Sunday, 3 July 2016

Djokovic No Answer to Sam's Querrey

Over Days 5 and 6 at SW19, there was more rain, but not enough to prevent further shock results on the grass, one in particular which won't be topped for the remainder of the tournament and possibly for many months, maybe years to come.

Sam Querrey, the 28th seed, is a more than competent player on this surface, and equipped with one of the biggest serves going around.  He was switched on for the third round match with Novak Djokovic and the first set was a servers delight, a tie break inevitably required.  Where the top seed normally exerts his authority, Querrey instead brought the pressure to bear, winning key points and taking the set 7-6 (the tie break 8-6).  Losing the first set normally wouldn't be a huge worry for Djokovic - but the fact that he could only win 4 points out of 34 from the American's serve did create concerns.

These concerns simply grew exponentially in a second set disaster for Novak where from 1-1 he lost the final five games.  Querrey won 53% of points from the Djokovic serve whereas Novak could only manage to score from 32% of Querrey's deliveries.  The tall American hit 10 winners for the set and only committed 3 unforced errors.  As soon as Querrey had established his 7-6 6-1 lead, rain forced suspension of play - a blessing for Djokovic.

Upon resumption of the match on Saturday - Day 6 - the top seed raced to a 4-0 lead in the third set before another rain interruption.  On court again the third set was won by Djokovic 6-3 and he was back with a chance.  However serving with a break at 5-4 in the fourth Novak was broken back, and then forced to fight a second tie break in the match.  (Not before another rain delay at 5-6) That was a cue for Querrey to step it up and create history by denying Novak his slice of history (not that he hasn't rewritten his fair share of late !) Sam pleased Uncle Sam, winning the tie break 7 points to 5 and the match 7-6 6-1 3-6 7-6.
This is the first time that Djokovic hasn't reached at least the quarter final of a major since Roland Garros 2009.  In one way it is a circuit breaker that takes all talk of Calendar Year Grand Slam and other statistical records off the table and off his back.

The result made Sam a happy man, and everyone else left in the men's field pleased.  Andy and Roger conveyed their pleasure through words as they don't actually smile in public.  Andy wasn't taught the word at school.

On Day 5, other matches were either started and finished (not many), started and not finished, or finished from a previous time (not many) - Juan Martin Del Potro, on his comeback journey, made his most significant mark yet on that trip, ending fourth seed Stan Wawrinka's dreams in the second round.  Tomas Berdych easily made it through to the third round; Nick Kyrgios is also there, but needed to come from 2 sets to 1 down against Dustin Brown to do it.  Another Australian, qualifier Matthew Barton, but pushed John Isner to three tie break sets (2 of them going to 10-8) before bowing out, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was an impressive straight sets winner.

Serena Williams lost her opening set to compatriot Christina McHale but stormed back to win in three and make the third round.  Older sister Venus also took three to win her third round match, but 10-8 was not the length of set that she'd planned to decide the match.
Sveta Kuznetsova won in three to advance to round three, while Carla Suarez Navarro used the fast lane two set method to reach the round of sixteen.  Barbora Strycova won in straight sets too to book a third round spot.

Saturday was more accommodating weather wise, but still the rain made its nuisance value known to all and sundry.
All remaining second round matches were completed and as many third round clashes as could be crammed into the schedule were spread over available courts.

Ekaterina Makarova ousted two time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova in the second round in two sets, ripping further my pre tournament forecasts to shreds. So much for a semi final appearance.

Halep, Kerber, Radwanska and Cibulkova all advanced to the round of sixteen with straight sets wins, and Madison Keys joined them, although it took her a set longer.
Also in the fourth round are unseeded Misaki Doi and Yaroslava Shvedova, the latter surprisingly too strong for Sabine Lisicki who until now had looked so confident.
Lucie Safarova put a quick end to Jana Cepelova's period of glory - having beaten the second seed Garbine Muguruza, Jana couldn't back it up and the 2015 Roland Garros runner-up joined Strycova as Czech Republic representation left in the draw.

Fourth round encounters to keep an eye on are third seed Radwanska v  19th seed Cibulkova and 5th seed Halep v 9th seed Keys.  Cibulkova defeated Radwanska en route to winning Eastbourne just prior to Wimbledon, and Keys won the grass court event at Birmingham.  The lower ranked players could end up as the quarter finalists from those battles.

Alexander Zverev survived a five setter against Mikhail Youzhny to reach the third round, while seeds Murray, Nishikori, Raonic, Cilic, Goffin and Tomic all progressed to the fourth round, together with unseeded Mahut and Johnson.
Bernard Tomic, seeded 19, overcame higher ranked Roberto Bautista Agut, seeded 14 in three decisive sets.
Nishikori v Cilic and Raonic v Goffin are fourth round matches which promise plenty.

When play was suspended four third round matches were in progress:

Kyrgios and Lopez were a set apiece
Isner led Tsonga 2 sets to 1
Pouille led Del Potro 2 sets to 1
Gasquet led Ramos-Vinolas 2 sets to 1

The middle Sunday is scheduled as a rest day for Wimbledon (the only Grand Slam tournament where this occurs) but because of the rain delays, and resultant backlog of matches, there will be tennis played on the rest day this year.

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