Wimbledon – Day 14 (final)

(2)Novak Djokovic d. (1)Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3          [2:28 h]

There is no better place to confirm one’s supremacy over the biggest rival than the final in the temple of tennis – on Centre Court at Wimbledon. In the Open era, John McEnroe made it in 1981 (over Bjorn Borg), nine years later Stefan Edberg (over Boris Becker), Pete Sampras in 1993 (over Jim Courier), Roger Federer in 2004 (over Andy Roddick) and Rafael Nadal three years ago (over Federer). This time makes it Djokovic, beating Nadal for the fifth time this year (for the first time in career in a major #), which allows to predict his longer domination than a span of one season.
Nadal began the final very eager, produced two forehand winners as early as in the first three points, but Djokovic managed to hold his serve to “30”. Both guys were winning service games quite conveniently until the 10th game when Nadal leading 30-0 lost four points in a row. At break point in the 2nd game of the 2nd set, Djokovic impressed with a great chase to Nadal’s drop-shot; that point electrified the Serbian box and decreased Nadal’s self-confidence. In the following game, ‘Nole’ played his best tennis, and Nadal seemed boiled. He always fights to the end though, and despite a beat-down in two sets, won easily first three games of the 3rd set, which helped him to break a streak of eight consecutive sets lost to Djokovic! Lopsided match continued in the 4th set, Djokovic led *2:0 (30-15), but Nadal broke back, thanks to a lucky net-cord. At 3:4, Nadal finally saved a break point (at 0-40), but made a mistake in the following point. The last game of the match D’Joke began with a forehand mis-hit, but quickly recovered winning 4 out of the next 5 points. The biggest triumph in his career he celebrated like advancing at No. 1 in the world – lying on his back with a wide smile. In both cases it wasn’t an extended celebration, nothing more than the one after winning Rome two months ago, where – I assume – he realized that dethroning Nadal at the top, would be a matter of time. This victory snaps Nadal’s 20-match winning streak at Wimbledon – the fifth best result in London ##.
I just want to congratulate Novak and his team for the victory today and his amazing season,” declared Nadal. “Always Wimbledon for me was the most special tournament, just to be here is a dream. When I won here in 2008 the emotions was very high, so I can imagine how he is feeling. I will try another time next year.” Djokovic: “It has been the best day of my life, most special day of my life. I always dreamed of winning this tournament. I think I’m still dreaming. When you are playing the best player in the world, Rafa Nadal, who has won two of last three Wimbledons, I had to be on top of my game and I think I played my best grass-court match ever.” ‘Nole’ captures the 26th title (three majors), but the first one on grass! Stats of the final

  Doubles final:
(1)Bob Bryan/MikeBryan d. (8)Robert Lindstedt/Horia Tecau 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(2)

# Six Grand Slam meetings between Djokovic and Nadal:
Roland Garros 2006, QF: Nadal d. Djokovic 6-4, 6-4 ret.
Roland Garros 2007, SF: Nadal d. Djokovic 7-5, 6-4, 6-2
Wimbledon 2007, SF: Nadal d. Djokovic 3-6, 6-1, 4-1 ret.
Roland Garros 2008, SF: Nadal d. Djokovic 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(3)
US Open 2010, F: Nadal d. Djokovic 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2
Wimbledon 2011, F: Djokovic d. Nadal 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3
## Players to win at least 20 consecutive matches at One Slam:
41 – Bjorn Borg (Wimbledon 1976-81)
40 – Roger Federer (Wimbledon 2003-08) *
40 – Roger Federer (US Open 2004-09) *
31 – Rafael Nadal (Roland Garros 2005-09)
31 – Pete Sampras (Wimbledon 1997-2001)
28 – Bjorn Borg (Roland Garros 1978-81)
27 – Ivan Lendl (US Open 1985-88)
26 – Andre Agassi (Australian Open 2000-04) **
25 – Pete Sampras (Wimbledon 1993-96)
25 – John McEnroe (US Open 1979-82) *
20 – Ivan Lendl (Australian Open 1989-91)
20 – Jim Courier (Roland Garros 1991-93)
20 – Rafael Nadal (Wimbledon 2008-11) **
* One walkover during streaks
** One year tournament absence during streaks (Agassi – 2002, Nadal – 2009)
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Wimbledon – Day 12 (SF)

Today’s semifinals repeated last year’s matches at the same stage of the tournament with one significant difference – Jo-Wilfired Tsonga participated in them instead of Tomas Berdych; both players born in 1985, defeated Roger Federer in quarter-finals, Berdych in four sets, Tsonga in five.

