Things We Learned on Day Two of 2014 Wimbledon


1. Can we not?

2. Sara Errani is obviously not much of a threat on grass, but it was still a good win for Caroline Garcia, who beat the World No. 14 in three sets in the resumption of a suspended match, after saving a match point yesterday. Madison Keys, also looking good, picked up where she left off after winning her first title in Eastbourne by beating Monica Puig in straights. I’m curious to see which young WTA players do well at this tournament, because it seems like it’s a different one every week.

3. This was fun:

4. Speaking of Rafael Nadal’s volleying talent, there was a lot of discussion on this topic going around, thanks to John McEnroe’s continued insistence that Nadal is the best volleyer on tour, a claim that has gotten far too much play, with not enough scrutiny.

Rafa has very good hands up at the net. He picks his spots intelligently, resulting in a high percentage of points won whenever he comes to the net.

However, you cannot single out a player who hardly comes to the net as the “best volleyer on the ATP Tour.” It’s just silly. It would be a similarly misguided extrapolation to taking a sprinter’s pace and assuming it would apply to a longer distance race with no adjustment. If he’s playing 10 points up at the net and winning eight of them, that doesn’t mean he would win 40 out of 50 if he came to the net 50 times per match. If he stopped picking his spots so well, he wouldn’t be nearly as successful at the net. And that’s fine; he does very well hitting from the back of the court.

One could say that Rafa is an underrated volleyer, as Roddick did above. One could argue that Rafa is the best volleyer out of the Big Four, or the top 10. But there’s no need to be so dramatic about it, and declare him the volleying GOAT or the best on tour. He’s already pretty good at tennis, so there’s absolutely no need to exaggerate his accomplishments.

There aren’t that many truly great volleyers on tour anymore, but I’d probably choose Radek Stepanek as the best active volleyer. I suspect Nadal himself would laugh at anyone singling him out as the best in that department.

5. Only Benoit Paire would say this about Wimbledon.


1. John McEnroe was in typically atrocious form today, completely derailing the morning talk segment (which lasted until 7:27, 27 minutes into ESPN’s coverage and 57 minutes into play) and a few matches with his unfounded rants and tangents.

Amy has covered the volleying talk. In the studio, he couldn’t stop talking about how men couldn’t win majors after they became fathers–citing Federer as an example, since he’s only won one Slam since becoming a dad. In McEnroe’s eyes, now that Federer has four kids, there’s no chance. He also mentioned that Djokovic had better hurry up and win now before the baby comes!

Not once during this conversation did he ever mention the fact that, you know, most of the time male tennis players are older when they have kids. Perhaps age has something to do with it?

Also, he completely forgot about Stan Wawrinka, who has played his best tennis since becoming a father, and who happened to just win a Slam.

In the studio, Brad Gilbert couldn’t get a word in, CHRISSIE of all people kept trying to steer the topics of conversation back to something reasonable, and Chris Fowler only had enough time to scoff. When you make the rest of the ESPN crew look sane and leave me dying for Gilbert and Evert to have the floor, you’ve really made a mess of things.

Anyways, it’s infuriating to have this drivel override the conversations and take away from real news and tennis analysis (if not, you know, LIVE TENNIS).

2. Speaking of Wawrinka, when McEnroe was talking about Stan, he was awfully dismissive to the Australian Open champion in the booth. He said something along the lines of “Stan would probably be happy just to make the quarterfinals here” and scoffed while calling his Australian Open victory “unbelievable.”

People (not just JMac) act like Wawrinka’s Australian Open win came out of nowhere, when in reality he had pushed Djokovic to the brink in two Slams in the past year, made the semifinals of the U.S. Open, and made the semifinals of the World Tour Finals. Plus, he had won a tournament the week before! Yes, it was a surprise, but it’s not like he was a nobody! There had been a gradual ascension.

3. This is a great piece by Ben Rothenberg on the lucky loser drawing at majors. I didn’t realize that Gimelstob was essentially to blame for the current lottery system.

Also, I feel like there needs to be some sort of penalty for withdrawing from a major after qualies have started. Is there? It seems like a little extra incentive for these players to get their paperwork in earlier would be good. I know that sometimes it’s worth waiting until the last minute to see if you can play, but it is a shame for these qualifiers who would have made it directly into the main draw, and for the players who subsequently couldn’t enter the qualifying draw.

4. I also loved this anecdote from Tom Perrotta, who ended up riding in a cab driven by James Ward’s father.

5. In case you ever doubted, more proof that Boris Becker really loves Boris Becker.

6. I love how this tweet implies that the latter negates the former.

I’m pretty sure that Dancevic’s complaints were valid.

7. Let’s take a look at the Americans, shall we?

Sam Querrey came back and served out his match against Bradley Klahn that was suspended yesterday. Apparently he’s feeling pretty good these days:

John Isner also advanced in straight sets (a routine win in a Slam!), and Denis Kudla and Jack Sock moved through too.

Serena beat newly-minted American Anna Tatishvili, Madison Keys continued her good form by taking out last year’s fourth-rounder Monica Puig, and Victoria Duval and Alison Riske had great wins, taking out Cirstea and Pavs, respectively. Varvara Lepchenko surprised, beating Wimbledon GOAT Tsvetana Pironkova in three sets.

Besides the two Americans who lost to other Americans (Tatishvili and Klahn), the only other Team USA losses today were Michael Russell, Christina McHale, and Taylor Townsend.

Overall, not a bad day at all for the red, white, and blue.

