22-year-old Jiri Vesely. He stormed into the fourth round with convincing wins over Igor Sijsling, number-eight seed Dominic Thiem and, today, Joao Sousa (No. 31), 6-2, 6-2, 7-5. The Czech’s lefty serve will cause Tomas Berdych problems, but the occasion could trip-up Vesely … his first second week at any major. The compatriots are friends and fellow Davis Cup members, too, which could mess with Vessel’s mental strength.

Lucas Pouille (No. 32) is another 22-year-old on a mission to make his mark. He, too, has landed in unfamiliar grounds as this will be his first round of sixteen encounter. His opponent is Aussie Bernard Tomic (No. 19). He is but a year older than Pouille and has played in six Wimbledon Championships to the Frenchman’s one, making a maiden run to the quarterfinals as a qualifier in 2011. Pouille has never proven himself on grass, but chalked up a fine clay court season — a semifinal win in Rome, for example —  that propelled him upward in the rankings far enough to get a seed in this tournament. 

“I don’t know too much about him,” Tomic told the Sydney Morning Herald. “I have access and sit down with Lleyton [Hewitt] and the team and discuss what the best situation is o play him.”

Men’s Singles — Fourth Quarter

Jo-Wilfred Tsonga came back from 2 sets down today for the sixth time at a major. Photo credit Leslie Billman

After a four-and-half-hour win over American John Isner (No. 18) today — 6-7(5), 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2, 19-17 — Jo-Wilfred Tsonga (No. 12) could be mighty tired come tomorrow when he’ll face long-time friend Richard Gasquet (No. 7). The two have not played a match in three years and their head-to-head stands at 4-4; but, Gasquet defeated Tsonga in the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2007. Gasquet’s berth is his seventh trip to the last sixteen. 

All eyes will be on yet another Aussie, Nick Kyrgios (No. 15), who’ll meet England’s darling, Andy Murray (No. 2). The Scot has a dominant head-to-head against Kyrgios — 4-0 — but Nick has settled down somewhat and refined his game since they last played in the first round of the 2015 U. S. Open.  

“I’ve been watching Nick since he was 15,” Patrick Rafter said, The Telegraph reported. “I saw his first match at the Australian Open. We thought this kid could be good, but we didn’t think he’d be this good. Andy doesn’t want to see him in the fourth round.”

Women’s Singles — First Quarter

No one should doubt Serena Williams after her drubbing of Annika Beck, 6-3, 6-0, today, to pick up her 300th match win at a major. The defending champion lost zero points on serve in the second set. She’s made her mark in the grass, too, with a statement saying no one’s mentally tougher. 

Serena will meet Svetlana Kuznetsova (No. 13), who defeated Sloan Stephens (No. 18) today, 6-7(1), 6-2, 8-6. Stephens served for the win at 5-4 in the third but fumbled badly, whacking errors left and right. The Russian broke Stephens 7 times to her 4. “In the end that made the difference,” Lindsay Davenport said on ESPN.

Serena Williams notched her 300th major match win today, second only to 306 from Martina Navratilova. Photo credit Leslie Billman

“Serena is number one player in the world,” Kuznetsova told ESPN. “It’s a huge honor to play against her.”

Birthday celebrant Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (No. 21) moved into her first round of sixteen in five years, upsetting Timea Bacsinszky (No. 11), 6-3, 6-2. The 25-year-old will meet American Coco Vandeweghe who destroyed Roberta Vinci (No. 6), 6-3, 6-4. Grass is a friendly camping ground for the Californian. Her booming serve at six-foot-one wracks up free points and her forehand can finish off points quickly. She’s 11-1 on grass for the season, winning ’S-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands last month. 

Women’s Singles — Second Quarter

Get your popcorn ready for Agnieszka Radwanska (No. 3) and Dominika Cibulkova (No. 19). Two of the smaller women on tour, they rely on running and court craftsmanship. Radwanska was a semifinalist in 2015 and 2013, plus runner-up to Serena in 2012. It’s hard to bet against her, yet Cibulkova is a fiery momentum-driven woman now, having defeated Radwanska on her way to the title in Eastbourne just two weeks ago. 

Elena Vesnina was Charleston runner-up this year. Photo credit Leslie Billman

Of the two matches here, the more intriguing is the one between friends and doubles partners Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina. Neither was seeded for Wimbledon. Makarova, though, was seeded number eight just a year back. She has played in four quarterfinals at Wimbledon, so surely she is the more seasoned at this intersection. Yet, Vesnina’s season has been her best in years. She’s moved up past No. 100 to No. 50. But she has only played twice in the last 16; and, her forte has been doubles. She and Makarova won Roland Garros in 2013 and the U. S. Open in 2014. They are seeded fourth this year at Wimbledon. 

Women’s Singles — Third Quarter

Madison Keys (No. 9) is now an elite member of the top ten, joining compatriots Serena Williams at number-one and Venus Williams at number-eight. The flourishing Keys has tempered her game, not going for broke on 90% of points. Her consistency at majors is a result: she’ll play in her fourth consecutive fourth round tomorrow. She’s won eight grass-court matches in a row, now, and secured the title for the second time in Birmingham two weeks ago. 

Simona Halep (No. 5) will be a formidable challenge for the American. However, she has bashed through three rounds, two of which needed three sets. Her footwork is better, she comes to the net more often, and serves lights out. If she can dominate rallies, she has a chance. However, if she gets behind and allows Radwanska to dictate ball movement, then Keys will struggle.

Misaki Doi is the first Japanese woman to reach the round of sixteen since Ai Sugiyama in 2006. She’ll meet Angelique Kerber (No. 4) the Australian Open champion. Both are left-handed and both play from the baseline. Doi is at her highest WTA ranking, No. 38. At five-foot-three her foot speed will be key and Kerber’s anticipation will be Doi’s challenge.

Women’s Singles — Fourth Quarter

Venus Williams (No. 8) has played two 19-year-olds and a 20-year-old on her way to her 14th round of sixteen. She has used experience to edge these young women and will put the same to use against Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro (No. 12). The two met at Wimbledon in the third round, 2009, which Venus won. Their head-to-head is tied at 3-all, but Wimbledon is home away from home to Venus not Navarro. Williams will have had two days to rest, which should put her in good stead for the battle. 

Lucie Safarova’s strides after months on recovery and resurgence has paid off. Photo credit Leslie Billman

Surprise contestant Yaroslava Shvedova has mountains of talent, but lacks consistency. She can beat the best, but frequently beats herself with indecision and poor tactical selection. She defeated former runner-up Sabine Lisicki, 7-6(2), 6-1, which should help her confidence against 2014 semifinalist Lucie Safarova. The number 28-seed was expected to play Garbine Muguruza yesterday, but Qualifier Jana Cepelova had rubbed out the Roland Garros champion earlier in the week. Safarova finally got past Cepelova, 4-6, 6-1, 12-10. 

Top Five Matches to Keep Your Eyes On Monday

  1. Sam Querrey versus Nicolas Mahut
  2. Roger Federer and Stevie Johnson
  3. Nick Kyrgios and Andy Murray
  4. Simona Halep and Madison Keys
  5. Venus Williams and Carla Suarez Navarro




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