1st semifinal:
(2)Novak Djokovic d. (12)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-7(9), 6-3    [3:06 h]

Just like four weeks ago in the Parisian semifinal, Djokovic was one win away from advancing to the No. 1 in the tennis world. Despite his extraordinary record this year (46-1), his win wasn’t certain because he had a tricky opponent, who had beaten him in 5 out of 7 meetings, moreover, Tsonga showed great potential this year overcoming on grass Nadal and Federer. And indeed, the initial phase of the match indicated on Tsonga, who broke Djokovic’s serve in the very first game. The Frenchman led 5:3, at 5:4 was two points away from winning the set (came back from 0/40), but made a double fault trying to get a point with a risky 2nd serve. In the tie-break decided the 6th point after Tsonga’s forehand error, which gave the Serb a 4:2 lead. He broke Tsonga twice in the 2nd set, also at the beginning of the 3rd, and the match seemed finished. However, Tsonga won three successive games from a 2:4 deficit. He lost his serve at 5 all, but broke back in the next game to “15”. In the tie-break he led 5:3, later on saved two match points (overhead at 5:6 & ace at 7:8) and used his bigger experience in long tie-breaks to win the set (11/9). Unfortunately, the end of that set cost him too much energy, and D’Joke won the first eight points of the 4th set. He focused on his own service games and seven games later celebrated (lying on back) the triumph, winning the third match point with a service winner. It’s his second main tour level victory with a set losing from a match point up #. “It feels amazing,” said Djokovic. “When I finished the match I didn’t know how to show my emotions. I was really happy. This is one of those moments where you can’t describe it with the words. You remember all your career, all your childhood, everything you worked for, that comes true now”. Stats of the match.

2nd semifinal:
(1)Rafael Nadal d. (4)Andy Murray 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4    [2:59 h]

Murray kicked off the match in a very good, offensive style, he kept it throughout the set and extended to the beginning of the following set. At 2:1* (30/15) for him in the 2nd set, there was a crucial moment of the encounter – Murray played a great return, Nadal only delivered a high ball onto Murray’s side, but the Brit made an awful forehand error which could have given him a double break point. Since that moment Murray lost his accuracy, concentration and seven consecutive games in the consequence, although he had not been forced to save a break point prior to that moment. Nadal once being ahead is amazing tough to catch up. There was a hope for the British fans as Murray had his chances to do it, losing 1:2 with a break down in the 4th set, but the Spaniard saved two ad-break points with an offensive attitude. Nadal improves his H2H record against Murray to 12-4 ##, having won their last four meetings (each of them in semi-finals). Murray, who has lost Wimbledon semi-final three years in succession, said: “[I’m going to] work harder than I ever did before. [I’ll] try and improve my game and get stronger. Be more professional. It’s a very tough era I think in tennis. Tennis right at the top of the game is exceptional. So not only to get level with those guys, but to push past them, you need to work harder than them.Stats of the match

# Djokovic’s two wins with a match point-up losing sets:
US Open 2007, 4R: J.Monaco 7-5, 7-6(2), 6-7(6), 6-1 – 1 mp
Wimbledon 2011, SF: JW.Tsonga 7-6(4) 6-2, 6-7(9), 6-3 – 2 mp
## Grand Slam semi-finals between Murray and Nadal:
US Open, 2008: Murray d. Nadal 6-2, 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4
Wimbledon, 2010: Nadal d. Murray 6-4, 7-6(6), 6-4
Roland Garros, 2011: Nadal d. Murray 6-4, 7-5, 6-4
Wimbledon, 2011: Nadal d. Murray 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4
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Wimbledon – Day 10 (QF)

Eliding from economical arguments of the organizers, the Wimbledon quarterfinals are the toughest to follow among all four majors. I don’t see any problem that in contrary to other majors, quarterfinals in London are played within one day, but the problem is, they are held at the same time on two different courts; today Tsonga with Federer and Murray with Lopez were appointed to play on Centre Court, whilst matches Djokovic vs. Tomic and Nadal vs. Fish on Court No 1. Additional difficulty was connected today with the fact that during the first two quarter-finals, on Court No. 2, the Bryan brothers were continuing their third round encounter against S.Aspelin / P.Hanley suspended at 3:3 in the 5th set due to darkness (the Americans won that set 16-14, being two points away from defeat in two different games)…

1st quarterfinal:
(2)Novak Djokovic d. (q)Bernard Tomic 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 [2:31 h]

