Thursday, July 5, 2018

Defending champion out of Wimbledon, adding to a week of chaos

This evening, the commentators spent an inordinate amount of time "discussing" her surname, while Alison Van Uytvanck spent her time confounding--and eventually defeating--Wimbledon defending champion Garbine Muguruza. The Belgian player lost the first set 5-7, but didn't bat an eye about that; she went on to win the next two sets 6-2 and 6-1.

The first two rounds of play has had our heads spinning with the upsets, and Muguruza's wasn't even the first one today. Earlier, 22nd seed and former top 10 player Jo Konta was defeated in straight sets by Dominika Cibulkova. The Slovak player missed out on being seeded and wasn't too happy about it (I can't blame her), but, as Li Na once said: "Anger is stronger than sorrrow, and anger can keep you from collapsing." Hell, yes.

Meanwhile, world number 1 Simona Halep quietly slid into the third round, as did 2016 runner-up Angie Kerber, and 12th seed Alona Ostapenko, who defeated Kirsten Flipkens in under an hour. It's going to get really interesting now (as opposed to just over-the-top dramatic). Several clay court specialists--Elise Mertens, Dasha Kasatkina, Kiki Bertens, Carla Suarez Navarro, Lucie Safarova--are still around, and one wonders how far they can go on the grass.

And--in addition to Halep, Kerber and Ostapenko--there are some other big names who are still around, like seven-time champion Serena Williams--and five-time champion Venus Williams. Also still in the mix are 7th seed Karolina Pliskova and 10th seed Madison Keys. Both Pliskova and Keys have reached major finals before; both, in fact, reached the final of the U.S. Open.

Speaking of Ostapenko--the commentators stuck verbal pins in her throughout the match, doing what commentators do worst: mind-reading. This talk was interspersed with a good dose of sexism about boys and girls and sports. It was not amusing. (Also, an anatomy lesson is badly needed--the heart is a muscle, not the brain). Meanwhile, while the commentators were finding numerous things wrong with Alona, she was wiping Flipkens off the court.

Halep and Cibulkova (who has to first get past Mertens) could meet in the round of 16. If that happens, it could be a thriller. Both players are happy to stay on the court until half past Kuznetsova, so things have the potential to get dicey.

A third-round match I'm looking forward to is the one that will be competed by Julia Goerges and Barbora Strycova. I enjoy watching both of them play.

Next for Serena is Kiki Mladenovic, who's looking good at this tournament. If Serena wins, there's a good chance she'll face Keys in the round of 16.

Some good news: Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova, finally back togeher, won their opening round against Lyudmyla Kichenok and Alla Kudryavtseva. Last year, Mattek-Sands and Safarova were seeking a Career Slam at Wimbledon when Mattek-Sands fell in the second round and sustained a terrible injury. A dislocated kneecap and ruptured patellar ligament caused her to undergo surgery. After a long rehab, she's back to seek another major title with her Czech partner. These two have been through a lot in the past few years.

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