1. It might be an unpopular opinion this year with those who are upset about the scheduling, but I was really thankful for Middle Sunday. I wish every Grand Slam tournament did it. I got to run a 5K (my first race since finishing a half marathon with a fractured foot in March!). I got to have brunch with some friends. It was a much-needed day of not thinking about tennis. Some Wimbledon traditions need reassessing, but I am all in favor of this one.
2. The WTA may be feeding the Genie Bouchard hype machine as much as they can, but Bouchard is doing her best to live up to it. She’s currently playing like a top 10 player, and I appreciate the steady way she seems to approach each match. She plays with the poise of someone more experienced. She navigated her way through a competitive, tricky match against Alize Cornet in straights today, reaching the quarterfinals for her third consecutive Grand Slam. Her obvious desire to win, and win big against the top players right now, not years down the road, is what sets her apart from some of her young peers. (*cough* Sloane *cough*)
3. What a tremendously disappointing result for Agnieszka Radwanska. With Serena Williams out of the draw, this was a fantastic opportunity for Radwanska to potentially go all the way. Instead, she was crushed by Ekaterina Makarova, 6-3, 6-0 in the fourth round. Makarova might be a tough opponent, but there’s no excuse for the listless performance of Radwanska here. She looked downright disinterested.
Speaking of missed opportunities, I don’t get how someone who’s decent on grass like Caroline Wozniacki can go out meekly to Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova in straights. It’s not often that a WTA player would be handed an easier route to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. Not a good result from her.
4. For the love of god, someone please teach Jimmy Connors how to pronounce Novak Djokovic’s last name.
Centre Court game: DRINK everytime Jimmy Connors says "Doughkovic" instead of "Djokovic". #youwontlastlong
— René (@Renestance) June 30, 2014
5. What is the media’s obsession with a woman going into the men’s locker room? Thank you, Andy Murray.
Andy Murray. pic.twitter.com/A2Akld3lGf
— Courtney Nguyen (@FortyDeuceTwits) June 30, 2014
6. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s performance on the return was so incredibly bad against Novak Djokovic today. Say what you will about Djokovic serving well, but all the horrible misses or short replies spoke for themselves. The stats are quite ugly. It’s nice to have a big serve like Tsonga, but if you can’t get the ball back in play on the return, you’re not going to win many matches.
1. Aga is still hurting.
I don’t like to project my own emotional hurt onto others, but I’m working on the principle that because everyone calls Aga “ninja” for her incredible skills with a tennis racket, and an Italian colleague of mine once called me “ninja” because I vaguely understand layering on Photoshop, Radwanska and I must be spiritually bonded. It’s a ninja thing.
So here’s the deal: the Wimbledon semifinal loss to Sabine Lisicki last year just isn’t out of her system yet. Let’s face it, with everyone else having dropped, flopped or twisted their way out of the draw, The Championships were Aga’s to win in 2013. She’s a better player than Lisicki, than Marion Bartoli, than … oh man, who was the other one? Kirsten Flipkens? Wimblegeddon was weird.
Aga has looked vulnerable ever since that loss, and found herself facing a similar nightmare at the Australian Open this year as she fell to Dominika Cibulkova in the semifinal after a brilliant win over Victoria Azarenka.
The baggage is building up.
It hurts, but the ninja will rise.
2 . Novak feels personally victimized by the Wimbledon crowd.
Wimbledon Centre Court is not a happy place for Novak of late. The final last year was notable for the TERRIFYING noise the crowd made in Andy Murray’s favor, which is perhaps understandable … home nation, 77 years, Pimms-a-flowing, etc. etc.
It’s not just home player advantage, though. It happened again today against the ever-popular Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. The centre court crowd aggressively cheered for Tsonga and groaned loudly for every point Novak won. It’s a strange phenomenon, and one that is reserved for Novak alone in the “Big Four.” For some reason this crowd, like others around the world, just don’t get behind him.
Crowds! What did he do to you?!
Never mind Novak, you have your Grand Slam Titles.
SIX for you Novak Djokovic, you go Novak Djokovic.
3. Amelie Mauresmo is the best.
I’m not even going to talk about Murray because he’s having a breeze right now. I’m sure everyone else is talking to you about the GRIGOR VS ANDY SHOWDOWN, so I’ll hold my tongue. (It could be good though, Grigor is a big challenge).