Djokovic was an overwhelming favorite before the match, but Tomic had his hopes because he beat Djokovic last year in an exhibition tournament at Kooyong, and had in his box the Wimbledon finalists 10 years backwards: Patrick Rafter and Goran Ivanisevic, who were sitting comfortably beside Tomic’s father – John. The young Australian hadn’t lost a service games in eight consecutive sets, but was broken as early as in the 1st game of the match. That game showed though, that Tomic would make an interesting match (a couple more than 20-stroke rallies). Tomic had two break points to lead 5:1 in the 2nd set, later on he led 3:1 in the 3rd set – since then D’Joke won seven straight games. In the 4th game of the 4th set, perhaps Tomic played his best game in the entire tournament and broke back to “love”. There was a prospect of a five-setter with Tomic leading 5:4 (30-0), but Djokovic’s maturity prevailed, the Serb made two winners (the second one clipping the line), and on break point in the following game, with a drop-shot he won an amazing 30-stroke rally, in which were around 10 slices! “He’s been playing really, really well today,” said Djokovic. “He’s been using the pace fantastically. You can see he feels really comfortable on the court. Obviously what he lacks a little bit more is that experience. But it comes with the time. I’m sure if he continues this way, he’s gonna be a top player very soon“.

2nd quarterfinal:
(12)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga d. (3)Roger Federer 3-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 [2:48 h]

Federer broke Tsonga to “15” in the 2nd game of the match, and who would’ve expected that it had been the only break point opportunity for the Swiss in this five-setter? Tsonga produced a silly error to open the 2nd set tie-break, Federer a moment later led 5:0, and after taking the set, his potential loss was almost impossible: he had won 9 consecutive sets against Jo, and hadn’t lost a match leading 2-0 for six years #. But weird things happen, and the Frenchman made breaks at the beginning of each of the next three sets (to lead 2:1 in sets 3 & 4, to lead 1:0 in the decider) which allowed him to take the occurrences under his control. Tsonga’s serve was excellent, he won 18-17 in aces, having 70% of the 1st serve in. Federer was shaky, he couldn’t construct points on Tsonga’s 2nd serve, actually in the last three sets, Federer had a slight chance for a break only at 3:4 & 4:5 in the 3rd set, leading 30-0. If Federer won this match, he would make along with Djokovic the first pair to play matches in four consecutive majors. “For me it’s just amazing,” said Tsonga. “The feeling is like maybe beating [Rafael] Nadal in Roland Garros, so it’s just amazing. And for me it will be, for sure, one of the best memories in my career anyway.”

# Federer’s three defeats from 2-sets-to-0 lead:
Davis Cup 2003, SF: L.Hewitt 7-5, 6-2, 6-7(4), 5-7, 1-6
Shanghai 2005, F: D.Nalbandian 7-6(4), 7-6(11), 2-6, 1-6, 6-7(3)
Wimbledon 2011, QF: JW.Tsonga 6-3, 7-6(3), 4-6, 4-6, 4-6
5-set barometer: 18-15 Federer, 6-2 Tsonga

3rd quarterfinal:
(4)Andy Murray d. Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 [2:01 h]

Murray served out his third consecutive advancement to the Wimbledon semifinal with three aces in a row (13 in total). It was one-sided match as most spectators would have expected.  Lopez had only two break points in the entire match, it happened at 3:4 (40-15) in the 3rd set. A slice backhand of the Spaniard went long on the first chance, the second break point Murray erased with a service winner. Lopez is beaten in the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the third time in career (previously in 2005 & 2008). “I thought it was good,” Murray said, “Feliciano looked a little tired and struggled a bit with his movement, but I thought I served well throughout the match. I’m playing well – you get pushed more and more as the rounds go on, and I’ll have to up my game.”

4th quarterfinal:
(1)Rafael Nadal d. (10)Mardy Fish 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 [2:53 h]

The first two sets were painful to watch. Fish – the top 10 player – who had lost his serve only once  in four matches (to Istomin) prior to the last eight, was broken five times by Nadal in his first 10 service games! Nadal led 1:0 with a break in the 3rd set when Fish waken somehow  to play his standard tennis. In the 12th game he risked backhand return, then forehand down the line and won the set. Unfortunately for him, Nadal made a vital break in the 3rd game of the 4th set and finished the match with a serve & volley action on his first match point. “I started the first two sets playing very well but made mistakes in third and lost my intensity,” the 25-year-old  defending champion said. Fish, like Feliciano Lopez, has lost three major quarterfinals, three years ago in New York he lost the previous GS quarter-final to Nadal in four sets as well…

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Wimbledon – Day 8 (4R)

