Time Line: Wimbledon 2013.
Wimbledon 2013 has been a Grand Slam filled with more than its share of surprises, including huge upsets. We've all grown accustomed to order, especially in the men's draw where the top four seeds usually advance to the final stages of majors.
But that is changing. Wimbledon is, perhaps, the precipice when the powers that be begin to shift and slide.
This change in the tennis landscape has the effect of empowering the other players to try harder, knowing they have a shot to win on a very big stage.
Several players who were penciled into the final eight have fallen by the wayside. It all began on the first day, extending through the seventh day of action—so far.
Players on both sides of the draw have suffered injury and had to withdraw. Phillip Kohlschreiber retired during his opening round match. John Isner of the United States and Steve Darcis of Belgium had to retire after winning their openers.
The same was true of Victoria Azarenka in the women's draw after suffering a fall in round one.
The following upsets, however, changed the face of this Wimbledon fortnight. The unexpected losses are the reason so many new quarterfinalists are emerging to take center stage. These upsets are ranked according to their impact on the remaining draw.
It was an unusual match to say the least. Crowds were accustomed to seeing the charismatic Frenchman dominate opponents on grass and advancing to the final stages of the Wimbledon championships.
Moreover, this was a second round encounter against perennial underachiever Ernests Gulbis, ranked No. 39, unseeded at the 2013 Wimbledon tournament.
Tsonga took the opening set 6-3 and seemed to be in cruise mode when the bottom fell out of his game and he lost the next two sets 3-6, 3-6.
When the third set concluded, Tsonga retired citing an problem with a tendon in his left knee, an injury which began prior to Wimbledon.
Once the Frenchman walked away, the door opened wide for Andy Murray, whose aspirations to find his way to another Wimbledon final seemed to get a huge boost as another casualty of Day Three fell by the wayside.
Last year, Angelique Kerber was a semifinalist at the All England Club. But in 2013, the German was sent packing after the proverbial dust settled on Court 2 on the fifth day of action.
Even though Kerber won the opening set, Kanepi, a big serving player with huge groundstrokes, stormed back to win the second set in a tiebreaker. To compound her disappointment, Kerber held match points on her racket but could not close it out.
It was not going to be Kerber’s day.
Kanepi, who was accustomed to playing well on the grass, suffered from Achilles tendon issues which saw her ranking plummet from world No. 15 to world No. 46.
But she had the goods on day five to burst Kerber’s bubble, sending the No. 7 seed out of the tournament.
During the Wimbledon fortnight, unlike many of the other upset winners, Kanepi has capitalized and now finds herself in the quarterfinals.
Kerber, a top ten player, will return home to regroup for the summer hard court season.
The Aussie Bernard Tomic had something to prove. Long touted as the up-and-coming standard-bearer of Australian men’s tennis with the decline of Lleyton Hewitt, Tomic has disappointed fans down-under many times before.
But, now at 20 years of age, he came into Wimbledon with fire and determination.
On day six, Tomic met and defeated the No. 9 seed Frenchman Richard Gasquet in four tense sets, 7-6, 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 in a little under three hours.
During the execution of the match, Tomic did not grow impatient on court. He waited, taking the opportunities afforded him and never let up on Gasquet, who did not lose easily.
While the Frenchman went home, Tomic moved on to the fourth round where he met the No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych. Unfortunately, Tomic would fall to Berdych in four tight sets.
As the seeds were falling one after another, Maria Sharapova could do nothing to stem the tide of upsets. She was swept away as well by Michelle Larcher de Brito in a straight set fiasco 6-3, 6-4.
Sharapova, the No. 3 player in the world, won Wimbledon in 2004, upsetting Serena Williams in the final. She was hoping for a return visit to the title match, but would be forced to wait another year.
Larcher de Brito simply remained aggressive throughout the match, never allowing Sharapova to settle in and find her rhythm.
Confounded when her shots fell short, Sharapova began to try for too much and missed the mark far too often. She admitted after the match that she failed to remain aggressive and match her opponent's intensity.
Coupled with the withdrawal of the No. 2 seed, Victoria Azarenka, Sharapova’s loss left portions of the women’s draw wide open.
When Rafael Nadal lost to Lukas Rosol during the Wimbledon Championships in 2012, he took several months off to heal.
This year, after winning the French Open for a record-breaking eight times, Nadal took the court to face world No. 135 Steve Darcis of Belgium in his opening round match. Nadal had no time for a grass court tune-up tournament.
To say Darcis played the match of his life is a bit of an understatement because Nadal did not go away in the match. Darcis simply beat him during all the biggest points in the match. He won in straight sets 7-6, 7-6, 6-4.
The Belgian did not cave into nerves or Nadal’s stare across the net.
The idea of a Nadal-Federer quarterfinal match faded quickly as the news of the Nadal upset spread throughout the tennis landscape, spilling into the men’s locker room. This was just the beginning of upsets and retirements on the men's side of the draw.
For those still in shock by the Rafael Nadal upset, seeing the seven-time Wimbledon champ Roger Federer go out in the second round was even more stunning.
After reaching the quarterfinals in the last 37 Grand Slams, Roger Federer would be among the wounded and missing at the All England Club in 2013.
Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine upset the mighty Swiss in four very competitive sets, winning 6-7, 7-6, 7-5, 7-6. Again, Federer did not play badly, but Stakhovsky played the big points better, winning when he had to sustain his lead.
Stakhovsky performed out of his depth—there’s no doubt about it. The Ukrainian played lights out serve and volley tennis for four sets.
Federer just could not get the job done and was sent packing on a day when the ripples never stopped disturbing the placid order on the show courts at Wimbledon.
Untold legions of tennis fans gasped, clutching their hearts when the No. 1 player in the world, Serena Williams, lost her fourth round match to No. 23 Sabine Lisicki in three mammoth sets of tennis.
Since losing her opening round match at the 2012 French Open and journeying to Wimbledon to play her first round match, Serena Williams had lost just three matches in a year’s time.
She seemed unbeatable. Losing at this event where she’s a champion five times over is inconceivable to tennis fans around the globe.
But lose she did to German Lisicki who possesses one gigantic game on the grass where she’s triumphed before.
During Lisicki’s fourth round encounter with Williams, she shocked the defending champion by taking the first set. Serena righted the ship in the second set, but could not hold back Lisicki in the third and final set.
The German finds herself in the quarterfinals for the third time in four years, having been unable to compete in 2010. The furthest she’s advanced was the semifinals in 2011. Her game definitely comes alive on the grass.
Her upset of Serena Williams will stand the test of time, not because of the match itself, but because, for 99 percent of all tennis fans and pundits, Serena Williams had already won this tournament.