By Jane Voigt
Wimbledon’s Middle Sunday is unique. No other Grand Slam breaks up the two weeks of competition. This tradition sets apart The All England Club, creating an environment that many perceive as valuable to its culture. It goes along with all-white clothing, the daily queue for those limited number of tickets, plus silence during play no matter the level of excitement. This is the English way.
Manic Monday, a rather abrasive label considering the haughty nature of the event, is also a Wimbledon tradition. It follows the day of rest; and, quite clearly from a fans point of view, is only manic because of the many matches on tap. All players who advanced to the fourth round, also called the round of sixteen, play tomorrow.
On the women’s singles side, 6 Grand Slam champions are poised: Angelique Kerber
(No. 1), Garbine Muguruza (No. 14), Svetlana Kuznetsova (No. 7), Venus Williams (No. 10), Jelena Ostapenko (No. 13) and Victoria Azarenka, who is unseeded.
On the men’s side, there are 5 … The Big Four and Marin Cilic (No. 7). You didn’t think that the top four seeds — Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal — would not have been here, did you? One of the quartette has taken 44 of the last 49 major major titles. Given that comparison, odds are one will do the same come a week Sunday.
But no one knows for sure, which makes the upcoming week even that more exciting.
The order of play prepares you for Monday’s juicy match-ups.
One in high demand: Ostapenko, the hard-hitting French Open winner who upset the entire tennis world with that unexpected victory, and Elina Svitolina, the number four seed from Ukraine.
These two are the future of the women’s game. Ostapenko is 20 and Svitolina is 22. The Latvian, Jelena, has one title – The French Open. Svitolina has 8. They have never played each other and what better way to be introduced?
Svitolina has the best record on the women’s tour, 36-8. She lost a heartache of a quarterfinal to Simona Halep – the highest seed, No. 2, left in the draw — last month in Paris, having had match points. Word was she wouldn’t be at Wimbledon, due to an injury. But Svitolina doesn’t sit around knowing the competition bites at her heels. She also won Rome, Istanbul, Dubai, and Taipei City.
Even knowing these stats and comparisons, it’s fair to say that all bets are off for tomorrow. The nature of Grand Slams — with the points and prestige — provokes all sorts of adrenalin. They will go at each other, literally, until the last breath of air is drained from their tired bodies and the victor accepts the accolades and a berth in the quarterfinals.
The Brits will be focused on their two best bets: Sir Andy Murray, the defending champion, and Johanna Konta (No. 6).
Konta is new to the second week at Wimbledon, but not to the second week of a major. She made the semifinal and quarterfinal at The Australian Open in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Perhaps that’s because she was born in Sydney to Hungarian parents. However, she left for Barcelona to pursue a pro-tennis career when she was 14. After her parents relocated to England, Johanna joined them and became a citizen in 2012.
Konta has a champion’s mind. In one of the best matches so far, she defeated an aggressive Donna Vekic, 7-6(4), 4-6, 10-8. Both played their absolute best in set three. It was quick-hit tennis, something that’s been on the wane for the past decade. For the match Konta was 54-21, winners to errors; and, Vekic was 40-22. Konta impressed crowds when they were tied 8-8. The back-and-forth was surely draining their energy stockpiles. As a result, Konta stepped in off the baseline, added pace to her groundstrokes, and took more risks on serve. That type of determination that deep in a match is remarkable for its edgy competitiveness and overwhelming drive to dominant.
Konta meets Caroline Garcia (No. 14) of France. Unless Konta gets the shakes, look for her to advance to the quarterfinals and, perhaps, farther. She is one to watch to win.
The sentimental favorites are Roger Federer and Venus Williams. They are both contenders for the title at 35 and 37, respectively. For Federer, it would be his 8th. For Williams, it would be her 6th.
Federer’s road to the final is a tough one. On Monday he’ll meet Grigor Dimitrov (No. 13). He has never beaten Federer in their six meetings, but the Bulgarian has not dropped a set and is a superb athlete with a game modeled after, who else, Federer.
Williams plays Ana Konjuh (No. 27) of Croatia. She knocked out number-eight seed Dominic Cibulkova yesterday in a masterful upset. She has performed well in the grass-court warmup tournaments and is a player who has been on the radar. She is a neophyte in fourth-round encounters, having never been beyond the second round of any major.
That’s not to say tomorrow isn’t her day.
The thrill of Manic Monday is the volume of players and matches on queue. The number will drop by half, come the end of the day. Make sure you have your order of play nearby, your favorite viewing device powered up, and a cup of tea or Pimms to make it all quite English.