Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Two former champions exit Wimbledon, and I'm not feeling so good myself

I missed some of the first set of Petra Kvitova's first round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, but settled in for the rest of it. I was alarmed to see Petra breathing hard, obviously laboring under the heat, and periodically bending over in pain or discomfort. This is how we expect to see her in Flushing Meadows, but not in London.

She lost in three sets (0-6 in the third), and said afterwards that it was a case of nerves--that she wanted it too badly, her feet were heavy, her hand didn't work, etc. I believe her, but I have to wonder whether those nerves created what were obvious physical symptoms. It doesn't take much for that to happen.

On the other side of the net, things were quite different. Sasnovich played like--well, she played like Kvitova. Petra had a bit of a taste of what it's like for her opponents when she's firing on all cylinders. This happens so often in pro women's tennis: An elite player is off in some way, and this provides a sometimes super-human boost for a talented opponent.

I thought this was Petra's tournament--that she was going to add a third Venus Rosewater Dish to her collection, and I'm still stunned by what happened. It will probably take me the full two weeks to get over it.

But that wasn't all. Vitalia Diatchenko, qualifier from Russia, handed former champion Maria Sharapova her fourth first-round loss at a major, defeating her 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 in a match that lasted over three hours.

Those two losses were such big news, it would be easy to overlook a couple of other big results from today. 6th seed Caroline Garcia also went out, to Belinda Bencic. The other seeded player (30) to lose today was Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, but who can be surprised by that?

Defending champion Garbine Muguruza advanced to the second round, as did world number 1 Simona Halep, former runner-up Angie Kerber, Alona Ostapenko, and British hope Jo Konta.

No comments: