Things We Learned on Day One of 2014 Wimbledon


1. I was impressed by Maria Kirilenko’s performance in her first-round win over Sloane Stephens today. Stephens saved five match points in her final service game to force a tiebreak, and went up 5-2 in that tiebreak. However, Kirilenko came up with some incredible stuff to get to 6-all, including an absolutely ridiculous reflex lob to save set point, and sealed the win in straights. If Stephens had hit an easy put-away away from Kirilenko at 6-4, it would’ve gone three. It’s the best Kirilenko’s looked since returning to the WTA Tour, and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.

The problem for Stephens is that since she picks up hardly any ranking points outside of slams, she can’t really afford to lose in the first round here. With this loss, she will likely fall outside of the top 20. Any young player goes through some growing pains, but I’m not convinced that’s all this is.

2. Vika is not only back, but her shorts are also back!

3. It wasn’t pretty, but Azarenka beat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5, saving a handful of set points. If Azarenka can make it through the first few rounds, I could see her doing some damage here. We’ve seen her win tournaments with rusty play in the first few rounds. And after watching her first two matches back, I’m convinced that she’s healthy and fit enough to find her best game in the second week, if she can make it there.

4. I’m so confused about these tan lines. Does Tomas Berdych practice in his underwear?

5. If you haven’t already, check out the Wimbledon preview podcast I recorded along with Jeff and special guest Carl Bialik of ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight. We took an in-depth look at the women’s and men’s Wimbledon draws.


1. I’ve lamented on this site before that, whether it’s a defense mechanism or how she really feels, it just seems like Sloane Stephens doesn’t really and truly care about her tennis results.

Up until now, that blasé attitude has served her just fine in majors, where she made six straight second weeks and never lost to a player ranked below her. Of course, that ended today when she crashed out to a surprisingly in-form Maria Kirilenko. (Great to have her back, by the way.)

I am inclined to think that if Sloane’s attitude is ever going to change/improve, she’s going to have to feel consequences of it. Clearly doing well in the majors kept her ranking up, and until, like, last week there were no other young Americans taking over the spotlight.

We’ll see what happens, but it would be a shame if she can’t figure out a way to actually care about what she’s doing. Still, leave it to the lovely Matt Zemek to remind us to keep everything in perspective.

2. Mikhail Youzhny won today, and he was asked questions! The good thing is that he continues to be adorable.

3. The sky is blue, it rained at Wimbledon today, and Fabio Fognini played an unnecessarily dramatic match, taking out American qualifier Alex Kuznetsov 2-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 9-7.

I didn’t get to watch much of the match because life, but I’ll let Twitter take it from here. In no particular order:

Also, if you’re not following Fabio Fognini’s sister on Twitter, you’re doing things wrong.


5. This entire Wimbledon diary by Reem Abulleil is worth a read, but this part absolutely cracked me up:

I bumped into Alize Cornet outside the Southfields tube station, which was closed due to ongoing work.

The Frenchwoman somehow missed the countless signs saying the station was shut down and after squeezing through one of the out-ofservice access barriers, she was stopped by a baffled security guard who had to point out the obvious, after a furious Cornet asked him: “Why didn’t you tell us the station was closed?”

I think Cornet should stick to tournament transportation from now on.

6. I was at a meeting during the Coco Vandeweghe/Garbine Muguruza battle, but I’m very disappointed that there aren’t highlights to watch because the match wasn’t on a TV court! This once again proves how many cooks are in the kitchen (TOO MANY) in tennis, because having a battle of two rising stars–one who just had a huge breakthrough at the French Open and the other who just won a tournament on grass last week–unavailable to the public is just a shame. The WTA cannot be happy about that.

I understand that there are a billion matches to schedule and everyone has their own agendas and it’s literally impossible to please everyone. But sometimes tennis gets in the way of itself and it is just frustrating.

Vandeweghe ended up with the win, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 over Muguruza on her 12th match point. Yeah, I bet that was boring to watch.

(But seriously, it’s great to see Coco find her form. Such a powerful game. I’m hoping we get to see her battle Azarenka in the third round.)

7. As you guys know, things have slowed down over here at The Changeover this year. JJ is still swamped with his full-time job, and Amy and I (with an assist from Jeff) are doing the best we can to keep the site going despite increasingly limited free time. We love it here, and we love you guys, and want to keep this space alive. But we’re going to need your help!

We’ve had a lot of great contributors lately, and are looking for more. Have something you’d like to see on the site? Maybe you can write it! If you have any pitches during Wimbledon or beyond, please e-mail us at

We’re looking for features on individual players or matches during Wimbledon, unique observations, or opinions on the action. We’re also looking for help with our daily Things We Learned series, so if you’d just like to add your insights to that daily post, that would be great too! We hope to hear from you.

3 Responses

  1. Peg
    Peg June 23, 2014 at 6:52 pm |

    I liked what the umpire’s sister had to say:

    Fognini going nuts – again! My brother is in the chair and I think he's doing a great job keeping his cool.— Anne Keothavong (@annekeothavong) June 23, 2014

  2. Moo Tennis
    Moo Tennis June 23, 2014 at 7:22 pm |

    I was at the third set of Muguruza v Vandeweghe and it was both exciting and tense! I think Coco converted on her 13th MP. She hit a few stunning winners in the final game, meanwhile Muguruza saved 3MPs in a row on aces. I was impressed with how Coco held her nerve after missing 4MPs at 5-4. She held convincingly to put the pressure right back on and didn’t lose the plot when Muguruza was saving MPs left, right and centre!

  3. Joshua Gibson
    Joshua Gibson June 25, 2014 at 1:21 pm |

    I don’t think the Muguruza/Coco match on a non TV court was not a matter of a ball being dropped or too many cooks in the kitchen, it’s just an inevitable consequence of the opening week at a major. The tournament is trying to complete 64 singles matches a day (half of them best-of-five men’s matches) and there is limited space on TV courts. Some excellent match is bound to miss out while large numbers of boring matches will be on TV simply because stars drive the ratings. I agree this was on paper and was in fact an intriguing match-up, but short of making every court a TV court (an investment that probably isn’t worth it, when I’d much rather see HawkEye extended to all the courts) some match will be left by the side of the road.

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