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The draw is stronger than in Paris, Mardy Fish and Kei Nishikori return to the action with first round wins after a month break. Just like in Paris, Gael Monfils withdrew after the draw had been made (replaced by a ‘lucky loser’ Wayne Odesnik). Before the start of the tournament there was one serious question – is anyone able to eliminate at least one of the two best players before the final? If Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic played another major final, we would say that men’s tennis becomes more and more boring and predictable. Anyway, “the big four” moved through to the second round comfortably (Djokovic, Nadal and Andy Murray on Centre Court, Roger Federer on Court No. 1), albeit Rafa notched a false start against Thomaz Bellucci. The Brazilian led 4:0 (30/15) on serve in the 1st set when missed a relatively easy high-backhand volley. Since that moment it was a one way traffic, Nadal won 7-6(0) 6-2 6-3 in 2 hours 15 minutes, Djokovic needed only 98 minutes to dismiss Juan Carlos Ferrero, Federer 19 minutes less to got a 3x 6-1 win over Albert Ramos. Each of the three best players in the world finished his match with an ace (Djokovic displayed unusually solid service performance hitting 13 aces). Also Murray was on his way to deliver a triple “bread-stick” but met some resistance from Nikolay Davydenko in the 3rd set (the Brit won 6-1 6-1 6-4). “It was a good start, and I knew obviously when I drew him I was going to need to start the tournament well, playing good tennis,” said Murray improving his H2H against the Russian to 6-4. “I struck the ball well. It’s been a long couple of weeks since Queen’s. Once I got ahead, I wanted to make sure I didn’t let him back in. He’s very, very dangerous. He’s a very good returner as well.” In some sense the first round at Wimbledon ’12 ends up some period in men’s tennis, the best players of the 00’s are hopeless in confrontation with younger guys, such notable guys of that era like Ferrero and Davydenko couldn’t do anything as well as the former champion (2002) Lleyton Hewitt, who was ousted in three sets by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Ernests Gulbis  still remains a mystery. The Latvian has had an abysmal season which forced him to play two Challengers where he couldn’t even get quarterfinals. And all of a sudden he enters the Centre Court at the most prestigious tennis event in the world, and plays arguably the match of his life overcoming Tomas Berdych  in three tie-breakers. Gulbis presented a new technique at the forehand (more flick of the wrist) and perhaps it was the key because in each tie-break he made decisive mini-breaks producing forehand winners DTL. His serve was working excellently – 30 aces at 72% 1st serve in; he added 62 winners! Even wasting a double break point in the crucial stage of the 3rd set, and precocious celebration of the third match point (10th game) didn’t interrupt his focus. It was Berdych’s first opening round loss at Wimbledon since his debut in 2004; the Czech has lost his tie-break magic: 29-10 record at one stage, taking into account a year and a half, 0-7 in the last two months! Berdych wasn’t the only seeded victim in the opening day – on Court No. 3 John Isner squandered a match point leading 7:6 in the 4th set tie-break and lost to  Alejandro Falla 4-6 7-6(7) 6-3 6-7(7) 5-7. “I had my chances,” said Isner. “It’s all on me. Was just not great on my part. I felt fine coming into here. It’s just now I get out there sometimes, and lately it’s happening quite a lot, [that] I’m just so clouded. I just can’t seem to figure things out. I’m my own worst enemy out there. It’s all mental for me, and it’s pretty poor on my part.” Falla has won second match from a match point down in the 4th set within the last ten months (US Open ’11) and for the second time in a major he ousted a service-machine in a 5-setter, four years ago had defeated Ivo Karlovic in Paris receiving 35 aces, this time got 31 aces from Isner.
Falling on the knees to celebrate wins usually happens in the latter stages of big tournaments, sometimes it happens as early as in the first round though, if the win is obtained in dramatic circumstances. It was the case in victories of Viktor Troicki  and Slovak Martin Klizan  – neighbors in the draw. Both tall guys won five-setters with at least ‘7’ on their side in each winning set, not every player gets such a win during a long career. Troicki fought off a break point with an ace at 3-all in the decider against Marcel Granollers, Klizan blew two match points against Juan Ignacio Chela  at 5:4*, was broken in the 13th game, seemed downhearted, but Chela couldn’t capitalize the opportunity despite had won his seven previous five-setters. Now he has lost seven straight matches… Klizan finished the longest match of the first round (and the longest match in Chela’s career, who announced retirement afterwards) with a backhand winner to kiss the grass.
