Wimbledon 2011: The Biggest Names That Stumbled at This Year's Championships

JA AllenSenior Writer IJune 28, 2011

Wimbledon 2011: The Biggest Names That Stumbled at This Year's Championships

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    It was an exciting first week at the All England Club as Wimbledon 2011 got underway.

    Many rain interruptions postponed play, necessitating the closure of the roof over Centre Court almost daily to allow action to continue on the main court.

    Throughout their careers, players work diligently to raise their respective rankings. The advantage, of course, is that the higher your ranking, the higher your seeding in the majors. That means in the early rounds you meet lower ranked players, giving you the best opportunity to advance.

    The parity in professional tennis, however, offers no guarantees for any player. The No. 90 ranked player can rise up and strike down the No. 15 player on any given day. That became fairly obvious during the first week of the 2011 Wimbledon Championships as many of top 20 seeds fell by the wayside.

    Twelve of the women's top 20 fell in the first week while nine were sent packing on the men's side. Two of the women's top five lost in week one, while one of the top five lost fell in the men's draw.

    Upsets are a natural part of the game. Even the best fail to play their best periodically. Grass is a very short season and many of the top seeds do not negotiate the lawns well.

    The following is a list of the "big guns" who stumbled and fell at the 2011 Wimbledon Championships in week one.

Florian Mayer: No. 20 Seed (Germany)

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    German Florian Mayer got off to a great start in the second round at the All England Club, breaking Xavier Malisse’s serve twice in the opening set.

    Mayer looked like he would make quick work of the Belgian, allowing him only one game in the opener.

    However, Malisse came to life playing his normal grass court game, confounding Mayer for the rest of the match.

    Malisse won the contest 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, sending Mayer out of the tournament.

    Mayer could not find any answers to the effective forehands Malisse sent his way. With Malisse winning an impressive 82 percent of his first serve points, Mayer could make little inroad on the Belgian’s serve.

    Malisse broke Mayer five times over the course of four sets. That was too much to overcome for Mayer, who found himself bounced in round two.

Ana Ivanovic: No. 18 Seed (Serbai)

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    When Ana Ivanovic began play at the 2011 Wimbledon Championships, she great results in the early rounds. In the first round the Serb dispatched Melanie Oudin of the United States 6-0, 6-1.

    Ivanovic followed that win by defeating Eleni Daniilidou of Germany 6-3, 6-0 in round two.

    However, that was the end of the great form Ivanovic would display at Wimbledon.

    In round three, all of the Serb's winning instincts disappeared as she floundered against a very talented Czech, Petra Cetkovska.

    Ivanovic could no longer compete well enough to win match number three. She lost to Cetkovska 6-2, 7-6.

    Wimbledon 2011 was now just another sad chapter in Ivanovic’s sliding tennis fortunes.

Kaia Kanepi: No. 17 Seed (Estonia)

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    In perhaps the biggest upset on Day One at the All England Club, Kaia Kanepi, a quarterfinalist from Wimbledon 2010, lost her opening round match to unseeded Sara Errani 6-1, 6-4.

    It was an old-fashioned beat down of the No. 17 seed.

    Errani brought down Kanepi, barely breaking a sweat as the Estonian could only manage to win five games on the day.

    It was their third career meeting and Errani exacted revenge for her loss to Kanepi at Palermo last year.

    Ranked No. 34, Errani moved on to the second round while the No. 17 seed was evicted from the women’s draw.

    However, Errani would not survive her second round encounter with Daniela Hantuchova.

Nicolas Almagro: No. 16 Seed (Spain)

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    Nicolas Almagro, the No. 16 seed, won the opening set in his match against No. 18 seed Mikhail Youzhny as the two men battled for control during their third round contest.

    It was not quite an afterthought, the final match on a very long Saturday as tournament officials struggled to bring the schedule up to date. But few seemed to feel that their match was an important punctuation to the day. Everyone except Mikhail Youzhny and Nicolas Almagro seemed to pass the contest by.