I’m more interested right now in Murray’s coach: former Australian Open and Wimbledon Champion Amelie Mauresmo. Amelie hangs out in Andy’s box just … chilling. Serenely. Oxygenating like a fine wine. Sharing the odd joke with Daniel Vallverdu. Maybe thinking about French things like … macarons, and roadside art stalls.
— Abied (@fi_sonic) June 30, 2014
Okay, she’s probably thinking about tennis coaching things like: is he moving his feet, is he striking the ball too early … but I’ve just missed her, and I admire her intrinsic coolness.
Who knows the wonderful world inside of Amelie’s brain? I don’t need to know. I’m just glad we get to see her again. She brings a bit of gravity to proceedings.
4. I’m bored of scheduling drama.
I hereby vow to say nothing more about it. I doubt it will affect the outcome. Yes it’s all a complete farce and needs an overhaul but frankly, I’m over it. It’s boring. It’s like talking about grunting. NOBODY CARES ABOUT GRUNTING.
We’re only even talking about it because the tennis isn’t conversation worthy. *Shamelessly links to own tweet in 3…2…1…*
I can't remember the last time my mind wandered to so many other things watching a Grand Slam tournament. The finals better be EPIC.
— Andrew (@BackSwings) June 30, 2014
— Lindsay Gibbs (@linzsports) June 30, 2014
@BackSwings oh Wimbledon is still happening?
— Brad Hunter (@bradhunter) June 30, 2014
Sorry, the crankiness that is sweeping tennis fans this tournament has well and truly hit me. I’m going to go and have some wine and think of Amelie.
1. You go, Genie. The Canadian is now into her third straight major quarterfinal, a beyond impressive feat for someone of her age and experience level. She is a prime example of how important it is on the elite level to be a fierce competitor. The margins are so thin at the top of the game, that it’s all about who can bring their best tennis in the biggest moments.
So far, Bouchard has not only continued to have consistent results in each major, but she’s shown improvement in her technique and shot selection as well. It wasn’t an emphatic or flashy victory over Alize Cornet today, but she took care of business in straight sets on Centre Court as the favorite in a big match. How often do we complain about players who can’t do that? Maria Sharapova or Angelique Kerber will be a huge challenge in the next round, and I’m excited to see how she responds.
2. I wrote a feelings-heavy piece called “Venus Williams, Lleyton Hewitt, and the Beauty of a Long Decline” for The Changeover. (That’s right! I actually wrote something for this wonderful site. How 2013 of me!) It’s pretty emo, but, well, sometimes that’s necessary.
3. Ana Ivanovic lost to Sabine Lisicki in the third round, going down rather meekly in the third set. For the second consecutive major, Ivanovic has entered in great form and failed to make it to the second week. Is Lisicki a tough first-week draw at Wimbledon? Of course. But these are the players that the Serb is going to have to get through on the big stages if she truly wants to become a contender again.
(Plus, I mean, how many great draws has Ivanovic had over the years just to implode anyway? These things even out.)
4. Pretty impressive, Czech ladies. Have you guys tried to have a Fed Cup team? I bet you’d be good!
It was wonderful to see Petra Kvitova effortlessly make the second week, backing up her impressive win over Venus. Lucie Safarova was also surprisingly drama-free, while BZS might have been the most impressive of all, taking out an in-form Wozniacki with ease.
5. Look at you, Marin Cilic!
6. Look at you, John Isner…
7. Steve Tignor has a great piece on BZS and Cilic, who are both into the quarterfinals after serving doping bans last year:
Now that her Wimbledon run—BZS has reached the final eight for the first time—has helped put the nightmare of 2013 farther behind her, Zahlavova Strycova says that her time away helped motivate her and put the sport in perspective. It might, it turns out, have been the break that the 12-year veteran needed.
“I like it because I didn’t play for six months,” BZS said, “and it show me also some other stuff. I enjoy much more now. It was tough, but on the other hand, it also brings me some positive things. I’m seeing the sport a little bit different now.”
Cilic has also described his time away, fighting for his reputation, as a nightmare. And like BZS, his own first trip to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon has helped him realize that his time away wasn’t wasted.
8. Also, another great piece from Ben Rothenberg, who looks at how Venus helped get more women’s matches on the show courts this year.
9. Random tweets I favorited:
— Jason Collins (@jasoncollins34) June 30, 2014
— Jelena Ristic (@JelenaRisticNDF) June 30, 2014
10. What a shame that Madison Keys couldn’t compete today. I hope she gets well soon–I’m expecting big things from her this summer.