Wimbledon 2013: The Biggest Surprises from the 1st Week
It has been one of the wackiest first weeks in Wimbledon history.
Draws are destroyed, champions have gone fishing and unseeded players are skipping into the second week of Wimbledon. Remember that Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal quarterfinal that we were all worked up about last week? Yeah, that's not happening.
From Nadal's loss on Monday to Bernard Tomic's impressive upset of Richard Gasquet on Saturday, there have been twists and turns at every corner of The Championships.
As we catch our breath on Middle Sunday, here's a look at the 10 biggest surprises in a week that was chock-full of them.
10. Canadian Genie Bouchard Easily Upsets Former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic
The first of a few female teenagers on this list, Genie Bouchard came into Wimbledon trailing a bit behind the rest of her precocious generation in the breakthrough category. But boy did that change on Wednesday.
With her second-round match moved swiftly to Centre Court after Victoria Azarenka withdrew, the 19-year-old Bouchard didn't let the big stage phase her at all. She played phenomenally consistent yet aggressive baseline tennis to simply knock 2008 French Open Champion, former Wimbledon semifinalist and No. 12 seed Ana Ivanovic off the court.
Ranked No. 66 in the world right now, Bouchard is sky-rocketing up the rankings and will definitely be one to watch this summer on the hard courts.
9. Troubled Bernard Tomic Makes It Back to the Round of 16
Australian Bernard Tomic came into Wimbledon ranked No. 59 and in the middle of a rough season. His father and coach has been banned by the ATP and Wimbledon after being arrested for assaulting Tomic's hitting partner. Plus, the 20-year-old went through a stretch from February through mid-June where he failed to win back-to-back matches.
But he found his form on the lawns of Wimbledon, where he made the quarterfinals in 2011. He upset Sam Querrey in the first round and routed James Blake in the second. Then he played some of the best tennis of his career to upset No. 9 seed Richard Gasquet 7-6, 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 to make it to the second week of The Championships for the second time in his young career.
It's a joy to see this youngster get his season, and hopefully career, back on track.
8. Teenager Monica Puig Upsets No. 5 Seed and Makes the 2nd Week
Monica Puig is certainly one to watch. The 19-year-old from Puerto Rico made her Grand Slam main-draw debut last month at the French Open and made it to the third round. She carried over that success to Wimbledon and managed to start things off with a bang by trouncing the No. 5 player in the world, Sara Errani, 6-3, 6-2.
She followed up her upset beautifully by taking out Silvia Soler-Espinosa and Eva Birnerova in tough three-setters. This run is especially impressive considering how new she is to grass-court tennis.
Puig will face American Sloane Stephens, a mature 20, in the fourth round for a spot in the quarterfinals. The future of women's tennis is looking very bright.
7. Laura Robson Is 1st British Woman in 15 Years to Make the 4th Round
Speaking of the future of women's tennis, meet Laura Robson. Robson has been making big noise at the past few Grand Slams, but nothing compares to what she has been able to do at this tournament with an entire nation watching in close quarters.
In the first round, she became the first British woman to topple a top-10 seed in 15 years when she took out No. 10 Maria Kirilenko in straight sets. She bettered that on Saturday when she came back from a set and a break down to beat Marina Erakovic 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 to make it to the second week of her hometown slam.
Ranked No. 38 in he world, the 19-year-old will have a fabulous opportunity to make the quarterfinals when she faces Kaia Kanepi in the fourth round. Andy Murray finally has some British company!
6. Kenny De Schepper and Adrian Mannarino Are the Last French Men Remaining
No, 80 Kenny de Schepper and No. 111 Adrian Mannarino (pictured) are the 10th and 13th ranked Frenchmen, but somehow they're the only two left standing in the round of 16.
It was a disastrous tournament for the favored Frenchmen. No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who usually excels on grass, pulled out of his second-round match with a knee injury. No. 19 Gilles Simon fell in the first round to Feliciano Lopez. No. 28 Jeremy Chardy, No. 9 Richard Gasquet and No. 25 Benoit Paire all crashed out in the third round, the latter two to lower-ranked opponents.
