What a Wacky Week at Wimbledon

Matthew SchiffmanAnalyst IJune 28, 2008

We are now halfway through tennis’ most prestigious event— The Championships at Wimbledon.

Time to review:

Biggest Disappointments:

American men.  This year’s Wimbledon was the worst for American men in the Open Era.

That’s right—was.  That’s past tense, because there are no American men left.  None of them will be appearing in the second week.  

Andy Roddick fell at the hands of Janko Tipsarevic, who was playing brilliantly, in the second round.

Not too bad of a loss, when you consider that Tipsarevic took Federer to five sets Down Under at the Australian Open early on this year.

James Blake also bowed out in the second round, losing to a resurgent Rainer Schuettler in five sets.

Bobby Reynolds was America’s last hope on the men’s side as he was the only player to make it through to the third round.  But there he ran into the big-serving lefty Spaniard Feliciano Lopez and lost in four.

Serbians.  With Novak Djokovic winning the Australian Open and Ana Ivanovic capturing the French, Serbia currently holds the first two major championships of the 2008 season.

If they are to gain a Wimbledon crown, somebody new will have to step up.

Djokovic, who was expected to challenge Federer in the semifinals and possibly end his run of undefeated matches at Wimbledon, lost in three straight sets to Marat Safin in the second round.

Safin, who is far too talented to be ranked as low as he is, played like he did in his old days, but this time doing it on a surface that he’s not comfortable on.  Still, it was Djokovic who had the let down and didn’t provide much of a fight.

On the women’s side, this was Ivanovic’s first tournament that she entered as the world’s No. 1.  The pressure must have gotten to her, as she bowed out early, going down to Jie Zheng in the third round.

Not many people expected Ivanovic to win Wimbledon, but her result was still a huge surprise and major disappointment. 

Biggest Surprises:

Maria Sharapova.  Many people, including many analysts, picked Sharapova as the favorite heading into Wimbledon this year.

She had a great hard court season, winning the Australian Open, and looked poise to capture her second Wimbledon title, but Sharapova added her name to a growing list of top seeds being upset as she lost decisively to Alla Kudryavtseva in the second round.

Bethanie Mattek.  Best known for her over-the-top outfits on court, Mattek has made a name for herself in this tournament.  She’s the only American woman not named Williams left in the draw.  In the third round, Mattek easily disposed of Marion Bartoli, last year’s Wimbledon runner-up.

The only problem now is that she faces one of those Williams, Serena that is, in her next match.

Other notable results:

There is a wide gap in seeded players remaining on the men’s side between the No. 2 seed,Rafael Nadal and the No. 8 seed Richard Gasquet.  I already mentioned Djokovic, the three-seed; and Roddick, the six-seed.  But the four, five, and seven seeds are all gone as well.  

Grass is Nikolay Davydenko’s weakest surface and considering that he lost in the third round of the French Open, it’s not a huge surprise that the Russian counter-puncher made an early exit.  Still, a straight-set loss in the first round is pretty bad for a No. 4 seed.

David Ferrer, the No. 5 seed, didn’t get the result he was looking for, but his loss is much more excusable.  The Spaniard who loves to grind and wear opponents down with his fitness was simply out-hit by tall, big-serving Mario Ancic in a tough fought four-set match.

The No. 7 seed, David Nalbandian, is perhaps the most disappointing player on the ATP this year.

After ending the 2007 season in stellar fashion, recording wins over Nadal, Djokovic, and Roger Federer, Nalbandian has failed to produce good tennis this year.  Wimbledon was no exception as the Argentine went out in the first round in straight sets.

Other than the upsets I already discussed, there haven’t been many major developments on the women’s side.  With Sharapova and Ivanovic out, and Justine Henin gone from tennis, the draw looks to greatly favor the Williams sisters to meet in another major championship final.

As for the top two male tennis players, it’s been business as usual.

Federer seems unbothered by all his critics and looks to be in his comfort zone on the grass once again as he’s rolled through his first three matches without dropping a set.

All the while, Nadal is getting better and better on the grass and has dropped just one set in his three matches.

If all goes as expected over the next week, it’s quite possible that we’ll be viewing two very familiar grand slam finals matches on both the men’s and women’s sides; the Williams sisters staring at each other from across the net yet again, and Federer and Nadal seeing déjà vu once more.