Wimbledon distinguishes itself from other majors, inter alia as the only event, in which the 4th round is played during one day, it happens due to day-off on the first Sunday of the tournament.
Amazing match, and very untypical for nowadays standards (serve and volley from both ends) on Court No. 3 won Feliciano Lopez [44], surviving a 5-set thriller with a qualifier Lukasz Kubot. The Pole [93] had a chance of his life to win this match in three different sets. In the 3rd set tie-break, Lopez’s challenge deprived Kubot a 4:1 lead. A couple minutes later Q-bot had a match point on serve at 6:5 and played a tentative backhand volley, Lopez passed him with a huge forehand. At 6:7 Lopez saved the second match point with a forehand winner at the net. In the 4th set Q-bot led 4:3 with a break, later on squandered three mini-match points at 5:5. Finally, in the 5th set Q-bot had a break point at 3:3 – Lopez served an ace (28 in total, Kubot 27 – personal best). The Spaniard converted his third match point after Kubot’s forehand error and advanced for the third time to the Wimbledon quarterfinals, for the fourth time winning a Wimbledon match from a match point down, which I suppose might be a specific record taking into account a Grand Slam tournament #.
Mardy Fish [9] adds to his resume Wimbledon as third different major quarter-final. The highest ranked American, despite a suitable game-style for grass, had never played even the fourth round at Wimbledon in his previous eight appearances. Today he ousted the last year’s finalist Tomas Berdych [7] 7-6, 6-4, 6-4, thanks to brilliant service performance (22 aces, faced two break points). It was their first encounter, although they’ve been playing on the tour together for eight years!
Bernard Tomic dismissed Xavier Malisse [42] in straight sets (81 minutes) on Court No. 18, facing just two break points, and becomes the 7th player in the Open era to play in quarterfinals at Wimbledon ##. It’s incredibly promising stats for him because among those six guys, only Vijay Amritraj hasn’t won the Wimbledon title! Tomic hasn’t lost a service game in 8 consecutive sets, this streak will be extremely tough to keep in the next round where awaits Novak Djokovic [2] after a 3x ‘6-3’ win over Michael Llodra [35]. After a set and a half there was a prospect that Llodra would give D’Joke a run for his money, but played a pathetic game at 3:3 (30-15): missed an easy overhead followed by simple volley-error, later on served two double faults in a row… “I never thought I’d be here the second week, especially in the quarter-finals. What a feeling and what a tournament it’s been for me. It’s an unbelievable achievement. I’ve learnt a lot. It’s a great honour to do it here in Wimbledon. I’m at a position now where I’ve never been happier. I’m looking forward to playing on Wednesday.” said Tomic, just the fourth qualifier to play in the Wimbledon quarter-finals ###.
Rafael Nadal [1] survived a 3-hour 52-minute scare against Juan Martin del Potro [21]. At the end of the 1st set, the Spaniard needed a treatment to his sore left heel. When came back on court a few minutes later, Del Potro jumped quickly to a 3:0 lead in the tie-break. Nadal won the next two points after long rallies to hang out there, afterwards he fought off a set point on serve to win the set (8-6) and the match 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, consisted of only two breaks of serve. Also Roger Federer [3] needed four sets to beat Mikhail Youzhny [17] the 11th time in succession.

Longest match:
4 hours, 18 minutes – Feliciano Lopez d. Lukasz Kubot 3-6, 6-7(5), 7-6(7), 7-5, 7-5
Most aces:
28 – Feliciano Lopez, defeated Lukasz Kubot in five sets
5-set barometer:
13-8 Feliciano Lopez
8-5 Lukasz Kubot
# Lopez’s four Wimbledon wins from a match point down:
2002, 1R: K.Economidis 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6(2), 11-9 – 1 mp
2002, 2R: G.Canas 4-6, 2-6, 7-6(7), 7-5, 10-8 – 6 mp
2008, 4R: M.Baghdatis 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(4), 8-6 – 3 mp
2011, 4R: L.Kubot 3-6, 6-7(5), 7-6(7), 7-5, 7-5 – 2 mp
## Teenagers to play quarterfinals (or better) at Wimbledon:
17 years 13 days, Bjorn Borg – 1973
17 years 7 months, Boris Becker – 1985
18 years 4 months, John McEnroe – 1977
18 years 8 months, Bernard Tomic – 2011
18 years 9 months, Goran Ivanisevic – 1990
19 years 1 month, Pat Cash – 1984
19 years 6 months, Vijay Amritraj – 1973
### Qualifiers who advanced to Wimbledon quarterfinals:
1977: John McEnroe (No. 270)
1984: Paul Annacone (No. 243)

