Wimbledon 1996

It was an amazing and one of the most memorable Wimbledons ever: first major without net-judges, plenty of astonishing upsets of a different caliber, farewell of two-time champion Stefan Edberg, birth of “Henmania”, Cliff Richard’s concert a cappella during a long rain delay, finally a streaker running across the court before the final, in which the only time in the Wimbledon’s history two unseeded players met (!) – both were completely unexpected in that place when the tournament kicked off – Richard Krajicek [13] had lost Wimbledon’s first rounds in two previous editions, MaliVai Washington had never passed beyond the second round in six previous Wimbledon attempts! Krajicek, who eventually became the champion, throughout career was known as one of the biggest servers with a huge net-coverage and a crisp forehand. The backhand was his big hole… not at Wimbledon ’96, miraculously he obtained the most important points during the fortnight with his weakest shot, also against Pete Sampras in a sensational quarterfinal (three relatively long breaks due to rain), snapping Sampras’ 25-match winning streak at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. It was a special tournament for myself too, because Krajicek had been my favorite player since Australian Open 1992. Read more
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29th week

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German Tennis Championships lost its prestige in 2009 when the tournament moved in the calendar from May to July with a changed status from ‘Masters 1000’ to ‘500 ATP World Tour’, also the draw was cut then from 56 to 48. … Continue reading

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Roland Garros 1983

The tournament of a great hope for the American tennis: Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe were seeded with two highest numbers, and one of them was expected to get the first title for the United States since 1955. Both left-handed Yankees had very bad day in quarterfinals (McEnroe actually was struggling the whole tournament with his temper), especially Connors’ loss to Christophe Roger-Vasselin (father of a current player – Edouard) was sensational. Roger-Vasselin has been since then one of very few players to get a major semifinal not winning a tournament during his career. After the elimination of the Americans, Mats Wilander (he was threatened of kidnap by an Armenian citizen in the first week of the tournament) was the main title contender but was stunned in the final by Yannick Noah, who became the first French champion in 37 years. Noah up to this day remains the last French Open champion who got the title with attacking attitude. Read more
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28th week

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The only week in the year with four tournaments. After four weeks on grass, many players returned to European clay-courts to take an advantage of a lack of the best players in the world to improve their ranking positions. Janko … Continue reading

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Australian Open 1998

It was a reminiscence of Roland Garros 1990 when 30-year-old Andres Gomez, known for many years as one of the best players, unexpectedly won a major title. Eight years later in Melbourne, Petr Korda [7] was 30-year-old too, he had been playing tennis of his life since Autumn 1997 and in the Aussie Open final he overwhelmed a big favorite – Marcelo Rios. The gifted Chilean a few months later became the No. 1 in the world, and up to this day he’s been the only player who was at the top of the tennis pyramid not having a title under his belt in the end of career. The future (1999) champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov withdrew as well as ’92 semifinalist Richard Krajicek and two-time former champion (1992-93) Jim Courier. The defending champion Pete Sampras came to Melbourne after two months without a training (left ankle injury), and paid for it in the quarterfinals. Read more
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Wimbledon – final

(3)Roger Federer d. (4)Andy Murray        4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4            [3:24 h]