    For the two combatants nothing else mattered except winning the right to advance one more step into the tournament for the chance to face Roger Federer, the No. 3 seed, in the round of 16.

    The level of play was very high from the outset. Youzhny and Almagro battled for four sets before the No. 18 seed Youzhny came away with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 win.

    After being broken in the opening set, the Russian did not allow another break of his serve. Youzhny clamped down hard on the match and never relinquished his mental edge.

    In the first set, it did not look like Youzhny had the right stuff, but he quickly reversed that impression as the match wore on. As Almagro’s frustration grew, the Youzhny's grip grew tighter.

    After two hours and 43 minutes, Youzhny claimed victory. His reward was a match against six-time Wimbledon Champion Roger Federer in the fourth round.

Julia Goerges: No. 16 Seed (Germany)

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    German Julia Goerges lost in a three-set battle with tiny Slovak Dominika Cibulkova in their third round contest at the All England Club.

    Goerges, seeded No. 16, lost 6-4,1-6, 6-3 in a roller coaster ride on court three.

    Goerges' ranking has been on the upswing as she continued to do well at the majors this year. The German reached the third round at both the Australian Open and the French Open earlier this year.

    Goerges also advanced to the third round at Wimbledon for the first time in her career. The 22-year-old seems to have a great deal of promise. Her results the past year have caused her ranking to rise into the top 20.

    Goerges, who made a quick work of Mathilde Johansson in her second round match, could not put away the tiny Cibulkova.

    Until her match with Cibulkova, Goerges had done well this season, with a 24-12 record and one WTA title in 2011.

    But the German is out of Wimbledon 2011 and is now, hopefully, preparing for the American hard court season.

Jelena Jankovic: No. 15 Seed (Serbia)

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    Former World No. 1 Jelena Jankovic continues to sink lower in the women’s rankings.

    While grass has never been a surface where the Serb did well, she hoped to at least make it to the second week.

    However, the tennis gods had a different fate in mind for Jankovic, casting her against Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain in the first round.

    Sanchez had beaten Jankovic in two of their previous three contests coming into their first round match.

    The last time the two met was in Rome, and Martinez-Sanchez won the match 7-6, 7-5.

    During their first round encounter at Wimbledon 2011, Martinez Sanchez triumphed again, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.

    It looked as though it was going to be Jankovic’s day when the Serb took the first set. But that did nothing to discourage the Spaniard as she fought back to win the next two in what was a two hours and 23 minute match.

    Jankovic’s stay in London was very short, indeed.

Gilles Simon: No. 15 Seed (France)

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    The Frenchman Gilles Simon met Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro in the third round.

    Simon, the No. 15 seed, played a great match but it was not enough to overcome the power and precision of the No. 24 seed as Del Potro prevailed 7-6, 7-6, 7-5.

    The win allowed del Potro to advance to the fourth round.

    The first set came down to a tiebreak, which del Potro finally won 10-8. But there was no break in the tension of the match.

    Simon continued to pressure del Potro, finally securing a break of serve in the second set. Right after that, the rain came and the match was postponed until the following day.

    The rain delay must have been the deciding factor because when the two came back on court, Del Potro broke right back.

    The second set was also settled in a tiebreak which del Potro took again, this time at 7-5.

    In the third set, the two stayed on serve until 5-5. It appeared that it might go to another tie break when Del Potro managed to secure another break, allowing him to serve out the match.

    Del Potro moved on to the fourth round while Simon must get ready for another hard court season to capitalize on his improved game.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: No. 14 Seed (Russia)

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    Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is a 19-year-old Russian who reached her highest ranking in January of this year.

    She currently sits at No. 14 in the WTA.

    The Russian made some noise in Monterrey, winning the tournament for the second consecutive year. She also reached her first ever slam quarterfinal at the French Open. 

    Pavlyuchenkova entered this year's Wimbledon as the No. 14 seed.

    She defeated Lesia Tsurenko of the Ukraine in the first round but was upset by countrywoman Nadia Petrova in the second round.