1985: Ricardo Acuna (No. 130)
2000: Vladimir Voltchkov (No. 237)
2011: Bernard Tomic (No. 158)
* McEnroe and Voltchkov finished their journey in semifinals
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Wimbledon – Day 5 + 6 (2R/3R)

Unfortunately rain again reminded itself on Friday, three second-round matches were concluded, but 5 out of 8 three-round encounters were suspended to Saturday…
Two youngest players on the tour, Ryan Harrison [122] and Bernard Tomic [158] played five-setters (2nd round) with a different outcome – Harrison lost on Friday two sets, Tomic won two. On the following day, Tomic made the biggest upset dismissing in straight sets Robin Soderling. I guess it’s interesting that Tomic hasn’t lost a service game in the last two days (two sets with Andreev, three with Soderling). The 18-year-old Australian hasn’t got spectacular game, but he has absolutely amazing timing, anticipation and clever strategy. Beside this he is tall, so we can expect some progress considering his 1st serve. Among young guns (born in the 90’s) who are already known, now then Raonic, Dimitrov, Harrison & Tomic, I expect the latter might have the most successful career. It should be a breakthrough tournament for him, especially that he now faces instable Xavier Malisse, thus chances of reaching the quarterfinals are high.  “I really came in today giving myself a chance. I think I played really relaxed in the first set,” Tomic said, “I didn’t think I could win at the start. But the way I was playing, I was questioning myself. [And] after that first set, it opened up a lot of doors.”
Three players (Rafael Nadal, Juan Marin del Potro and Feliciano Lopez) won their matches in straight sets needing tie-breaks in the first two sets. Nadal was surprised by great service performance of Gilles Muller. The defending champion saved a double set point in the 1st set, was two points away from losing the 2nd set. Del Potro had some troubles in each set of his match with Gilles Simon, which won 7-6, 7-6, 7-5. ‘DelPo’  fought off two set points in the first tie-break, was *2:4 (30 all) down in the 2nd set and *4:5 (15-30) in the 3rd set. F.Lopez [44] avenged seven straight defeats to Andy Roddick. The Spaniard won both tie-breaks 7-2 thanks to three great passing shots, two from his weaker backhand side. He fired 28 aces (Roddick 23). Unexpectedly Lopez’s opponent in the next round will be Lukasz Kubot [93], who much more better dealt with a two-day encounter. His match with Gael Monfils was suspended at one set apiece and 3:3 (deuce) in the 3rd set; after the resumption Kubot got a break and notched a streak of six winning games! 4th round at Wimbledon is arguably the biggest success in career of ‘Q-bot’. The 28-year-old Pole a year ago played the 4th round at the Australian Open, but won only two matches then (walkover in the third round), this year in London he’s overcome six rounds (three in the qualifying tournament).
Roger Federer [3] and David Nalbandian [23] joined a relatively narrow group of 16 pairs # to play against each other in all major events. Federer missed an overhead from the easiest possible position on his first match point, but stayed cool and a couple minutes later converted his 4th match point to get an easy 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win.

Longest match:
3 hours, 30 minutes – David Ferrer d. Ryan Harrison 6-7(6), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
Most aces:
28 – Feliciano Lopez, defeated Andy Roddick in three sets
5-set barometer:
14-9 David Ferrer
6-9 Igor Andreev
0-2 Ryan Harrison
1-1 Bernard Tomic
# Pairs of players who have faced each other at all four majors (in parantheses – years between they did it; in brackets – their H2H records in majors):
(1985-1987) H.Leconte vs. A.Mansdorf [4-0]
(1980-1989) I.Lendl vs. J.McEnroe [7-3]
(1983-1989) M.Wilander vs. J.McEnroe [3-2]
(1991-1993) J.Courier vs. S.Edberg [4-2]
(1991-1994) P.Sampras vs. J.Courier [6-2]
(1989-1995) P.Sampras vs. M.Chang [4-1]
(1990-1995) P.Sampras vs. A.Agassi [6-3]
(1992-1996) P.Sampras vs. T.Martin [6-1]
(1994-2000) P.Sampras vs. M.Tillstrom [5-0]
(1995-2000) P.Sampras vs. M.Philippoussis [5-2]
(2004-2006) R.Federer vs. N.Kiefer [4-0]
(2002-2006) M.Safin vs. O.Rochus [3-1]
(2005-2007) D.Tursunov vs. T.Henman [3-1]
(2001-2009)  L.Hewitt vs. A.Roddick [3-2]
(2007-2009) R.Federer vs. JM.Del Potro [3-1]
(2007-2011) R.Nadal vs. A.Murray [4-2]
(2003-2011) R.Federer vs. D.Nalbandian [4-2]
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Wimbledon – Day 4 (2R)