After four consecutive Djokovic-Nadal finals, fortunately some refreshing change, but only in some sense because Federer and Murray had already played two major finals before, however it happened in New York and Melbourne (funny coincidence – they never met beyond finals at majors) #. It only confirms how amazingly tight is the peak of men’s tennis consisted of four excellent players. There hasn’t been a Grand Slam final without at least one of them since Australian Open 2005 (!), when Marat Safin dismissed Lleyton Hewitt.
There has been an enormous amount of pressure put on Murray’s shoulders for many years at Wimbledon, but the 25-year-old Scot had obtained a required experience in three lost major finals to start another final in front of the home audience in a good style. No sign of hesitation in his initial hard strokes from both wings could intimidate a bit the 16-time Grand Slam champion. The level of tennis in the first two sets was astonishing, both guys displayed a rich arsenal of mixed rotations and rapid, flat shots from all angles of the court. Stats of the final.
Murray jumped into a 2:0* (deuce) lead when Federer got into the final and had a mini-set point at 4:3 – “the eternal No. 4” played a deep backhand-volley underneath the level of the net-cord to force Federer’s lob error. The Scot broke in the 9th game to clinch the set with a bunch of good serves. It’s admirable how many times during the fortnight he dealt very well with tight sets… Unfortunately for his fans it wasn’t a case in the 2nd set. Murray was winning his service games much more easier. He could break Federer twice: first at 2-all – Federer fought off a double break point with a smash and service winner. At 4:4, Murray had two mini-set points, and really great chance to convert the first opportunity – sent an easy backhand long, Federer withstood the second threat again with a smash. *5:6 (30/0), a tie-break seemed inevitable. Murray served a ball which could give him an ace and comfortable ’40/0′ but it called ‘out’ (Federer already moved himself to change the boxes) and the momentum shifted. The Scottish player made two errors, and Federer showed his magic at 30-all winning another two points with brilliant volleys, transforming in those rallies the defense onto the offense in a split second with crucial inside-out forehands. Ivan Lendl‘s face blushed in that moment (he was sitting almost the entire match in the same pose covering the mouth with fingers of his left hand). Apparently he knew the exceptional chance of his pupil would irretrievably evaporate.
The Swiss led 40/0 in the 3rd game of the 3rd set when heavy rain fell and the roof was activated – the final changed its conditions from outdoor to indoor 39 minutes afterwards. Nothing indicated that 6th game could turn into – perhaps – the longest game of this year’s event. Murray led 40/0 and Federer played a nonchalant backhand return – it was a clean winner, and the finalists were caught in a 20-minute marathon game consisted of 10 deuces, Murray found himself  on the ground three times in that game, every time losing points, he also threw his racquet (softly) the only time during the fortnight, and finally lost his serve despite 7 game points, which was decisive for the final outcome. Federer was more and more relaxed whilst Murray’s fitness seemed suspicious, it’s not a matter of his body language which often is deceptive, simply the average speed & accuracy of his 1st serve dropped, and loose errors crept into his game. Federer made a crucial break at 2:2 in the 4th set with a beautiful cross-court backhand passing-shot. During the last change of ends, Murray received a huge support from the crowd chanting “Mur-Ray, Mur-Ray!!”. He opened the last game with a successful backhand passing-shot, but Federer got quickly the next three points and converted the second match point as Murray’s diagonal passing-shot landed just by inches outside the near sideline. The Swiss enjoyed his big success falling on grass. It’s his 17th Grand Slam title, 7th Wimbledon, which means he equals Pete Sampras record and breaks a record of the American for the most weeks spent at No. 1 ## Murray for the first time in career loses three straight finals, and makes a new record (infamous one) – the most major finals played without a title ### He was very emotional during the ceremony, he almost cried when the crowd was trying to encourage him to say a few words. On the post-match conference he said: “Today [was] pretty hard, because you’re playing in front of a [British] crowd like that. The atmosphere was unbelievable, one of the best I’ve played in. [My] whole family had come to watch. So, yeah, it’s tough.” adding words full of respect towards Federer: “He could be sitting on 20 Grand Slams [but for] one point or a couple inches here or there. So he’s still playing great tennis. I don’t think you get to [World] No. 1 unless you deserve it.” The Swiss maestro stated: “This year, I guess, I decided in the bigger matches, to take it more to my opponent instead of waiting a bit more for the mistakes. This is, I guess, how you want to win Wimbledon, by going after your shots, believing you can do it, and that’s what I was able to do today. It’s special.” Now the best players in the world have three weeks off only to play ‘Wimbledon-2’, so the Olympic games at the same venue :)

 Doubles final:
J.Marray/F.Nielsen d. (5)R.Lindstedt/H.Tecau 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 6-3

