1. I’m loving Andy Murray’s game at the moment. Although he wasn’t tested to the extreme against Tommy Robredo today, Murray played a comprehensive match against an opponent who was playing very well. His forehand has improved so much in the last year or so.
2. Jon Wertheim beautifully put into the words the way I’m feeling about this crazy Wimbledon:
One of the great virtues of sport is that it’s unscripted and unchoreographed. Sometimes you get pyrotechnics and sometimes you get duds. And maybe there’s some silver lining behind the all the clouds overhead: The rash of upsets and injuries will divert the spotlight and feature some new stars. For much of the last decade, the sport has been dominated by a half-dozen players. Now we get to meet the back-up performers.
Even the hardest of the hard-core fans may not know Igor Sijsling from Grega Zemlja or Marina Erakovic from Klara Zakopalova. But they are all still playing for the Wimbledon title, and each has a story to tell. If some new players can break through, and get their moment in the sun — or the clouds — to broaden the cast of tennis players these next few days, the ambient chaos may be a disguised blessing.
3. People said stuff about Federer:
Melzer on playing Stakhovsky: "Go out there & show him that I'm not Roger Federer & I can return his serve & make him play tough volleys."
— Beyond The Baseline (@SI_BTBaseline) June 28, 2013
Interesting talk from Tomic: Thinks Federer was happy when Nadal lost and "I think he got ahead of himself, then things turned around."
— Beyond The Baseline (@SI_BTBaseline) June 27, 2013
4. Oh hey, Andy Murray’s on Instagram.
5. Tommy Haas, ladies and gentlemen:
Tommy Haas boom! "You can't buy ATP points to buy your ranking. It's not possible; otherwise Gulbis would be No.1 in the world."
— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) June 28, 2013
1. Jerzy Janowicz made his debut on Centre Court, and conducted himself as if he owned the place. Which is the best possible thing you can say about a prospect, right? I did a Key Points Analysis about the match, which you can read here. However, I did notice something about Janowicz that I thought was extremely positive, and that I didn’t include in that piece.
There’s been a subtle change in the way the 22-year-old approaches his game now, and it’s come on the backhand side. In the months since he broke out in Paris, you could see that Jerzy was trying to be aggressive with every single aspect of his game, backhand included. He would go for cross court winners, down-the-line winners, and every other winner you can think of. His two-hander, being the weakest part of his game, couldn’t really produce everything that was asked of it, and often let Janowicz down with pretty cheap unforced errors. But at this Wimbledon, a switch must have gone off, and Janowicz is now very focused on using his backhand almost exclusively to keep the point alive instead of forcing the action (though he does toss in the traditional backhand dropper). As a consequence, that shot has become much, much more reliable, and, it has helped set up better opportunities for the monster forehand.
These are the kind of subtle improvements that you want to see from a young guy trying to fulfill his potential. At 22, Janowicz won’t add a major weapon or suddenly charge the net on every point. But he can tweak how he approaches baseline rallies to better use the weapons available to him. Full kudos to his coach, Kim Tiilikainen, who surely had a major role in this evolution.
2. You know someone else who shows up to Centre Court and acts like they own the place? Laura Robson. Yes, I’ve made endless cracks about how she’s unstoppable against a high seed on a main court, while she might lose to someone ranked outside the top 200 if the match is played on a small outer court. But the reality is, this is a nice problem to have. Sooner or later, the focus kicks in, the prospect wins more matches on the outer courts, and violá: there’s no need to worry about that again, because said prospect’s matches will always be on show courts anyway. Laura is destined for that, so I’m just trying to get in as many tired jokes as I can until that happens.
But it’s a question of when, not if.
3. Someone can average 69% first serves in a Grand Slam match and then average 130 mph in those first serves. Think about that for a second: seven out of 10 serves coming out of this person’s racquet will be first serves, and they’ll come directly at you at around the speed of a dumb soccer player driving a really fast sports car. What is scary is that these are stats that are independent of who is across the net.
Oh, and this person did hit 30 aces. Past a mediocre returner, but still: 30 aces in just 3 sets.
4. I am so tempted to reference this video in relation to Grigor Dimitrov:
He’s young, he’s talented, but you know what? He does not act like he owns anything. He doesn’t seek to impose his game on anyone. And you know what happens when you play tennis that way? You lose to Grega Zemlja in the second round of Wimbledon, 11-9 in the fifth.
Right now, Dimitrov has two things going for him: 1) Toni Nadal thinks he’s a great prospect, and 2) he’s dating Maria Sharapova. Sadly, neither of those facts could help him get to the third round of a major for only the second time ever. And let’s remember, he was playing Grega Zemlja, who at age 26, has played 54 fewer ATP main draw matches than one Grigor Dimitrov.
5. I watched Mónica “Pica Power” Puig play today, and I wondered just how she managed to get this far on grass (it should be said that none other than Melanie Oudin beat Puig 0 and 4 in the Eastbourne second round last week). Puig’s swings are quite elaborate; the kind that work better on a slow hard court or on clay. However, through sheer grit, plus occasional great footwork coupled with impeccable timing, the Puerto Rican national hero has managed to get to the third round in her first ever showing at Wimbledon, which is HUGELY impressive. Her match against veteran journeywoman Eva Birnerova was suspended due to darkness, and Pica Power was down a set and a break. Things looked bleak for her, but there’s a lot of fire in Puig – I wouldn’t be surprised if her run against the odds continues tomorrow and she turns the match around.
1. I had forgotten how much I loved to watch Jurgen Melzer play tennis, but boy do I. He played such a smart and effective match against Sergiy Stakhovsky today, and it was great to see him do his thing. It was somehow just two years ago that Melzer was ranked top 10 in both singles and doubles, and his doubles skills were on full display today as he picked all the right moments to come to the net and take advantage of Stakhovsky’s lack of focus. His reaction after winning was so endearing, and his quote about “not playing like Federer” was absolutely hysterical.
A winning day for Mr. Benesova all around.
2. Please pull out your matches, Sloane Stephens and Petra Kvitova. Please. I am literally down on my knees begging you. Please.
3. We live in a world where Adrian Mannarino is into the fourth round of Wimbledon. Adrian. Mannarino. Just let that sink in for a minute.
4. Today not only was a showcase of letdowns by players such as Bouchard, Larcher de Brito, Brown, and Stakhovsky, but it was a showcase of players who just didn’t have a Plan B. Larcher de Brito and Bouchard were hugging the baseline and hitting as hard as they could, and simply couldn’t figure out what to do when they weren’t getting the pace or precision they needed. Similarly, Brown and Stakhovsky both won by serving and volleying on Wednesday, but when the execution wasn’t as perfect and the spots to come in weren’t as obvious, they were lost. Completely and totally lost. I think it shows why so many players are so erratic. When their game completely clicks they can hang with anyone, but the margin of error is so miniscule that there are more bad days than good.
I’m sure it’s easier said than done, but there needs to be a better emphasis on in-match problem solving and adjustments. It’s great when Plan A works, but there has to be another option if it doesn’t if you want to be more than a flash-in-the-pan.
5. Don’t worry about that Rafa guy. He’s doing just fine.
— tanika (@SitTanyusha) June 28, 2013
6. As I was writing this article about the British curse, I came across this video of Fred Perry winning the Wimbledon title in 1934. Pretty awesome.