Rain interrupted matches a couple times. One of the rain-breaks helped Jo-Wilfried Tsonga [19] to avoid a 5-set match against Grigor Dimitrov [62]. When the match was resumed in the 4th set, Tsonga saved a break point at 0:3 and the momentum totally swung in his favor. He led 5:3* (30-15), in the following game had two match points (double fault and Dimitrov’s passing-shot), but the young Bulgarian managed to make another swing and a few minutes later had a double set point. In the tie-break, Tsonga led 4:2, then Dimitrov saved three match points. At 8:8 Tsonga won the point with an awkward volley falling on the grass. On the sixth match point, Dimitrov dived, but couldn’t control his volley and Tsonga celebrated spectacular win (6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6) jumping over the net. Dimitrov was smiling in the end picked up by Tsonga from the court, happy with a good performance on a big stage (Court No. 2); he is the youngest player in the Top 100, but his idol Federer, ten years ago exactly at the same age, ousted Sampras on Centre Court at Wimbledon in five grueling sets… A two-day meeting of Juan Martin del Potro [21] with Olivier Rochus [73] had two completely different phases. Yesterday evening, Del Potro had problems with his movement on a slippery court, lost a tie-break wasting one set point and visibly disconsolate threw away his shoes into the crowd. Today he was pleased throwing wristbands into the crowd after a quick demolition his 30 cm shorter opponent. Del Potro sealed a 6-7, 6-1, 6-0, 6-4 win with 30th ace – his personal record.  John Isner [47] obtained amazing experience in winning service games on Court No. 18 last year, during the extraordinary marathon against Mahut. Today he came back on that court to play against Nicolas Almagro [15], and won 18 consecutive games on serve, but it was enough only to win one out of three tie-break sets. At the beginning of the 4th set Almagro (23 aces) broke Isner’s serve (28 aces) the only time in the match to post a 7-6, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 victory just before the darkness (the match would’ve been probably suspended if Almagro had not won the 9th game). I haven’t noticed particular changes in Robin Soderling‘s [5] game in the last few years. The Swede has added to his repertoire better slice, but he serves, hits ground-strokes and plays average volleys as always. What distinguishes Soderling as a No. 20-50 in years 2004-2008 from Soderling as a strong Top 5 player in the last two years… his mentality. He confirmed it today on Centre Court playing against the former champion Lleyton Hewitt [130]. Being 2-sets-to-0 down, Soderling won four points in a row at 3:3 (0-30) and an hour later, broke back immediately at the beginning of the 5th set. His almost 4-hour win over the most experienced 5-set active player, Soderling celebrated on the knees. “I tried not to think about the scoreline. Instead, I tried to keep looking forward. I know I was playing pretty well. I served well. And if I could just start to move a little bit better, start to return a little bit better than the first two sets, I knew I had a good chance.” ‘Toad’ assessed.

Three matches have been suspended at 9 p.m. (each of them in the 4th set) due to darkness: Harrison vs. Ferrer (2-1, 2:4), Melzer vs. Tursunov (2-1, 1:1) & Andreev vs. Tomic (2-1, 0:0).

Longest match:
3 hours, 54 minutes – Robin Soderling d. Lleyton Hewitt 6-7(5), 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4
Most aces:
30 – Juan Martin del Potro, defeated Olivier Rochus in 4 sets
5-set barometer:
30-17 Lleyton Hewitt
8-9 Robin Soderling
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Wimbledon, 21-19 in the 3rd set!

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There was an amazing doubles battle on court No. 6 where Colombians, Juan Sebastian Cabal and  Robert Farah faced so-called “Indo-Pak express”, consisted of Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (seeded No. 4). The Colombians served 15 times to stay in … Continue reading

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Wimbledon – Day 3 (1R/2R)