# Pairs to play in three (or more) different major finals (record of those finals in parenthesis):
4 – Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal (3-2)
3 – Mats Wilander vs. Ivan Lendl (3-2, never played at Wimbledon)
3 – Pete Sampras vs. Andre Agassi (4-1, never played final in Paris)
3 – Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer (7-2, never played in New York)
3 – Roger Federer vs. Andy Murray (3-0, never played in Paris)
## Most Wimbledon finals:
8 – Roger Federer (7 wins – 1 loss)
7 – Pete Sampras (7-0), Boris Becker (3-4)
6 – Bjorn Borg (5-1), Jimmy Connors (2-4)
5 – John McEnroe (3-2), Rafael Nadal (2-3)
Most weeks at No. 1:
1. Roger Federer & Pete Sampras – 286 *
3. Ivan Lendl – 270
4. Jimmy Connors – 268
5. John McEnroe – 170
* Federer has guaranteed overcoming Sampras’ record
### Most major finals not having won a title:
4 – Andy Murray (2008-12)
3 – Tony Roche (1968-70) *
2 – Steve Denton (1981-82), Miloslav Mecir (1986-89), Cedric Pioline (1993-97), Todd Martin (1994-99), Alex Corretja (1998-01), Mark Philippoussis (1998-03)Robin Soderling (2009-10)
* Roche won Roland Garros in the pre-Open era (1966)
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Wimbledon – semifinals

 2nd semifinal:

(4)Andy Murray d. (5)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga            6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5                   [2:47 h]

Not facing one out of three giants of the modern game in a Grand Slam semifinal it’s a unique opportunity, so it was a huge chance for both players to reach the final of the most important tournament in tennis. For Murray it was 4th consecutive semifinal attempt in London, for Tsonga second in a row. The roof had been open after the first semifinal, rain didn’t fall and the entire match was played outdoors. Jo-Wilfried is very tough to break on grass, en route to the semifinal he was broken only four times, but Murray is one of the best return players in the world, perhaps the best on grass, and managed to break Tsonga four times as well. The Scot showed his amazing defensive skills as early as in Tsonga’s opening service game when he returned-in a couple bombs and made one incredible backhand passing-shot. The match was under his control through the first two sets, Tsonga was playing more aggressively than in his previous matches (there were sequences of constant serve-and-volley attacks) but it wasn’t efficient enough until the 3rd set when Murray had a “nap” about 10 minutes, and the Frenchman established a 3:0 lead which was vital in that set despite Murray’s pursuit. Murray woke up since the first point of the 4th set and was trying to encourage himself after almost every winning point. He built a *3:1 (30/30) lead – in that moment Tsonga manifested his unpredictability getting two important points thanks to one-handed backhands. At 4:3 Murray squandered two mini-match points, falling on the ground on both occasions! It could have been a turning point because in the following game Tsonga had a double mini-set point – Murray survived with two unreturned services, the second one after casual 2nd serve – Tsonga risked forehand return and missed. As I mentioned after Murray’s match against Ferrer, the Scot always wins 4th set tie-break, so he was quite relaxed when he held his service game to lead 6:5. Tsonga helped a bit in the last game of the match producing three unforced errors… Double match point: good serve, Tsonga goes to the net, Murray passes with a forehand. The ball is called ‘out’ but both players seem to know the ball was good which confirms Murray’s challenge. Tsonga congratulates hugging Murray, who has tears in his eyes. For the time being he proves that deserves No. 4 in the world, however if he wants to finally move further (in the end of the season) he needs to beat Federer on Sunday… It’s the end of the 74-year-old drought for the British tennis in Wimbledon men’s finals (Bunny Austin was outplayed by Don Budge  in 1938). In the Open era the British fans suffered nine semifinal defeats of their favorites:

Roger Taylor (1970, 73)
Tim Henman (1998-99, 2001-02)
Andy Murray (2009-11)

1st semifinal:

(3)Roger Federer d. (1)Novak Djokovic         6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3                       [2:19 h]