But De Schepper and Mannarino both took full advantage of injuries and openings in their draws and seized the moment to make it to the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time in their careers. It's shocking but wonderful to see lower-ranked guys step out of the shadows.
5. Qualifier Dustin Brown Upsets Lleyton Hewitt
Dustin Brown's incredible story almost got lost in the shuffle of Wacky Wednesday, but it was still one of the feel-good surprises of the tournament. After Rafael Nadal went crashing out, the draw seemed to open up for Lleyton Hewitt, the 2002 champion who took out No. 11 Stanislas Wawrinka in the first round.
Enter Dustin Brown, the Jamaican-born but German-representing qualifier. Ranked No. 189 in the world and nicknamed "Dreddy" (for obvious reasons), Brown captivated the Wimbledon crowd with an old-school serve-and-volley masterclass. He further destroyed the draw by taking out Hewitt, but he was so much fun to watch that nobody minded.
Even though he crashed out in the next round to Adrian Mannarino, it was still wonderful to see the 28-year-old get his moment on the big stage.
4. Victoria Azarenka Withdraws Before Her 2nd-Round Match
Victoria Azarenka came into Wimbledon after her best French Open ever looking to challenge Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams for the title. All of that changed in an instant when she suffered a nasty fall in her first-round match. The No. 2 seed writhed in pain and tears on the grass for a few minutes before getting back up and limping to the win.
But the day off didn't improve her fortunes. Azarenka kicked off one of the of the craziest days in Wimbledon history when she withdrew from the competition before her second-round match against Flavia Pennetta on Wednesday with a knee injury.
It was a big blow to the tournament and a shocking reminder that everything can change in an instant.
3. Maria Sharapova Falls to No. 131 Michelle Larcher De Brito in 2nd Round
After Victoria Azarenka withdrew on Wednesday, it seemed like Maria Sharapova had a clear path to her third Wimbledon final. Not so fast.
Out of nowhere the Russian played an atrocious match and went down in straight sets to the big-hitting but young and erratic Michelle Larcher de Brito from Portugal. The slippery grass didn't help Sharapova, who slipped and slided throughout the match.
It was Sharapova's worst loss at a Grand Slam in her career and a huge step backward after an extremely consistent season. It also blew open the bottom half of the women's draw and reminded us all not to count our eggs before they hatch.
2. Rafael Nadal Crashes Out in Straight Sets in the 1st Round to Steve Darcis
Rafael Nadal came into Wimbledon on a 22-match winning streak, having just dominated clay season, and picked up his eight French Open trophy in the process. He looked to be back to his old self—the same Rafa who made five out of six Wimbledon finals from 2006 to 2011.
It turns out that was not the case, as Nadal crashed out meekly in the first round to No. 135 Steve Darcis. It wasn't just the result that was surprising, it was the way it unfolded: Nadal was outplayed from the first ball to the last and simply never looked comfortable on a surface where he used to thrive.
It was a loss that sent shockwaves and questions throughout the tennis community and one that made us all question whether we'd ever see grass-court dominance from the great Rafael Nadal again. His knees just might not allow it.
1. Roger Federer Loses to Sergiy Stakhovsky, Ends Grand Slam Quarterfinal Streak
We all knew it had to happen someday, but I'm not sure that anyone thought that day would be last Wednesday.
The most impressive streak in tennis, Roger Federer's run of 36 straight Grand Slam quarterfinals, came unceremoniously to an end in the second round as he lost in four tight sets to unheralded Ukranian Sergiy Stakhovsky, the No. 116 player in the world.
It was shocking to see Federer look human on the Wimbledon Centre Court that he has owned all of these years. It was distressing to be faced with the fact that at this stage in his career, Federer just isn't going to have all of the answers. Mostly, it was a reminder to never take greatness for granted, because it's always fleeting.