Things We Learned on Day Two of Wimbledon


1. This is pretty great:

2. Steve Tignor hit another home run with his write-up of Bernard Tomic vs. Sam Querrey:

The guy behind me today was right again when he said, of Tomic, “He just caresses the ball, he never really hits it.”

In some ways, that’s part of the plan; Tomic doesn’t present a wall to his opponent, so much as a void. An unpredictable void. In one rally, he may go big with every forehand. In the next, when he’s given a short backhand to rip, he’s just as likely to push it back into the middle of the court. Tomic has a magician’s hands, and can create shots that defy categorization. Yet he’s a magician who gets bored with his own act. In the end, he still relies too much on his opponents to make errors. Today Querrey, who went cold at all the wrong times, obliged.

3. Wayne Odesnik had quite an audience in the press room at Wimbledon:

Odesnik said he has a “pretty good relationship with a lot of the players.

“I really am trying to grow as a person on and off the court,” Odesnik said. “God has put me in this position where tennis is a platform for me to try and inspire people, to push through it. I think I’m pretty good at tennis.”

I find it interesting that while many tennis fans will call on players to blow the whistle on doping offenders, Odesnik faces nothing but malice from most of the tennis community. If the ITF’s anti-doping program is expected to work, it must rely on former offenders to provide information about other players who might be violating the rules. That’s probably the most effective way of finding the players who are doping, because the testing program won’t do the trick. There seems to exist a sentiment that Odesnik is some kind of “traitor” or a “rat” for giving the ITF information about other players, but if those players he singles out are actually doping, I don’t see why Odesnik shouldn’t turn that information over to the ITF. Those players deserve no protection from a colleague.

4. Carl Bialik’s take on Steve Darcis’ upset over Rafael Nadal was an interesting read.

Darcis made it into Wimbledon by the skin of his teeth, on the strength of his ranking when the entry list was finalized and after a few withdrawals of players ranked higher than him. Good thing for him the entry list is finalized before this week’s rankings came out, because Darcis, at No. 135, wouldn’t have made it in without qualifying.

Juan José

1. Novak Djokovic does not need to play a warm-up tournament ahead of Wimbledon. As we know, the World No. 1 did not play in any of the official ATP events on grass prior to Wimby, and his preparation for his favorite slam consisted solely of partaking in the Boodles exhibition. He faced a tricky opponent in Florian Mayer today, someone he had to beat last year in the quarterfinals. Understandably so, there were a lot of questions about how Djokovic would react in his first official match on grass of the season (particularly as the tennis world was shocked by Rafael Nadal’s early exit yesterday – Nadal had not played a warm-up event either). All questions were answered pretty convincingly, though: Djokovic was very sharp right from the start, and rolled through in straight sets. It’s worth to remember that Novak has won five of his six Grand Slam titles after playing only exhibitions as warm-ups for those major events. Sadly for him, there are no exos before Roland Garros or the US Open (and it’s not like he’s underachieved at those slams, either). Still, this preparation scheme has worked wonders for Wimbledon and the Australian Open, so I don’t see him altering it anytime in the near future.

2. I thought that listening to Argentinean announcers call matches of their national soccer team was the epitome of homerism in the booth…until I listened to the BBC commentators call Laura Robson’s upset win over a very diminished Maria Kirilenko. The level of denial about Robson’s opponent was astounding, as was the fact that the word “hyperbole” just doesn’t do justice to their praise that was heaped on the young Brit. It got so uncomfortable that at one point I got another stream going at the same time just so I could listen to something else.

3. Sam Querrey should probably devote some more time to scouting his opponents. I caught the entire fifth set of his loss to Bernard Tomic (after being down two sets to love). At that point, the announcers were going on and on about how Bernie seemed done and dusted after the fourth set, and he did look a tad exhausted at the beginning of the decider. However, just after the first few points, you could tell that Tomic was just fine, while Querrey seemed rattled at how his opponent had suddenly come back to life. After Bernard got hot at 3-4, broke Querrey and served out the match, Sam approached the net and gave Bernie a most lukewarm handshake. Querrey probably felt tricked by Tomic, but all I could think of is this: when your opponent has the word “tank” in one of his nicknames, you’d better be prepared for matches like today’s, Sam Querrey.

4. Martín Alund’s wonderful/crazy year continues. The 27-year-old journeyman from Mendoza, Argentina had never even played in an ATP main draw before 2013. A veteran of the Future/Challenger circuits, he got into the Sao Paulo ATP 250 as a Lucky Loser. As we know, he then made the semifinals, and took Rafael Nadal to a third set. A few weeks later, he got a chance to beat Lleyton Hewitt in the first round of the Houston ATP event (I talked to him after that match, and you can find the interview here – it’s in Spanish, though). Martín got a chance to play Roland Garros (lost to Roger-Vasselin in five in the first round), but today, something else was in store for him: an appearance on Centre Court, the cathedral of tennis, to play World No. 4 David Ferrer. Alund acquitted himself quite well, and now he has yet another incredible memory from the best year of his tennis life (not to mention some much needed cash – his first round loser check will amount to roughly 10% of all the prize money he’s earned throughout his career).


1. God, I hate the rope-a-dope. Bernard Tomic has done it time and time again, as have countless other players. John Isner is a repeat offender, tanking a set and refusing to move his feet at all.

Today, Tomic was cruising, up two sets to Sam Querrey, when he stopped playing well and Querrey took advantage to take the third set. Then, Tomic clearly got dizzy and stopped feeling well and pretty much completely tanked the fourth set. He saw the trainer before the fifth set, took some pills, and came back alive in the fifth.

All of that is fine and good, and Bernard did nothing that broke the rules. He was able to lift his level when he absolutely needed to, and throughout the match he played the bigger points better than Sam. But this is one instance that highlights one problem I have with the five set format. Yes, occasionally there are thrillingly rollercoaster-y five set affairs where both guys put their heart and soul into each point. But more often than not, this is what you get: guys going through the motions to weather bad patches, disappearing for sets at a time, then trying to bring up their level when they feel the pressure.

In three sets, you have to fight through those bad patches, not just buy time.

2. Guido Pella had to go out on a stretcher.

But he did get a consolation prize in the form of a very, very nice tweet from Andy Murray:

3. Kohlschreiber did not.

4. Laura Robson upset a hobbled Maria Kirilenko. Everyone was really calm about it.

5. James Blake can still play tennis. Good for him.

2 Responses

  1. RZ
    RZ June 26, 2013 at 12:28 am |

    Yeah, the British commentary is a little extreme. But keep in mind it’s been soooo long since they’ve had a top female prospect. They get a little hyperbolic about Andy Murray, but at least they had Tim Henman to give them hope before that. Before the Laura/Heather “era” (if we can call it that), they didn’t have anyone to pin their hopes on.

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