It’s a special time at the top of the men’s tennis, almost every match involving two out of three best players in the world has more at stake than just beating an arch-rival to get a final or a trophy. This time Federer entering the court, had a chance to regain the top spot (he has to win also the final to do it) tying Pete Sampras‘ record of the most weeks on No. 1 and become the first man to play eight Wimbledon finals; Djokovic in turn, could equal Nadal’s accomplishment of reaching five consecutive Grand Slam finals (it’s something even Rod Laver had not done in the Open era; Federer played ten in a row!). Anyway they’ve created a common new record for the most meetings at majors – 11 #.
The weather afternoon was bad which forced the officials to close the roof. Tim Henman and Boris Becker commentating this match for a TV sport channel, agreed that indoor conditions would favor Federer, and they were right. The level of play disappointed, especially in the opening, reflex two sets. “First blood” came in the 6th game as serving Djokovic dived unsuccessfully at 30-all. Trying to save the first break point he missed a backhand and the set was pretty much over. The Serb finally read Federer’s serve a couple times in the 2nd game of the 2nd set and broke him to 15 producing aggressive ground-strokes. The crowd waited until the 6th game of the 3rd set to see the first and one of very few excellent rallies – it was a break point for Federer, Djokovic won the point and showed first emotions. He had a mini-set point at 4-all but Federer responded with three service winners in a row. The crucial point of the match occurred with Djokovic serving to stay in the set in the following game. He was 15/30 down and played too cautiously from a very good position, Federer defended himself with a moon-lob and the Serb missed an overhead. He saved the first set point but on the second one, Federer outmaneuvered his opponent and finished the point with a smash. Apparently the tense 3rd set cost Djokovic a lot mentally because he made a few untypical baseline rallies at the beginning of the 4th set and found himself quickly at 0:3 down, which meant he had lost five consecutive games. Federer was fresh and his serve was working amazingly. Even when the Serbian player came back from a triple break point at 1:4 and two points away from defeat at 2:5, Federer didn’t show any sign of uncertainty, and finished the semifinal with two solid service winners. I think it’s worth underlying he got many points throughout the match directly after 2nd serve, IMO it was something what differed them the most. “If he wins and becomes No. 1, it’s going to be well deserved,” Djokovic said. “He’s played fantastic this year. He’s been so consistent. If he wins, he wins. There’s nothing I can do about it. The best player will win this tournament. I’m out.”

# Most matches at majors:
11Roger Federer vs. Novak Djokovic (6-5)
10Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer (8-2)
10 – Ivan Lendl vs. John McEnroe (7-3)
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Wimbledon – quarterfinals

Roger Federer and Andy Murray, just like last year were designated to play their matches on Centre Court, even the order was the same, first Federer, then Murray. Before the quarterfinals, the Scot said: “A lot of people have said to me that the quality of matches at the end of the Grand Slams has been unbelievable the last few years. People like seeing that, but I think upsets are part of any sport. […] They haven’t happened that much over the last few years in slams, but they will start happening more. I don’t think consistency from the top players can continue that much.” For the time being I think the gap between “eternal” fourth best player Murray, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is very narrow, and perhaps either Spaniard or Frenchman will remove Murray from the No. 4 at the end of the year  (on the assumption he doesn’t win a major), especially that the British hope has plenty of points to defend in the second half of the season.

4th quarterfinal:

(4)Andy Murray d. (7)David Ferrer             6-7(5), 7-6(6), 6-4, 7-6(4)   [3:52 h]

Others great players of the 60’s and 70’s (Manolo Santana, Vijay Amritraj and Roger Taylor) joined Laver and Agassi to watch the most entertaining quarterfinal. Murray and Ferrer create very interesting match-up: Murray has better serve and more natural volley game, but Ferrer is more consistent from the baseline thus their matches are well balanced – mental resistance, physical preparation, shot selection and pure luck separate them when they face each other. They had already played long 4-setters in Melbourne and Paris, since London ’12 they’ve added another long 4-setter to their rivalry, a more dramatic one than two previous. Actually every set could have ended with a different outcome. Murray was two points away to take the first set tie-break but hit the net-cord with a cross-court backhand at 5-all. In the 2nd set Ferrer served for the set at 5:4 (lost to 15), in the tie-break led 5:2* and 6:5 (Murray saved the set point with an inside-out forehand – directly after Ferrer’s weak return). In the 3rd set the Spaniard had a game point to lead 5:4, but on ‘deuce’, Murray delivered two winning returns in a row. In the 4th set, Ferrer had 40/15 leading 4:3 (Murray four times escaped from a double break point). At 5-all the match was suspended for 24 minutes due to rain. After the resumption they both held services to “love” and the British crowd saw the third tie-break. Murray got the crucial mini-break at 5:3 with a winner down the line. His serve didn’t let him down at 5:4 – a service winner was followed up with an ace down the middle… The serve was the key factor for the Scot – he obtained thanks to 1st serves the most valuable points throughout the long battle. In terms of scorelines, Murray works on entrenched patterns – he has never lost first two sets tie-breaks (so close today) and always wins a 4th set tie-break leading two-sets-to-one # He has done it twice against Ferrer, last year in Melbourne also saved a set point in the 2nd set. “Obviously the goal now is to win the next match and try and get through to the final for the first time. I’m obviously happy. I’ve had a good run here the last few years, but I’m not satisfied with that. I want to try and go further.” analyzed Murray. “I think the key was in the second set, when I had one set point in the tie-break,” said Ferrer for whom it’s the end of the best streak on grass – 9 wins in succession. “But Andy, in important moments he played really good. He played more aggressive than me, and he was better.” Indeed, Murray was very aggressive and it paid dividents in the end.

