‘Roger and Out’ Federer shock exit was enough of a headline on its own, however a number of other BIG Seeds and BIG Names tumbled raising a few eyebrows in the process.
Seven players pulled out due to injury (a record for Wimbledon, surpassing the previous high of five in 2012) which would have been significant for any other Grand Slam tournament, except this all happened on one day at Wimbledon. SW19 hasn’t seen such odd goings-on since Isner / Mahut marathon match (the longest in history), which ended just short of 12 hours on court 18. Weird Wednesday, as I dub it, has surpassed that and is probably the strangest day ever at Wimbledon.
To put things into perspective, six former world numbers ones crashed out on 26th June – Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki. Azarenka (knee) was the only one of them who succumbed to injury. The others were either outsmarted by pluckier opponents or didn’t play to their proven potentials. Excluding Wozniacki, they have won an astounding 26 Grand Slam singles titles between them. For such talent to go out on one day is no coincidence and magnifies the bizarreness that occurred on Weird Wednesday.
Steve Darcis Wimbledon experience is that of an emotional rollercoaster, going from nervousness to ecstasy to agony all in the space of 48 hours. The conqueror of Rafa Nadal, Darcis was one of those players who had to pull out due to a shoulder injury before his second round match against Lukasz Kubot.
Last year’s Queens’ Club men’s singles winner Marin Cilic and former Grand Slam finalist Jo-Wilfred Tsonga also failed to complete their respective second round matches and pulled out due to knee problems. They weren’t the only ones, as ironically, the winner of the longest match in history, John Isner, was also forced to withdraw … yes, you’ve guessed it … with a knee injury! Radek Stepanek was next, the Czech Republic star was hampered by a hamstring injury resulting in a second set retirement against Jerzy Janowicz and Kazakhstan representation Yaraoslava Shvedova was confined to the treatment room failing a fitness test on an arm injury.
Ironically, Andy Murray who was injured prior to Wimbledon, survived a potential shock defeat and looked as fit as a fiddle. He now enters round three with the peace of mind that Federer (seed 3), Nadal (seed 5) and Tsonga (seed 6) are OUT! This must be a tremendous relief for him as all three were in his side of the draw. In fact, he should count himself extremely lucky. Barring a huge upset, his route to the final has just been blown wide open – his highest ranked opponent would now potentially be 15! He must take each match at a time and concentrate on playing his best tennis, opportunities as good as this this do not come along very often!
The number of shock defeats and injuries beg the question ‘Why and How?’. Some would-be pundits have put it down to the simplest of things – the Wimbledon 2013 grass. Without a doubt, some players have slipped during match play. But it would very unrealistic to solely blame the grass for any injuries or upsets. Players are humans after all. They can lose rhythm and form in a short space of time. Their performance partly depends on what A-game they bring on the day. Yet to see a number of big names and top seeds tumble in one day to a variety of reasons is simply unheard of. We may not see a day like it ever again at Wimbledon or Grand Slam tennis as a whole. But if there is one thing that we have learnt, it is that fitness and form are vital for elite athletes. They have good days. They have bad days. But ultimately, I guess these things happen. That’s the only way I can sum up day 3 of Wimbledon 2013. Just don’t forget to attach the word ‘weird’ to it!
With a huge thanks to our guest writer Ash for another great article!