    Petrova is a player who has had some unexpected results at Wimbledon 2011.

    The Russian Petrova has fallen in the rankings in recent months but her fourth round appearance at the All England Club was impressive, especially since she had to defeat Pavlyuchenkova to get there.

Stanislas Wawrinka: No. 14 Seed (Switzerland)

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    Although Stanislas Wawrinka lasted longer in 2011 than he did the previous year (when he went out in the first round), going out in the second round was not what the Swiss had in mind this year. 

    Having made it to the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2008 and 2009, Wawrinka had hoped to go deeper in the draw in 2011.

    Wawrinka’s campaign came to an end early on the third day when Wawrinka fell victim to “lucky loser” Simone Bolelli.

    Wawrinka became one of the earlist top 20 seeds to be evicted from the men's draw.

    World No. 116 Bolelli won 7-6, 3-6, 7-6. He stayed alive to fight another day but Wawrinka was sent packing.

Agnieszka Radwanska: No. 13 Seed (Poland)

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    World No. 81, Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic, fought back from one set down to beat No. 13 seed Agnieszka Radwanska 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 on Centre Court in the second round.

    Clearly, Radwanska did not hit the ball quite as effectively as she did in the first set when she converted four break points and outgunned Cetkovska 6-3.

    The 22-year-old Radwanska, who is a two-time quarterfinalist at the All England Club, looked very dominating early on. Her big serve began to give her an edge.

    However, after nearly one hour and 33 minutes of play, Cetkovska fought back and started to wear down Radwanska.

    Having come back for a great win, Cetkovska moved on and eventually defeated No. 18 seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia in the next round.

Viktor Troicki: No. 13 Seed (Serbia)

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    The second highest ranked player from Serbia did not find the lawns of the All England Club very appealing during the second round.

    No. 13 Troicki was the victim of Yen-Hsun Lu in straight sets out on Court 18.

    Lu was the player from Chinese Taipei who knocked Andy Roddick out in the fourth round of last year's tournament.

    Lu certainly had no trouble with Troicki as the Serb crashed while the man from Taipei moved into third round in just over two hours.

    Lu managed to take a tight first set in a tiebreak.

    Troicki could not find his serve, suffering with a low first serve percentage. Lu also hurt the Serb with his volleying, as he compiled a perfect 10 for 10 on points at the net.

    Lu needed just one break in each of the last two sets to finish off the match. The man from Chinese Taipei won 7-6, 6-4, 6-4.

    Troicki's stay at Wimbledon was over.

Svetlana Kuznetsova: No. 12 Seed (Russia)

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    In the opening set, Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova looked like the winner of two slams as she met No. 19 seed Yanina Wickmayer on Court 12.

    Kuznetsova broke out to a 4-2 lead, maintaining her edge throughout the opening set. The Russian stumbled when serving for the set, but broke right back to secure it.

    In the next set, it was Wickmayer who broke early and then held on to her advantage to win the second set. The match now stood at one set a piece.

    The true war broke out in the third set in a highly entertaining last act on Court 12. The two engaged in a thrilling slugfest from the very first point until Wickmayer finished sprawled on the turf as she celebrated a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.

    The quality of the match was reflected in the numbers. The two combatants combined for 69 winners and only 38 errors.

    It was one of those matches that no one deserved to lose.

Jurgen Melzer: No. 11 Seed (Austria)

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    It was wonderful to see world No. 42 Xavier Malisse playing some really magnificent tennis during the first week at Wimbledon.

    Another one of his casualties was No. 11 seed Jurgen Melzer. Malisse defeated the Austrian 7-6, 6-3, 6-0, on Saturday to advance to the round of 16.

    In his match against Melzer, Malisse won a highly competitive first-set tiebreaker. After grabbing the first set, the Malisse grew progressively stronger throughout the match.

    Malisse bageled Melzer in the third set, winning 100 percent of the points on his first serve. There was little Melzer could do under the barrage of winners Malisse threw his way.