# Murray’s 4-set wins with a 4th set tie-break:
US Open 2008: M.Llodra 6-4, 1-6, 7-5, 7-6
Ausralian Open 2011: D.Ferrer 4-6, 7-6, 6-1, 7-6
Wimbledon 2011: I.Ljubicic 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6
US Open 2011: J.Isner 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6
Wimbledon 2012: I.Karlovic 7-5, 6-7, 6-2, 7-6
Wimbledon 2012: D.Ferrer 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6

3rd quarterfinal:

(5)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga d. (27)Philipp Kohlschreiber       7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-2       [2:48 h]

Their rivalry reminds in some sense of the Federer-Youzhny one – two guys display similar stuff but always wins one of them. Obviously ‘Ali’ Tsonga and Kohlschreiber play backhands otherwise and their behavior is completely different but there’s resemblance in the way they think about gathering points, especially on faster surfaces. There’s a huge psychological difference between them though, and manifest itself in crucial stages of sets. After the match Tsonga leads 6-1 in their H2H but fully 7-0 in tie-breaks! This time there were played two breakers, even if the German cut the lead in the first one from 1:6 to 5:6 his facial expression was skeptical – Tsonga hit an ace DTL. In the second tie-break Tsonga was more concentrated and converted already the first chance. Kohlschreiber is one of the best 5-set players but hadn’t plenty left in the tank (it was his 12th match on grass this season – more than anyone) and lost his service twice in the set No. 4. Tsonga repeats his result from the last year’s event when he advanced to the semis stunning Federer on Centre Court. Stats of the match

2nd quarterfinal:

(1)Novak Djokovic d. (31)Florian Mayer         6-4, 6-1, 6-4                          [1:45 h]

‘Flo’ with his unorthodox tennis is able to steal some time before the best guys adjust themselves to his untypical proposal. In this match Djokovic needed a short rain-break to do this (the match was halted in the 8th game, Mayer led with a break early on). When they came back on court the Serb confirmed his superiority winning 8 out of 10 games. It was pretty one-sided quarterfinal, albeit Mayer had his slight chances in two sets – led 40/0 on return at 4-all in the 1st set and 30/0 at 4:3 in the 3rd – nonetheless Djokovic came up with big serves in the most vital moments, in the last game too, when he saved three break points and finished the contest with an ace down the middle. “After the first set, he played unbelievable, especially in the second set,” said Mayer. “He showed why he’s the best player right now in the world. He left me no chance in the second set. If I could have won the first set, maybe I would have had a small chance. But still it’s very, very tough to beat him.” Djokovic said before the clay-court season that Nadal would be the ultimate challenge on clay, I think he’d say the same thing about Federer on grass. Admittedly ‘Nole’ is the defending champion but never met Federer on grass, thus beating him on this surface might preserve Djokovic’s dominance in men’s tennis in a wider context. Stats of the match.

