Things We Learned on Day Nine of Wimbledon


1. There wasn’t much of a reason to be optimistic for Juan Martin del Potro’s chances at Wimbledon going into the tournament. The 2012 Olympic bronze medalist was forced to miss this year’s French Open due to an illness, and he looked less-than-stellar in losing to Lleyton Hewitt at the Queen’s Club in his first tournament back.

It looked even more grim for the Argentinian when he hurt his knee during his third round match against Grega Zemlja. When Del Potro again fell to the ground near the beginning of his quarterfinal against David Ferrer, it seemed like a swift exit or a retirement was inevitable. However, instead of going away, Del Potro played a tactically sound, aggressive, and comprehensive match against Ferrer today, beating him in straight sets.

It was a particularly big win, given Ferrer’s recent record against Del Potro. The Spaniard had won their last four meetings, including trouncing Del Potro at Wimbledon last year, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. Indeed, this is the first time Del Potro has beaten Ferrer since 2009 (Miami).

After an extremely promising second half of 2012 in which he won that Olympic medal by beating Novak Djokovic in the bronze medal match, and beat Roger Federer twice in Basel and London, Del Potro has found it hard to produce consistent results week-to-week, although he had an excellent run at Indian Wells. Still, Del Potro has rebounded on the grass surface that gave him his most triumphant career moment since the comeback from wrist surgery.

Also, this is the first slam semifinal he’s reached since winning the 2009 US Open. Not bad for a guy who was so frustrated by playing on grass a couple of years ago that he threw his shoes.

2. I love Andy Murray.

3. This is so funny, and yet so sad.

4. I can’t wait for tomorrow, mainly because it’s the Fourth of July, and I have the whole day off from work to enjoy the tennis.

Juan José:

1. Novak Djokovic has never moved better on grass. In the past few matches I’ve noticed how the World No. 1 has been able to execute his full arsenal of splits, slides and all-around ill-advised postures for most normal human beings on a tennis court. In the past, he would limit some of the extreme defensive pirouettes he would show off on hard courts and on clay, and move a little tentatively on the slippery green stuff. Not so anymore, and that’s quite problematic for the rest of the tour.

2. A visible tape job will always have more credibility than an “invisible” injury. Like most people on this planet who watched Juan Martín del Potro slide awkwardly and tweak his already tweaked knee, I thought he was done for the tournament. A couple of hours later, Del Potro would win his match in straight sets.

Lost in all the conversation is the fact that David Ferrer has been playing every single match since the first round with a painkilling injection on his ankle. To keep playing under these circumstances is borderline reckless: normally painkilling injections are saved for finals, or last-tournament-of-my-career scenarios. In soccer, it’s what the stars get done when they absolutely must play a big match. Yet Ferrer did it for four rounds. Sooner or later, it was going to catch up with him. By the end of his defeat to Del Potro today, Ferrer looked more than a step slow, and more worryingly, couldn’t get the lift from his legs he always counts on to add that little bit of extra pop to his shots. That made life for a very focused and aggressive Del Potro a little easier than normal.

I wrote before that I understand why Ferrer was doing this. He’s 31, and this was a golden chance to make the Wimbledon semis and become only the second Spaniard to accomplish semifinals or better in all four slams (alongside a certain fishing enthusiast from Mallorca). Ferrer has announced that he’ll be taking four weeks off, which is understandable. I just hope his ankle is okay for the US hard court swing.

3. Everything that happened after match point in the Janowicz-Kubot quarterfinal (which I did LiveAnalysis for here) will be extremely hard to forget. I’m prety sure everyone who was watching was moved by the sheer humanity of it all.

4. Fernando Verdasco isn’t lost anymore. Which is a good thing, since he’s the man who was part of the greatest tennis match I’ve ever seen. Sadly for him, he’s simply back to being Fernando Verdasco, who even at his best couldn’t be counted on to finish an upset properly. What I was most surprised by today was that Verdasco didn’t get broken at 4-all in the fifth set. But the inevitable did come just a few minutes later.

5. It bears repeating over and over again: a year ago, Jerzy Janowicz went through three rounds of qualies just to make his Grand Slam main draw debut at Wimbledon. He made the third round. Today, a little over a year later, he’s in the semifinals. That’s just astounding. I have absolutely no doubts in my mind that he’ll win Wimbledon at some point in the future. His story is just starting.

6. Andy Murray’s second serve was quite sad today. Just a very, very soft delivery that Verdasco failed to punish in the last two sets. Something for the Olympic champion and Wimbledon runner-up to worry about, as well as the fact that he handed the steering wheel of the match to Fernando Verdasco without an ounce of shame.

7. I absolutely cannot wait for the men’s semis on Friday. Just cannot wait.


1. I absolutely cannot get over how awesome Jerzy Janowicz’s reaction to winning that quarterfinal was. It even made Deadspin, and rightfully so. It was perfection. The falling to the ground and sobbing. Kubot walking over to his side of the net and embracing him for hours. The shirt switch. The sitting in the chair stunned and crying and forgetting to even walk off the court.

It was everything. It was my favorite moment of the tennis year by far, and it will be seriously hard to top the rest of the year. Simply put, it’s why we watch.

2. You are who we thought you were, Tomas Berdych. Sigh.

3. Novak Djokovic says he is playing the best grass court tennis of his life, and I have to agree. I have always thought that grass was his weakest surface, the place he was the most vulnerable if he wasn’t in The Zone. I might change my mind after this year though. TBD.

4. I mean, I know he lost in the end and all, but how awesome was it to see Fernando Verdasco play great tennis? More of that, please. He could really make the U.S. Open Series fun if he carries that form over.

5. I haven’t seen Andy Murray’s forehand look that terrible in a really, really long time. Hideous. He has to find his range there if he is going to win this title.

6. I’m so excited for tomorrow!!!!!!!!!

One Response

  1. James
    James July 4, 2013 at 5:24 am |

    Apart from a few great moments, I found the mens quarter-finals a little underwhelming. I thought Murray-Verdasco was not a particularly good match apart from the dramatic finish and the fact it went to five sets. I thought Verdasco played a very solid match and served incredibly well throughout, but Murray was terrible in the first two sets and will need to raise his game against Janowicz.

    The mens semi-finals have the potential to be really great. I really hope DelPo will not be too hindered against Djokovic because if fully fit, it’s a 50-50 call with Djokovic in my opinion. I’m expecting Murray-Janowicz to go 5…

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