    In addition, Malisse served very well throughout the match, winning 82 percent of points on his first serve.

    Malisse also broke Melzer’s serve six times in three sets.

    It was not a good day at the office for the No. 11 seed, as Melzer was sent packing.

    Malisse, the 2002 Wimbledon semifinalist, eventually lost in fourth round to 18-year-old Australian qualifier Bernard Tomic, who also upset No. 5 seed Robin Soderling, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5.

Andrea Petkovic: No. 11 Seed (Germany)

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    Some days it just does not pay to get out of bed.

    Andrea Petkovic sat close to the top ten in women’s tennis. After offering so much promise, it seemed a shame to come up so short 4-6, 6-7 (2).

    Petkovic fell to an unseeded player, Ksenia Pervak, at this year's Wimbledon during a match that should have sent Petkovic into the fourth round.

    The popular German, known as "Petko" to her fans, has been celebrated because of her post-victory dance on the tennis court.

    Having moved up the ladder to the No. 11 spot, Wimbledon 2011 seemed to be tournament where all the elements of her game should come together, allowing the German to advance deep into the draw. 

    However, Pervak outplayed Petkovic from the back of the court.

    Unforced errors doomed the German in the early going, allowing the No. 89 ranked Pervak to get an early break in the opening set of their match on Court 14. Petkovic could never break back.

    The German battled mightily. In the second set, after falling behind, Petkovic fought back. She leveled the second set, sending it to a tiebreak.

    But Petkovic finished her day by playing a poor tiebreak to lose the match. Her error count on the day outnumbered her winners. Nothing in her game seemed to make a difference.

    While Pervak goes ahead into the fourth round, Petkovic is finished in women’s singles at the All England Club and must wait for another chance to shine.

Samantha Stosur: No. 10 Seed (Australia)

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    Unfortunately for No. 10 seed Samantha Stosur, her outcome at Wimbledon 2011 was not indicative of her talent and certainly was not desired.

    Never really at home on the Wimbledon grass, the Australian crashed out in the first round to Melinda Czink of Hungary, who came to Wimbledon with a protected ranking of 262.

    Stosur much prefers the clay, allowing her to build momentum on the slow, often high-bouncing balls.

    With her wicked kick serve, Stosur could maximize the time after her serve to produce a winner with her heavy top-spin forehand.

    Grass gave Stosur little momentum or time to build her game, and the Aussie immediately fell behind a break to Czink. Stosur seemed to struggle with Czink’s left-handed game.

    The Aussie never found her range or her footing. It was all over in about an hour as Stosur lost 3-6, 0-6.

    2011 marked Stosur's second consecutive first round exit at Wimbledon.

Gael Monfils: No. 9 Seed (France)

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    Frenchman Gael Monfils cannot do well at Wimbledon. The grass has never appealed to the No. 9 seed.

    It would seem to be a perfect fit for the talented and athletic Frenchman. But apparently, Monfils has an allergy that prevents him from staying on the grass more than five days.

    This year, the enigmatic Frenchman was summarily dismissed from the grounds of the All England Club before the second week for the fifth time.

    Monfils lost his third-round contest to Lukasz Kubot of Poland, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3

    The No. 9 seed, who has never advanced beyond the third round at Wimbledon since his first appearance in 2005, left the playing field in the third round again.

    Monfils' match against Kubot was delayed overnight after a rain interruption.

    It appeared momentarily that Monfils could turn things around but the Frenchman’s game fell apart after he lost the third set 6-3. Kubot held on to take the match in four sets, and the qualifier continued on to the fourth round.

    Kubot played Feliciano Lopez in the fourth round on Monday, in an exciting five-set match which Kubot lost in the fifth and final set.

Andy Roddick: No. 8 Seed (United States)

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    In a stunning upset, Feliciano Lopez upended three-time Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick 7-6, 7-6, 6-4.

    Prior to this match, Lopez had faced Roddick seven times. The Spaniard came away empty each time.

    No one expected Lopez, ranked No. 44 in the world, to defeat Roddick.

