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  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 , 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
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