The rain fell on Tuesday and halted three matches in the presumably final games. It could turn into a nightmare Jurgen Melzer‘s match against Stanislas Wawrinka. The Austrian couldn’t convert three match points on serve on a slippery court producing awful unforced errors every time, and the match was resumed at 5:4 ‘deuce’ on Wednesday with Melzer losing first six points quickly. After a change of ends Melzer regrouped, broke the Swiss and with a bunch of service winners concluded the bizarre contest. Wawrinka also in Paris three weeks ago lost a two-day 5-setter resumed in the final set. Melzer luckily escaped, in contrary to Edouard Roger-Vasselin, who wasted a triple match point on serve in the deciding set against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez – the Spaniard last year won his matches in dramatic fifth sets as well, 13-11 in Paris and 7-6 in New York, against Roger-Vasselin prevailed 6-7 6-3 7-5 5-7 10-8 in 4 hours 48 minutes.
Longest match: 4 hours, 53 minutes. Martin Klizan d. Juan Ignacio Chela 7-5, 3-6, 7-6, 1-6, 11-9
Most aces: 48 – Nicolas Almagro, defeated Olivier Rochus in five sets
20-18 Tommy Haas, 18-13 Stanislas Wawrinka, 15-13 Jurgen Melzer, 12-5 Philipp Kohlschreiber, 11-21 Olivier Rochus, 10-11 Andreas Seppi, 10-8 Nicolas Almagro, 8-8 Viktor Troicki, 7-9 Juan Ignacio Chela, 6-2 Marcel Granollers & Denis Istomin, 5-3 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, 4-8 John Isner, 4-5 Alejandro Falla, 3-4 Nicolas Mahut & Florent Serra, 2-4 Flavio Cipolla, 2-3 Malek Jaziri & Edouard Roger-Vasselin, 2-2 Wayne Odesnik, 2-0 James Ward, 1-4 Pablo Andujar, 1-3 Steve Darcis & Bjorn Phau, 1-2 Martin Klizan & Jurgen Zopp, 1-0 Guillaume Rufin & Inigo Cervantes, 0-2 Andrey Kuznetsov, 0-1 Paolo Lorenzi
Wimbledon ’80 is one of the most memorable tennis events of all time due to the legendary final in which the four-time defending champion Bjorn Borg  met his toughest challenger – John McEnroe. The best players of the world at the time, created magnificent show, featured by the longest tie-break in major finals, and one of the longest ever. The ice-cold Borg choked a bit in the 4th set in unusual style, but regained the composure in the decider and celebrated the triumph more emotionally than any other title in his amazing career. Read more…
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“I wanted to keep alive winning one tournament a year for 12 years. I know three or four people have done that,’ Andy Roddick  said about equaling Federer’s record of winning at least one title in 12 consecutive seasons. The … Continue reading
Pete Sampras was a huge favorite to become the first man since 1988 to win three Grand Slam tournaments within a year. However, he was ousted in the last 16 by an inspired Petr Korda, in the same round other American champion Andre Agassi (out of form in 1997 but very solid in the first week of the UO ’97 edition) was eliminated as well. It opened the draw for young attacking players, Jonas Bjorkman , Greg Rusedski  and Patrick Rafter , the latter dealt the best with the underdog status becoming a sensational new champion. The US Open ’97 featured the beginning of decline for Michael Chang, who in that event wasted his last opportunity to prove that his Roland Garros ’89 triumph wasn’t a fluke. Read more…
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The first week of the short grass-court season brought many upsets. As early as in the opening match at Queens Club, the defending champion Andy Murray was ousted by a grass-court specialist Nicolas Mahut, 6-7 in the deciding set. Murray, … Continue reading