Manic Monday is the craziest day in tennis, the closest the sport comes to March Madness. Its existence is polarizing, but the entertainment value can’t be debated: all round of 16 matches, gentlemen and ladies, played on the same day. Before looking ahead, it’s worth reviewing the implications of the first week:
Not only has his draw been as easy been as predicted in this space before the tournament. He dropped a third set tiebreaker in the third round to Sam Groth, but the result was never in doubt, and took less than 2.5 hours despite that extra set. In playing one-dimensional players like Groth and Sam Querrey, the only thing that’s made the legend sweat thus far is the historic heat wave in London. While Tomas Berdych could pose a challenge in the quarterfinals, it would be an absolute stunner to not see Federer playing in the semifinals.
Her comeback over Heather Watson in the third round will only add to her extensive legacy. In winning a match with all the pressure on her shoulders, she did what Petra Kvitova could not, and because of that, now her biggest threat is out of the tournament. Venus Williams/Vika Azarenka/Maria Sharapova would be an incredibly tough path to the final for any other player, but Serena owns Azarenka and Sharapova due to matchup advantages. The only two players left who pose a serious threat to the completion of Serena Slam No. 2 are Venus and another American…
Although her road to Manic Monday has been less than smooth, most of her second week obstacles have already bowed out. She could have met Kvitova in the quarters, then either Simona Halep or Sabine Lisicki in the semis. Instead, all got knocked out and Keys has a legitimate shot at reaching a Wimbledon final at just 20, so long as the pressure of an easier draw doesn’t seep into her performance.
The world No. 1 had a tough draw coming in, yet said draw did not materialize. Philipp Kohlschreiber capitulated at the end of sets in what was otherwise a close match. Then, at almost 34 years old, Jarkko Nieminen had to come back two days after winning 11-9 in the fifth. Djokovic followed those by facing Bernie Tomic, a good grass player and theoretically tricky opponent, except Tomic couldn’t have looked more disinterested in playing a competitive match. Djokovic should be fine until the semis, where a rematch of the Roland Garros final against Stan Wawrinka could await him.
“Oh, Petra,” muttered many a tennis fan as her footwork and shots fell apart so badly that she blew a set and a break lead over Jelena Jankovic. A former world No. 1, Jankovic is no pushover, but she’s not strong on grass (both her first and second matches went three sets) and is past her prime. This is the first time since 2009 that Kvitova didn’t reach the quarters at SW19 and she hasn’t made a quarterfinal outside of Wimbledon since the 2012 French Open, which means it might be another full year before she contends at another major.
Not winning a third Wimbledon this year is not a blemish on his career. He could be finished winning majors and still be a top-three player of all-time (at worst). However, his second round loss to Dustin Brown was the worst of his four upsets in London. In 2012 and 2013, he wasn’t physically able to contend on the grass, and last year, Nick Kyrgios simply took the match off of Nadal’s racquet. While Brown played well with his serve and volley style, mixing in well-executed dropshots, this was a riddle that the Rafa of the past would have solved. Expectations were low for him, but to not carry over momentum from winning in Stuttgart seems to been a shock for Nadal and his camp. His game is still there, he just can’t seem to consistently find it.
The Next Generation
On the men’s side, the Kei Nishikori/Milos Raonic/Grigor Dimitrov trio continues to disappoint, with a combined zero major semifinals and zero Masters 1000 finals in 2015. For the women, Genie Bouchard’s free fall has been well-documented and Halep is gaining a knack for playing her best outside of the Grand Slams, a reputation which has sullied the careers of Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic, among others.