1st quarterfinal:

(3)Roger Federer d. (26)Mikhail Youzhny           6-1, 6-2, 6-2                [1:32 h]

Sometimes when two players face each other, both with similar game-styles, wins easily the one who plays every shot simply better. It’s the case of the Federer-Youzhny rivalry. The Russian in my opinion is one of the most talented players of his generation but he is just a much more weaker reflection of Federer. When they met for the fourth time (Halle 2003), Youzhny played a tie-break after winning the 1st set, it was their only match when the Russian was within a couple points of beating his Swiss peer (Fed is ten months older to be precise). Because he had lost most of their matches quickly, a good beginning of every another meeting is exceptionally important. This time it didn’t happen from Youzhny’s perspective, he led 40/0 in his opening service game but collapsed after 5th break point sending two easy backhands out. Good start usually gives Federer a nice cushion to deliver his best tennis – he was majestic throughout while Youzhny couldn’t do anything until a game when he faced a triple match point on serve – he managed then to win five straight points in a good fashion to efface a bit bad impression he left in front of tennis legends and former Wimbledon champions, Rod Laver witnessed the match in a box were also sitting Andre Agassi with his wife Steffi Graf. Federer leads now with Youzhny 14-0 in H2H, having lost just 3 sets and is two wins away from reclaiming No. 1 ranking.

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Wimbledon – round 4th

All the fourth round action was scheduled on Monday but the rain thwarted the plans. Roger Federer and Mikhail Youzhny [33] had won their matches before others were canceled (Murray vs. Cilic 1-0, 3:1; Fish vs. Tsonga 1-0, 1:1; Kohlschreiber vs. Baker 3:1 & Mayer vs. Gasquet 1-0, 2:1). The Russian, who has natural grass-court game, has finally won a 4th round match at Wimbledon on 7th attempt. He had never been a favorite in those matches until this year because he faced Denis Istomin, for whom it was already career-best result. The first Uzbek [39] in such an advanced stage of a Grand Slam tournament almost made an upset. He had three mini-match points in the 5th set, Youzhny saved them with an ace and a forehand winner at 4:4, and the rival helped at 5:5 missing a backhand return on second serve.
Novak Djokovic – the biggest title contender after Nadal’s exit – extended his H2H against friend and doubles partner Viktor Troicki to 12-1. “There is a difference I think in the speed of the ball that travels through the air. I think it’s a bit slower than what it’s played outdoors,” said Djokovic, who played third straight match indoors! “I talked with Viktor who had his debut under the roof here, and he said it’s much slower than his previous matches.” Maybe it made an impact on the only Tuesday’s match indoors between Juan Martin del Potro and David Ferrer. The hard hitting Argentinian couldn’t dictate the pace and was broken many times. Actually Ferrer has found a pattern against DelPo. They played dramatic 5-setter in the Davis Cup final last year but since the deciding set then, Ferrer has won six straight sets against Del Potro not losing more than three games in a set! He reaches Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time (he had lost three times in the fourth round). The last Spaniard in the draw acted very calmly after the challenged match point, perhaps his self-confidence is so big he expects himself in the final. Tomorrow he meets Andy Murray, whom has beaten in the last two encounters quite convincingly. The Scot played very well against Marin Cilic snapping an 8-match winning streak of the Croat (11, counting his triumph at the The Boodles Challenge – exhibition event).
Also Philipp Kohlschreiber [30] will be participating in Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time, but the German didn’t play in the last 8 in any of Grand Slams before – he displayed a sensational service performance on court No. 12 against qualifier Brian Baker. Kohlschreiber beat Nadal two weeks ago in Halle and I assume it could be a tremendous boost of confidence for him. Kohli’s compatriot and peer Florian Mayer, beating Richard Gasquet in four quick sets, repeated his sensational result from 2004 when he advanced to the quarters in his Wimbledon debut (8th main-level tournament). It makes two Germans in Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time since 1997 (to be exact there were three Germans then, neither of them got the final). Generally it’s the best Wimbledon for the German tennis since 1991 because two German women met in the quarterfinal, Angelique Kerber beat Sabine Lisicki (both girls have Polish parents).
In the only match which was interrupted as many as three times by the rain, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga overcame Mardy Fish 4-6 7-6 6-4 6-4 outhitting the American in aces too (20-17) to complete the quarter-final line-up; players spent 3 hours 18 minutes on Court No. 2. Prior to this match Tsonga held 73 consecutive service games (Fish broke him twice)! Fish [12] decided not to compete at the London Olympics in three weeks’ time. Last year between Wimbledon and Tokyo he notched the best period of his career, thus he’s a lot of points to defend and if he doesn’t find consistency he may be outside the Top 30 in Autumn this year.

