On the 10th anniversary of his first Wimbledon title in 2003 (when he defeated Philippoussis in the final), defending champion Roger Federer lost in R2 to Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky in four sets at the 2013 Wimbledon Championships.
Black Wednesday was one of the craziest days in Wimbledon history, which saw Fed, the defending champion and 7-time winner of the tournament overall, losing to ATP troll Sergiy Stakhovsky in 4 sets. I’d watched the first 2/3 of that match and it seemed Fed was playing sluggishly. I’d mistakenly assumed he would pick up his level, while Stakhs would be unable to maintain the high level of play he was showing. That turned out to be a mistaken assumption.
While Rafa’s early R1 exit was very surprising, Fed’s early exit at the hands of Stakhs in R2 was certainly more shocking. At RG this year, Fed had reached his 36th consecutive QF at a Slam. His consistency alongside his excellence has always been an underrated part of his legacy. That record is now broken. Black Wednesday saw seven former world no. 1s bow out of the tournament (Federer, Hewitt, Azarenka, Sharapova, Ivanovic, Jankovic and Wozniacki). In addition to those losses, many of the potential contenders also met unfortunately anti-climactic ends at Wimbledon (Rafa-conqueror Darcis, Tsonga, Cilic and Isner were all forced to withdraw or retire from their matches due to injury).
To recap, the early exits of Fed, Rafa, Tsonga and Cilic mean that Almagro is now the highest ranked contender still alive in Muzz’s half of the draw (Muzz cruised easily to a R2 win over Lu). The “joke” of a draw that was Djokovic’s half has suddenly turned out to be the tougher half.
Given the crazy events on Wednesday (along with the numerous instances of players slipping on the grass), DelPo’s R2 match against Levine on Center Court yet again had the potential to go the wrong way.
Thankfully, it did not. Gary Lineker astutely commented on the final DelPo-Levine result:[tweet https://twitter.com/GaryLineker/status/350257688501960705 align=’center’]
First off, it was slightly strange that DelPo’s match was scheduled on Center. If I were the scheduler, I’d probably have given Center Court to the R2 Berdych-Brands match, looking ahead to the potential R3 DelP0-Dimitrov for Center. In any case, that is a negligible matter.
DelPo defeated Levine in straight sets, 6-2 7-6(7) 6-3. While the straight sets result is encouraging, DelPo endured his fair share of struggles en route to this victory.
DelPo played patiently in the 1st set and took advantage of Levine’s early nerves to break the Canadian’s opening service game. Courtesy of a DF from Levine, DelPo would go up a double break, 3*-0. However, he faced trouble when serving for the 1st set. Levine gained 2 BPs, which DelPo had to save with strong serves. Like the players yesterday, DelPo struggled with his movement on the grass, as he slipped and lost his footing during the points. Thankfully, he did not fall or incur injury. DelPo saved the 2 BPs and then leaned in for a beautifully angled BH to reach SP, which he took to take a 6-2 lead.
However, DelPo had a 2nd set walkabout, in which he played a couple of loose points to get broken. Levine, to his credit, was playing more confidently — although Levine ended up giving away too many points off DFs, he readjusted his serves and was better able to maintain his momentum during the rallies. In the 2nd set, DelPo didn’t take advantage of his chances to gain the advantage off his returns.
After DelPo shanked a FH to miss a BP chance, he yelled at himself in front of the esteemed Wimbledon crowd (Duchess Camilla was in attendance today). He would earn another BP when Levine was serving for the 2nd set — Levine played an impressive point to save it and the crowd was cheerily applauding afterwards. Still, DelPo would eventually break to save the 2nd set. Despite this change of fortune, he wasn’t able to quite take command of the ensuing TB. DelPo and Levine constantly exchanged mini-breaks until the big man finally hit an impressive passing shot winner to take the 2nd set 7-6(7). He let out a huge roar as the shot sailed past Levine.
Perhaps that TB stoked his fire again, but DelPo had a relatively easier time closing out the match in the 3rd set. He went up a break early in the 3rd set and served an ace on MP to advance to R3.
Following his win, DelPo bowed to the Royal Box. He looked deliciously awkward and it was lovely. I’m sure Duchess Camilla appreciated it!:
In R3, DelPo will face the winner of Dimitrov-Zemlja (the two are waiting out a rain delay — they were on serve in the 5th set). Dimitrov is the much-hyped prospect at Wimbledon this year and many commentators are fancying his prospects in the draw. Zemlja has been playing steadily and he was a tough out for DelPo when they played the 2012 Vienna final. DelPo will have to be more consistent in his next match, but he seems to be adjusting steadily to the surface without the slips and falls that other players had to endure.