what a bizaare wimbledon it has been so far.
first, rafa was bundled out in straights sets during the opening day. yup, he lost to steve darcis, a journeyman who barely wins any match in any slams. i didn't really have high expectations for rafa in this wimbledon campaign. like his camp, i'm already happy that he won his 8th roland garros title. with the recurring knee problem, bending for low balls in wimbledon's courts would be a tremendous challenge. during his past tourneys, rafa was not too confident in early rounds and opted for safe shots and oftentimes retreated to defensive style. he of course could not afford to do that in the grasscourts of the premier tournament of this sport.
second, maria sharapova lost in the 2nd round to another screamer in larcher de brito. i thought that maria would be able to ride with the momentum after reaching the finals of roland garros. she loves the grass and normally plays well in wimbledon. but as the results showed, she was mowed down by her unforced errors that made her opponent more comfortable.
third, there were a lot of withdrawals and retirements even before the third round commenced. victoria azarenka, a semifinalist last year, had to withdraw from the tournament after an injury sustained in her first round match. jo-wilfried tsonga, john isner and marin cilic also had to withdraw. darcis, rafa's conqueror, also didn't play his second round match.
fourth, a lot of big names lost in early in this tournament. six out of the top ten seeds in the women's singles went out before the 4th round. azarenka, sharapova, sara errani, angelique kerber (semifinalist last year), caroline wozniacki and maria kirilenko did not reach the third round. 7 former world number 1s also went on the first wednesday. this included sharapova, azarenka, lleyton hewitt, ana ivanovic, jelena jankovic, wozniacki and my pick for the trophy (if and when nadal loses early), roger federer.
and finally, my biggest disappointment... roger federer losing in the 2nd round to sergiy stakhovsky (who subsequently lost in the next round). while i'd pick rafa over roger anyday, roger is of course the greatest of all time. he's got a tremendous record of reaching the most consecutive quarterfinals at all slams and he's the defending champion so i thought that he should at least reach the qf. but he lost to a steady player in 4 sets.
now that they're on no-play sunday, the tournament is becoming even more wide open. of course you still have serena williams, who plays sabine lisicki in the 4th round and novak djokovic, who plays tommy haas in the round of 16. andy murray is still alive in the bottom half of the draw and i really do hope that he takes the title this year. but with the early losses of bigger names, many players who are off the radar have the rare chance to go deeper in the tournament. laura robson or kaia kanepi will meet the winner of williams - lisicki match in the quarters. waiting in the wings would be agnieszka radwanska - tsvetana pironkova and roberta vinci - li na. in the bottom half, obscure names like monica puig and karin knapp play sloane stephens and marion bartoli, respectively. the winner from this quarter will play any of the 4 players left in the bottom quarter: petra kvitova - carla suarez navarro, kristen flipkens - flavia penetta.
on the men's side, the winner between djokovic and haas will play either tomas berdych or bernard tomic. emerging on this side will be a semifinalist between david ferrer - ivan dodig and andreas seppi - juan martin del potro. in the bottom half of the draw, more non-household names have the chance to reach at least the semis. the third quarter features lukasz kubot - adrian mannarino and jerzy janowicz - jurgen melzer, while bottom quarter has fernando verdasco - kenny de schapper and mikhail youzhny - andy murray.
it should be murray for the title. no question. serena is in fine form and could be the champ but i would really love to see another girl lift the dish this year. li na winning the trophy or kvitova winning her 2nd crown would make for a good story. but my choice would be aga radwanska, who plays well on grass and is fun to watch.