    But Lopez had 57 winners and 7 unforced errors during the match. His play was exceptionally good.

    Roddick did not play a bad match, tallying 40 winners and 16 unforced errors, but Lopez played a better one and came away with the win.

    The grass helped the Spaniard’s big serve and propelled him into the round of 16 on Monday.

    Roddick, who missed most of the clay court season, was too rusty to handle the game that Lopez threw at him in the third round.

    In order to win at this level, you have do the work and clearly, Roddick had not done enough hard work to get through to the fourth round.

    Lopez had an excellent chance to advance to the quarterfinals, as he faced qualifier Lukas Kubot of Poland.

    Although he got off to a slow start, Lopez did overcome Kubot to win the match.

    He will face Andy Murray in the quarterfinals.

Francesca Schiavone: No. 6 Seed (Italy)

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    Upsets were in order on Day 6 at the All England Club. Unseeded Tamira Paszek refused to give in to No. 6 seed Francesca Schiavone.

    The pair for three hours and 41 minutes before Paszek prevailed 3-6, 6-4, 11-9.

    The lengthy matched stretched over two days when the rain came again to cancel action on Day 5. When tournament officials suspended play, Schiavone and Paszek had each won one set.

    When the two players returned to Court 12 on Saturday, the fans were treated to an all out shot-making feast as the two battled until Paszek took the final set 11-9.

    Paszek last reached the fourth round at the All England Club in 2007.

    She now has a real opportunity to go one step further, as she now faces another unseeded player, Ksenia Pervak.

    For Schiavone, Wimbledon 2011 is over, but she played some great matches and her undying competitive spirit kept the action intense until the last ball was struck.

Robin Soderling: No. 5 Seed (Sweden)

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    It was fitting that the 18-year-old from Australia should defeat the man who dismissed Lleyton Hewitt––the man who exemplified tennis “Down Under” for the past decade.

    Bernard Tomic defeated Robin Soderling in the third round of the Wimbledon Championships after the Swede took out Hewitt in five tough sets in round two.

    Soderling, the No. 5 seed, seemed to have nothing left as Tomic totally dominated him 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 in one hour and 52 minutes.

    Australia potentially has a new top player on the men's side. Tomic has gone on to reach the quarterfinals, where he will face the No. 2 player in the world, Novak Djokovic.

    Soderling, who never quite seemed himself during this Wimbledon tournament, will return to Sweden to work out the kinks in his game. 

Li Na: No. 3 Seed (China)

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    On Thursday of week one in a second round match, wild card entry Sabine Lisicki of Germany upset the No. 3 seed and French Open champion Li Na in a thrilling, hard-fought contest on Centre Court. 

    It was a shocker for all assembled.

    The German with the big serve took out Li 3-6, 6-4, 8-6 in two hours and 11 minutes. The outcome of the match was in doubt until the last ball was struck.

    Li held match point twice, the first time at 5-3 in the third set.

    Li could only watch in disbelief as Lisicki came back from the brink, blasting four first serve winners, two of them untouchable aces.

    The final blow came as Li served for the match at 5-4, only to disintegrate with four unforced errors as she tried for lines rather than playing it safe.

    Li, who was one of the favorites to win Wimbledon 2011, was unceremoniously sent home after three days.

Vera Zvonareva: No. 2 Seed (Russia)

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    All was not well with the No. 2 seed Vera Zvonareva as she faced Tsvetana Pironkova, the No. 32 seed from Bulgaria.

    At Wimbledon in 2010, Zvonareva was a finalist, losing the championship match to Serena Williams.

    But on Friday of week one, the No. 2 seed fell hard to Pironkova 6-2, 6-3. Remarkably, Zvonareva had defeated Pironkova in the semi-finals last year.

    The No. 2 seed threw everything she could at Pironkova but to no avail.

    Pironkova simply absorbed the punches and threw them back with emphasis.

    Zvonareva and her injured foot limped quietly out of this year’s Wimbledon, and her No. 3 ranking is now in serious jeopardy.


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