The first week of Wimbledon 2016 is now in the books after a rare Sunday’s play. The tournament saw play on Middle Sunday for the first time since 2004 due to many a rain delay throughout the week, providing the opportunity for fans to get onto Centre Court without queuing as all tickets were sold online.
French Open Champions Vanquished
There is no doubt what the biggest story of the tournament is so far and that is Novak Djokovic losing in the first week of a slam for the first time since the 2009 French Open. All looked to be going to plan for the World No.1 and his run for the career grand slam after early round wins over James Ward and Adrian Mannarino and everyone expected the same would happen against Sam Querrey in round three.
Djokovic found himself down two sets at the close of play on Friday, much like his match again Kevin Anderson last year. There were rumours surrounding his Saturday morning training session that he didn’t look 100% but an early break for Djokovic to begin made it seem like it was all set for the champion to win in five and when he served for the fourth set it seemed even more likely. However, he would fail to serve it out and it would go to a tiebreak. Djokovic twice held minibreak leads but he failed to hold on to them. Down 4-5, a forehand long gave Querrey two match points points. The first was saved but Djokovic couldn’t rescue the second, with a uncharacteristic forehand wide giving Sam Querrey the biggest victory of his life.
While all the focus was on Djokovic as expected, Garbine Muguruza also found herself on the losing end in week one and again to a surprise opponent in Jana Cepelova. While Cepelova made a name for herself last year in defeating Simona Halep, she has never been seen as a grass expert despite now having two top 5 wins on the surface. While Muguruza was a Wimbledon finalist last year, many felt that grass was her weakest surface and that it was her all round game along with a draw of softer hitters that aided her route to the final. Muguruza had lost in her one warm up match to Kirsten Flipkens in Mallorca but it was still seen as a surprise for her to depart so early having won her maiden slam in Paris.
Long matches are nothing new at Wimbledon with the difficulties some have in breaking serve on grass. Annika Beck and Lucie Safarova both earned 12-10 victories in the final set on the women’s side but the story of Sunday was the lengthy final set between John Isner and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Long matches are nothing new for the American who is most famous for his Mahut match here and it was him who had the first opportunity to take the match at 16-15 up. He failed to do so and not long after, Tsonga would break and hold for a 19-17 victory in the final set to make the second week. Less notably, Gilles Muller and Matthew Barton won fifth sets 15-13 and 14-12 respectively while Sam Querrey’s 12-10 over Rosol wasn’t even the most enthralling match he had all week.
No.18 or Murray Glory Again?
While Novak Djokovic losing early was a huge story in itself, it also will bring a lot of intrigue on who takes advantage to win. Andy Murray has been the losing finalist in both slams this year while Roger Federer was the losing finalist at Wimbledon in each of the past two years. Murray is now the heavy favourite with the bookmakers will need to navigate a route to the final that probably looks like this – Kyrgios, Tsonga and Tomas Berdych.
Meanwhile, Federer has been able to ease into week two with one of the easiest draws about. He will still likely need to beat Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori but it is a draw that provides him with one of his best chances ever to win 18 if he is now fully fit.
Serena Williams is having somewhat of a crisis right now, facing the possibility of going into the US Open without a slam title on her year record for the first tournament since the 2011 US Open. It sounds ridiculous that someone with two finals and a semi final to her name in the last three slams is suffering a ‘crisis’ but that is down to the exceptional level that Serena has held throughout her career.
Serena will always be the heavy favourite but will be relieved to see the a number of the players who have troubled her recently are out. Victoria Azarenka withdrew pre-tournament while Garbine Muguruza‘s loss has already been covered above. Petra Kvitova is a two time champion but disappointed once more to erase the chance of a potential semi final with Serena.
If Serena does make the final and with it the opportunity to pick up slam 22, there are a number of intriguing matchups from a Australian Open rematch with Angelique Kerber to Madison Keys, who has long been heralded as one of the top future stars of a post-Serena generation. Venus Williams is still going at 36 and is by no means out of the running to book another historic clash with her sister. Carla Suarez Navarro and probably Lucie Safarova stand between her and a place in the semi finals.