Upsets, underdogs and golden sets. Oh my!
Wimbledon 2012 has been more like a reality show than a sporting event with all of the twists and turns this first week at the All England Club. From many of the top players in the world being ousted by unknown names to record-breaking matches, anything now seems possible at Wimbledon.
In just seven days there has already been more unpredictable drama than most grand slam tournaments have in a fortnight. Let’s look back at the biggest surprises from the first week at Wimbledon.
Hands down, Rafael Nadal losing in the second round of Wimbledon was the biggest surprise of the week—and may well be for the whole tournament.
Nadal, an 11-time Grand Slam champ (two of them won at the All England Club), lost to unknown No. 100 Lukas Rosol. Who would have thought that the Spaniard, fresh off a win at the French Open, would lose to the young, untested Czech?
Although the outcome was a surprise, Rosol deserved the win. He swung for the fences and made the clutch shots when they counted. It’s isn’t unusual to see a power match on grass, but every hard ball that Rafa hit, Rosol returned harder which left Nadal often on his heels. It was a close match, going five sets, but Rosol’s 6-7(9-11), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 was justly earned and by far the biggest surprise of the week.
Not only did Tamira Paszek surprise the crowds at the All England Club by upsetting No. 7 Caroline Wozniaki in the first round of Wimbledon 2012, and somewhat surprisingly is still in the tournament—which is more than can be said for the flashing Lukas Rosol.
The unseeded Austrian woman has done quite well at Wimbledon in the past, reaching the quarterfinals last year—her best performance at a grand slam tournament to date. Last year after defeating Yanina Wickmayer in a marathon match, she is hoping to do even better this year.
Based on her past match records, Paszek is a regular comeback queen, winning against both Wozniaki and Wickmayer after dropping the first set.
There is no question that Paszek is good under pressure and with the competition really improving there will certainly be more challenging matches ahead.
Although No. 16 Marin Cilic and Sam Querrey’s 5 hours and 31 minute match was only half as long as John Isner and Nicolas Mahut’s 11 hours and 5 minute marathon at the All England Club in 2010, it was definitely a memorable and gritty match.
There were highlight shots throughout this duel ending 17-15 for Cilic in the fifth and deciding set. This match is now officially the second-longest match in Wimbledon history. Sam Querrey, coming back from surgery last year, almost upset yet another highly seeded player before finally losing 6-7(6), 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(3), 15-17.
It’s not too often that matches—especially ones that pit an unseeded player against a highly seeded player—go over three or four hours, which is what makes this third round match such a treat to watch.
It’s one thing to win a match; it’s another to win a set without letting your opponent win a single point. Doing so is called a golden set and it’s one of the most elusive accomplishments in tennis. However, Yaroslava Shvedova didn’t drop a single point in their first set against the 2012 French Open finalist Sara Errani, breaking more than a few records along the way.
Not only was her 24-straight-point win the first golden set since Bill Scanlon against Marcos Hocevar at the Gold Coast Classic in 1983, it was the first at the All England Club and the first in women’s tennis since the professional era began in 1968.
Shvedova took the second set 6-4, advancing to the fourth round. Shvedova may be a hard name to spell and even harder to say, but after Saturday it’s one you’ll certainly be hearing more about.