Longest match: 4 hours 16 minutes – Mikhail Youzhny d. Denis Istomin 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 6-7, 7-5
Most aces: 23 – Philipp Kohlschreiber, defeated Brian Baker in three sets
5-set barometer: 17-10 Mikhail Youzhny, 6-3 Denis Istomin
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Wimbledon – round 3rd

Nadal and Roger Federer eliminated day after day during the first week of a Grand Slam tournament? Impossible but it almost happened. Federer just like Rafa was playing indoors his third round match against the unpredictable Julien Benneteau. The Frenchman had beaten Federer once and it was a good base to deliver an inspired tennis in the first two sets, in the second one Benneteau saved three set points (all of them with winners). Benneteau couldn’t maintain playing three straight sets on the highest level but held six service games in the 4th, and was just two points away from another huge upset as he led 6:5 (30/15) – Federer survived with good serves. In the crucial, rather shaky tie-break from both sides, Benneteau was two points away again, this time with better chance to get the match point but missed a forehand at 6-all and Federer never looked back booking his fourth round berth in 3 hours 34 minutes #. “I did start to play better and better as the match went on, and that’s kind of what I expected of myself once a set down or two sets to love down,” said Federer. Benneteau admitted: “At the end of the fourth set, his serve was incredible. Only first serve, only first serve, only first serve.” Maybe it’s too early for this kind of statement but such a struggle with Benneteau doesn’t foretell Federer’s recapturing the Wimbledon crown, especially that supposed semifinal rival – Novak Djokovic – seems in a sharp disposition with potentially two easy matches in the next two rounds. The defending champion played his last two matches indoors as well. On Monday he will play against compatriot Viktor Troicki, who finally played a match not concluded in five sets. The Serb ousted 7-5 7-5 6-3 Juan Monaco – the Argentinian despite the higher ranking wasn’t a favorite prior to that encounter because until this year’s Wimbledon he had not won a match on grass (0-4 record)!
31-year-old Xavier Malisse [75] enjoys one of the best Grand Slams in his long career. The 2002 semifinalist hasn’t changed too much in the last ten years, he still has a ponytail and his tennis depends on well-placed shots on the baseline from both wings, but underlines his huge experience as the main factor on grass, since last year’s Wimbledon he couldn’t win three matches in a row until this year’s grass-court season. After winning three matches in a row at Queens Club and Eastbourne he has already won three at Wimbledon, including two victories over seeded players: Gilles Simon and Fernando Verdasco: “I think in important points, that’s where experience comes in the most. Especially at Wimbledon also when it rains, young guys used to hang around and walk around. It gets tiring. When you’re older you know what to do. You stay calm, do your thing. And just preparation, I think that’s a key thing also. But I think experience is a huge factor in tennis, preparing your matches, during the match, what to do, important points, all that stuff comes together. When you play younger guys, when I used to be younger, wild and crazy, do whatever. It’s very important you have experience under your belt.” Malisse played all important points at the end of each set against Simon wisely, and he repeated it in the 2nd set tie-break against Verdasco when he was two points away from 0-2 down. The Belgian player celebrated on the knees his 1-6 7-6(5) 6-1 4-6 6-3 win over the Spaniard – by the last year one of the best 5-set players, this year losing five set matches at every major.
An amazing story of Brian Baker‘s resurgence continues. The American [126], who missed a few seasons due to physical problems, shocked the world on French clay-courts a couple weeks ago, had a rest afterwards and acceded to a conquest of British grass-courts. Without serious troubles as a qualifier has advanced to the last 16 outplaying Benoit Paire 6-4 4-6 6-1 6-3 on Court No. 3. Baker has won 26 out of last 30 matches, at different levels. 27-year-old Baker after Wimbledon will enter the Top 100 for the first time in his career, if he can win matches on clay and grass, would be even more dangerous during the American hardcourt season which comes soon. He started the year as No. 456, because he has almost nothing to defend in the next six months I assume he should finish this year in the Top 50.
Jerzy Janowicz was very close to become the other qualifier in the “sweet sixteen”. His powerful serve (20 aces) allowed him to hold service games almost throughout the match against Florian Mayer. The young Pole had a double match point leading 5:4 in the 5th set. On the first match point he was tentative and Mayer caught him off balance with a high-forehand volley. On the second match point Janowicz presumably had too many options in his mind after Mayer’s weak second serve and netted a backhand return quite pathetically, and as it happens often in similar situations, Janowicz’s focus disintegrated, he lost his serve for the second time (Mayer had break points just in three games) and the match 6-7 6-3 6-2 3-6 5-7 despite winning one point more than the opponent (160-159).
Court No. 2: Marin Cilic has one of the worst tie-break records among the tennis elite (45 %) but a good thing from a psychological view for him is the fact he doesn’t collapse after losing them, which is very important especially in Grand Slam tournaments. Against Sam Querrey, the Croat lost tie-breakers in sets 3rd and 4th [led 5:4 (30/0) in the 4th set] but kept his composure and was serving to win the match at 6:5 in the 5th set. Querrey broke back and he was two points away on several occasions (seven games altogether!) to make one of the most dramatic wins in the Wimbledon history. The best chance came in the 16th game when Cilic being 0/30 came to the net – his least reliable territory – but won the point with a backhand volley. It wasn’t an all-serve duel (37 aces in total) but both tall guys serve good enough to dictate the rallies when the 1st serve is in. They were holding serves so firmly that potential suspension was near due to darkness and possibility to create the second longest 5th set in the history ##, Querrey fell apart in the 31st game  though. Cilic serving for the second time to get the victory, won the longest rally of the match at 30-all (29 strokes!). “We didn’t have too many rallies that were physically tough,” Cilic said. “It was a lot of serving and one or two shots. It’s more of walking in the match for that long. I played this year also five hours and ten minutes with Nalbandian on clay in Argentina in Davis Cup, so that was really difficult physically.”
In the latest finished match in the Wimbledon history thus far (11:02 p.m.), Andy Murray rallied past Marcos Baghdatis 7-5 3-6 7-5 6-1 coming back from a 2:4 deficit in the 3rd set. “I think the quality of tennis improved under the roof,” said Murray. “I was under the impression I was stopping at 11:00 regardless of what the score was. Even if it was in the middle of a game. But, yeah, [I’m] obviously glad that I managed to get the finish. And the atmosphere at the end was excellent.” Murray converted 6 out of 23 break point chances.