Today’s matches started more than three hours later than had been scheduled due to rain. Despite this inconvenience, only one match has been postponed to tomorrow (Del Potro-O.Rochus 6-7…) because all second round matches in the top half of the draw were finished in 3 or 4 sets. The only today’s 5-setter comes from the two-day encounter between Kevin Anderson and Illya Marchenko which was suspended at the end of the 4th set on Tuesday. In the other two-day 1st round clash of two ‘ball-bashers’, Dmitry Tursunov [53] won two tie-breaks on Wednesday against Ernests Gulbis [75], which gave him a 4-set win. Especially the first tie-break was interesting as Gulbis had squandered three set points (6:5, 10:9, 12:11), before lost it 12-14, and the whole match 3-6, 6-3, 6-7(12), 6-7(1). Yesterday I mentioned amazing streak of long tie-breaks won by Mannarino, Gulbis is in opposite to the Frenchman. The  gifted Latvian (but very annoying in regard of lack of positive attitude), loses long tie-breaks regularly #. Against Tursunov, he really should have finally notched a winning long tie-break, but at 10:9 instead of finishing the point with a forehand winner, decided to play a drop-shot and lost the point four strokes later. Gulbis, once a Grand Slam quarter-finalist, has lost eight consecutive matches in majors…
The best grass-court players in the top half of the draw, Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick won their matches without any troubles, Nadal for the third time this year destroyed Ryan Sweeting. The No. 1 in the world said with a courtesy after his first Wimbledon match played indoors: “I think I was playing aggressive and with good feelings. But 2-1, 40-Love, I had a few mistakes, and he broke me back. And after [that], the match was tougher and closer.”

Longest match:
3 hours, 52 minutes – Kevin Anderson d. Illya Marchenko 6-7(4), 7-6(7), 6-4, 4-6, 6-1
Most aces:
28 – Feliciano Lopez, defeated Rainer Schuettler in 4 sets
5-set barometer:
3-4 Kevin Anderson
0-2 Illya Marchenko
# Gulbis’s all (at least) 18-point tie-breaks at the main level:
<<< 8-10, 9-11, 11-13, 9-11, 8-10, 8-10, 8-10, 8-10, 12-14 >>>
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Wimbledon – Day 2 (1R)

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic began their title quest with straight sets victories. If they meet each other in the semifinal, they will make a first pair in the Open era to play in four consecutive majors! Federer has already made an irrelevant milestone winning 300th tie-break in his career (against Kukushkin), he joined Pete Sampras as the second player in history to achieve such a feat #. The Swiss is self-confident: “It feels like if things go well for me, I can go extremely far here; whereas at the French Open I feel it’s a bit more on other opponents’ racquets. But here I feel it’s a bit more on mine.”
Fernando Verdasco [22] is commonly known as a choker, considering “the best of three” matches, but he is one of the best specialist of 5-set matches. Today for the third time within the last four majors, he won a match from two-sets-to-love down, and every time he did it against an experienced opponent ##! Today he saved a match point in the 4th set tie-break against Radek Stepanek [60], despite the Czech played three volleys at the crucial rally. It’s funny that during this year’s Australian Open, Verdasco saved  one out of three match points against Tipsarevic, playing also three passing-shots on match point down! ‘Nando’ showed today mental resistance in the 5th set too, as he played patiently very long rally at *7:7 (0-30), putting away backhand DTL winner – it was a turning point, the Spaniard won 9 of the last 11 points since then.
It was a day of five-setters in general, nine matches went to the distance. Frank Dancevic [164] lost his match arguably in a more bitter fashion than Stepanek – leading 2-1, he was 5:2* (deuce) up against Ricardo Mello [89], later on had a double match point in the tie-break. It is the second Dancevic’s loss to Mello from a 2-0 advantage ###! James Blake [102] confirmed his status of the biggest 5-set choker beside Ivo Karlovic among active players, losing to Marcos Baghdatis [30] despite a 3:1* lead in the 5th set. Lukasz Kubot [93] in the third consecutive Grand Slam tournament, wins his opening match after a five-setter, each time making it with a two-game advantage in the decider. 23-year-old Adrian Mannarino [55] became one of 5-set winners today as well, coming back from a 1:4* deficit in the final set, but I noticed something perverse in that win – he won a tie-break ‘9-7’; I associated that he’d won ‘9-7′ and ’16-14’ tie-breaks at Queens Club two weeks ago, so I checked his activity and discovered that the guy has won on different levels the last 15 tie-breaks he played, when at least 14 points where required (!!), which is absolutely incredible in my opinion, totally against probability ####.
John Isner [47] and Nicolas Mahut [94] created that unforgettable epic match at Wimbledon ’10 in the first round, the fate/chance caused their another first round clash at the All England & Cricket Club, but this time on court No. 3 (No. 18 twelve months ago), and Isner needed only three sets (7-6, 6-2, 7-6) to set up a 2-1 lead in the  H2H against the Frenchman. Here is a comparison of their two Wimbledon first-round encounters. It’s the eight time in the Wimbledon Open Era history that players met in the first round in back-to-back tournaments #####. Three matches have been suspended at 9.26 p.m. due to darkness: Gulbis vs. Tursunov (1-1, 5:5), Anderson vs. Marchenko (2-1, 3:5), Dimitrov vs. Stebe (2-0, 3:3)…

