And the unsettling of Wimbledon continues, as the Rufuses of both the men’s and women’s draw end up in the jaws of some unexpected rivals.
There was Serena’s loss to Alize Cornet on Saturday, followed by her world weary comment that” these girls, when they play me, they play as if they’re on the ATP Tour, and then they play other girls completely different. It’s never easy to be in my shoes”. (Tennis.com) Cornet countered this remark by protesting that she didn’t even have to play her best to beat her.
Today was a bit different from Serena’s flop of a third rounder on Saturday. We saw Sharapova and Nadal – oft heraleded as the two greatest fighters of the game – fall to players who were willing to do anything it took to leave the court triumphant. In Angelique Kerber’s case, it was a grounded determination to go with her counterpunching, crouching playing style. “Believe in your game,” Kerber coached herself (via NYTimes). Anyone who can let five match points slip through her racket in the third set and still beat Maria Sharpaova has more than belief boiling up inside. That takes pure guts.
A little arrogance doesn’t hurt, either, if that’s how you choose to describe 19 year-old (and 144th ranked) Nick Kyrgios star-making four set victory over Rafael Nadal today. How wild to think that the last time a teenager pulled off such a victory at a Major, the teenager in question was Rafa, himself, and Federer was his victim. Whatever you want to call it – arrogance, verve, “panache” or plain old grass court agression – it was an absolutely thrilling display of youth over experience (and hey, it’s not like Rafa’s old.) I knew we were in for something different early on, which saw a bouncing, fist pumping, joyful and yes, cheeky, Kyrigos going for his shots – including that gorgeous, loose-limbed serve and a forward facing tweener for the win! I was reminded of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s jaw dropping whooping of Rafa in the 2008 Australian Open.
“You’ve got to believe you can win the match from the start, and I definitely believe that,”Kyrgios said after the match. Belief won big on Centre Court today. As did the fans. Gosh, what I would have given to be a pigeon in the stands today! I’m sure Rufus would have been distracted. . .
Serena, Serena. I’m a little worried about her. IT’s more than just the losses – there’s something just “off” about her lately. Teh fact that she retired from her doubles match today only three games in, in tears and feeling faint, seemed pretty representative of a certain listlessness that’s surrounded her this tournament. Whether it’s truly a viral issue (scary), a lack of confidence or perhaps an “off court distraction” pertaining to her relationship status (anyone else find it odd that her coach/boyfriend Patrick Mouratoglou, claimed after the doubles today that he “had no idea what was ailing Serena, and added that he had not seen her for two days before she took the court.” (NYTimes) I’m feeling Serena may be stuck in one of her darker periods, and we will just need to wait and see where she gets the inspiration to shine again.
So the men’s quarterfinals are set, and we have an entertaining mix of young talent and veterans and even a few inbetween. Nole vs. Cilic, Murray vs. Dimitrov (oh, should I cheer for Amelie or Baby Fed? I’m torn), Wawrinka vs. Federer in an intriguing Swiss battle, and Raonic vs. Kyrgios in a big serving special.
On the ladies’ side, we still have a couple really entertaining quarterfinals to look forward to: Bouchard vs. Kerber and Halep vs. Lisicki, dark horse Safarova meets Kvitova in an all Czech semi (the Czech ladies are really doing great this tournament!)
Anyone care to predict an upset? Rufus?