8. Guess what? TRANSCRIPTS!!! After the French Open where we only had access to two-minute presser snippets, having the transcripts released on a 24-hour delay is just the BEST. I’ll try and scour through them on a daily basis and bring you my favorite random snippet from the previous day.

For today, I leave you with Vika’s love of painting:

Q. Tennis is sometimes described as a profession, sometimes it’s called a sport, other times it’s called an art. You spoke about learning you had a joy of painting. Talk about the joy of your art, dealing with space and color.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, the painting came to me just kind of all of a sudden. I just wanted to try it. I feel it’s one of the best ways to express your emotion because I don’t look at it as an outlet to paint something and I’m going to sell the painting or to make money out of that. For me it’s just to express what it is.

At first‑‑ I’ll tell you a funny story. I start painting. I don’t know what in the hell I paint. I was like, Okay, I feel very emotional right now. I am just going to put all the colors. I started doing it with my hands. I didn’t want to wash my hands, so I just did like that on my shirt.

Then I forget. It dried out. I put the shirt on. I walked outside because I was lazy. People were like, Wow, that’s such an amazing shirt, where did you get it? I was like, Really? They were like, It’s so cool. I actually had a meeting with Nike. I said, I can make many more like that if you want to. Come to my house, we’ll just do that and stuff.

Then I had some friends over. I had a big canvas. I wanted to see what people want to bring to the painting, what they think about it. I gave each of my friends their space, like a corner or whatever. We builded that painting that I posted with the hands. I felt like it’s just emotions and the thoughts of people you care about in one thing and I can keep it in my house.

Q. Last year’s champion is really into art. Who are some of your favorite artists?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: To be honest, I’m not very educated yet on the art piece. I was actually the other day talking about that with Ernests Gulbis. He’s very smart actually. He was telling me about the history of art a little bit, you know, the Impressionists and how the black square that came out, and I didn’t know it was the point of where people didn’t really know what to do next, and then they started reinventing art. That was really fun for me. I learned some things, but I think I will be more interested in knowing the history more once I get into it.

9. I already feel so behind, you guys. The first days of Slams are just too much. It’s a blast, though isn’t it? Although, as I said on Twitter today, I feel like this tournament could use a spark. There haven’t been any jaw-dropping matches that left everyone buzzing, or earth-shattering upsets yet. Hopefully this means the fireworks are coming soon!

6 Responses

  1. Moo Tennis
    Moo Tennis June 24, 2014 at 7:06 pm |

    Really enjoy these posts, i always find something I missed! Keep it up 🙂

    Riske was brilliant today against Pavs. So many players would have lost in two, but Riske fought so incredibly well. Her attitude and fighting spirit on court is always exemplary and really got her the win today against Pavs, who wilted in the decider. Can’t wait for some of the second round matches on Thursday, the line-up is going to be brilliant.

  2. Joe
    Joe June 24, 2014 at 8:36 pm |

    Although your larger point was about McEnroe’s ridiculous comments about not winning majors after having children (and they were ridiculous), you also alluded to my bigger problem with the morning studio segment.

    Why do we not actually get to see any tennis until almost an hour of play has gone by? That drives me insane, and it always has, even when the topic of discussion isn’t as absurd as it was this morning. With as much talking as the ESPN announcers do during matches (often about things other than the match being shown on the screen), I’m certain there are plenty of other opportunities to discuss the things they cover in that opening studio segment. The Wimbledon days go by so quickly (criticize them all you want, but I’m a sucker for marathon days with night sessions afterward) and we spend 5% of the total coverage time in the studio before we see a single ball hit.

    Thankfully, I have DirecTV and the Wimbledon Mix coverage has been a godsend. But I’d still like to be able to tune into ESPN without fear of watching people talk rather than live tennis.

  3. q10
    q10 June 24, 2014 at 9:21 pm |

    Good day for the Americans, as an Aussie I’m not too optimistic about our successes on day 3 compared to day 1
    And nice article about LL, it’s a shame about Smyczek but he really appears to have a great outlook in saying that he should’ve qualified on his on merits

  4. Yolita
    Yolita June 24, 2014 at 11:09 pm |

    Very nice piece. 🙂

    I’m very glad you quoted Azarenka’s comments about Gulbis talking to her about the history of art.

    I’m not surprised in the least, it’s obvious that he’s a very well educated guy, and that fact sometimes gets lost with people too busy recting to his humour/comments.

    1. Lindsay
      Lindsay June 25, 2014 at 9:56 am |


      And, well, you can be well educated and still be an idiot 🙂

  5. Ana
    Ana June 25, 2014 at 12:49 am |

    To add to Amy’s #4, it is also absurd to refer to Rafa as “the best volleyer on tour” when an entire segment of the ATP spends vastly more time at the net than a) he does or b) most singles players do. Yes, I am referring to doubles specialists. McEnroe has already established that he’s pretty ignorant about that part of the ATP and the way the doubles game has evolved since he retired, so I wouldn’t expect him to keep doubles players in mind while making his assessments. But can the rest of us try to remember that they exist? Or at least to specify that we’re only considering singles players instead of using the all-encompassing phrase “on tour”?

    As for Stepanek, I enjoy watching him play, not least for the variety he brings to the game. It’s not incidental, though, that his greatest success has come in doubles, whether in Slams or his Davis Cup partnership with Berdych.

    Grumpily (& with apologies to Amy if it sounds like I’m irritated at her–which, I assure you, I am not),

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