Longest match:
4 hours, 3 minutes – Karol Beck d. Carlos Berlocq 4-6, 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-2, 6-4
Most aces:
39 –  Andreas Haider-Maurer, defeated Florent Serra in 3 sets
5-set barometer:
15-8 Fernando Verdasco
15-9 Mikhail Youzhny
12-18 Radek Stepanek
12-19 Arnaud Clement
11-20 Olivier Rochus
10-6 Marcos Baghdatis
8-4 Lukasz Kubot
6-5 Karol Beck
6-8 Igor Andreev
5-2 Ricardo Mello
4-14 James Blake
3-5 Juan Monaco
2-0 Adrian Mannarino
2-3 Teimuraz Gabashvili
2-7 Frank Dancevic
1-4 Conor Niland
0-1 Carlos Berlocq, Kenny De Schepper
# Five players with the most winning tie-breaks in history:
1) Pete Sampras – 328
2) Roger Federer – 300
3) Andy Roddick – 288
4) Goran Ivanisevic – 276
5) Greg Rusedski – 256
## Verdasco’s three wins from 0-2 down in sets in the last four majors:
US Open 2010, 4R: David Ferrer 5-7, 6-7(8), 6-3, 6-3, 7-6(4)
Aussie Open 2011, 2R: Janko Tipsarevic 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(0), 6-0
Wimbledon 2011, 1R: Radek Stepanek 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(6), 9-7
### Mello’s two wins over Dancevic from 0-2 in sets:
Davis Cup 2007: Mello d. Dancevic 3-6, 6-7(7), 6-3, 6-3, 11-9
Wimbledon 2011: Mello d. Dancevic  3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(6), 6-2
#### At least 14-point tie-breaks of Mannarino since Autumn 2008:
<<< 9-7, 8-6, 12-10, 8-6, 8-6, 8-6, 8-6, 8-6, 9-7, 8-6, 11-9, 9-7, 9-7, 16-14, 9-7  >>>
##### Repeating matches in back-to-back Wimbledons (1R) in the Open era:
1970-71 Marty Riessen vs. Jim McManus [2-0]
1988-89 Richey Reneberg vs. Christian Saceanu [2-0]
1990-91 Shuzo Matsuoka vs. Luiz Mattar [1-1]
1993-94 Mark Woodforde vs. Shuzo Matsuoka [2-0]
2000-01 Arvind Parmar vs. Andre Sa [2-0]
2006-07 Benjamin Becker vs. Juan Ignacio Chela [1-1]
2007-08 Fernando Gonzalez vs. Robby Ginepri [2-0]
2010-11 John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut [2-0]
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Wimbledon – Day 1 (1R)

There was no rain at Wimbledon last year, just for the sixth time in history of the oldest tournament in tennis (it happened also in 1931, 1976, 1977, 1993, 1995), but the rain fell down as early as on the first day of this year’s event. 18 out of 32 matches have been finished, 10 other postponed to Tuesday, 4 pairs supposed to play, didn’t even step onto the court… The defending champion, Rafael Nadal [1], despite a sloppy start (2:4*, 30 all), won easily his first match against Michael Russell 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. Nadal’s potential semifinal opponent – Andy Murray – had some troubles through a set and half with a clay-courter Daniel Gimeno-Traver in the first match of this year’s Wimbledon which was played indoors. Gimeno held his serve in the first 8 games, but when was broken for the first time, couldn’t hold his serve to the end of the match, and Murray won 15 games in a row to notch a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 victory. As usual, grass opens a possibility to serve more aces than anywhere. Today displayed it Milos Raonic [25], Mardy Fish [9] and Gilles Muller [92] – the first two guys served almost 30 aces winning all service games, the third one hit almost 40, but was broken twice. Fish during his 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 win over Marcel Granollers, wasn’t even forced to save a single break point, although the American didn’t show anything impressive beside his serve. Muller and Raonic face each other next and we can expect a battle of serves, the winner of this match will very likely take up to a third round clash with Nadal.

Longest match:
3 hours, 44 minutes: Ryan Sweeting d. Pablo Andujar 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(1), 6-1
Most aces:
37 – Gilles Muller, defeated Tommy Haas in 4 sets
5-set barometer:
6-4 Julien Benneteau
1-0 Ryan Sweeting
0-1 Ruben Bemelmans
0-2 Pablo Andujar
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