Longest match: 5 hours, 31 minutes. Marin Cilic d. Sam Querrey 7-6, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 17-15
Most aces: 23 – Sam Querrey
5-set barometer:
20-16 Roger Federer, 15-11 Fernando Verdasco, 13-12 Xavier Malisse, 12-6 Marin Cilic, 7-5 Julien Benneteau, 5-5 Florian Mayer, 1-5 Sam Querrey, 1-2 Jerzy Janowicz
# Federer’s two-sets-to-love down wins (8):
Wimbledon 2000: P.Wessels 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 3-4 ret.
Roland Garros 2001: S.Sargsian 4-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 9-7
Miami 2005: R.Nadal 2-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-1
Australian Open 2009: T.Berdych 4-6, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-2
Roland Garros 2009: T.Haas 6-7(4), 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2
Wimbledon 2010: A.Falla 5-7, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(1), 6-0
Roland Garros 2012: JM.Del Potro 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-0, 6-3
Wimbledon 2012: J.Benneteau 4-6, 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-6(6), 6-1
## Six longest matches in the Wimbledon history:
2010: J.Isner d. N.Mahut 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68 – 11 hours 5 minutes
2012: M.Cilic d. S.Querrey 7-6, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 17-15 – 5 hours 31 minutes
1989: G. Holmes d. T. Witsken 5-7, 6-4, 7-6, 4-6, 14-12 – 5 hours 28 minutes
1969: P.Gonzalez d. C.Pasarell 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9 – 5 hours 12 minutes
2008: R.Schuettler d. A.Clement 6-3, 5-7, 7-6, 6-7, 8-6 – 5 hours 12 minutes
2000: M.Philippoussis d. S.Schalken 4-6, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 20-18 – 5 hours 5 minutes
Longest 5th sets in majors: 70-68, 21-19, 20-18, 19-17, 18-16 (2x), 17-15 (3x)
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