The Wimbledon Championships have hit the halfway point. The first week is done, the second week awaits. Several players have pleasantly surprised while others have disappointed, but among them, which are the biggest examples in both directions? We will start with two disappointing players and then finish with two surprises:
Disappointment: Petra Kvitova
The two-time Wimbledon champion had every reason to think that this tournament would snap into place for her. She won a warm-up tournament in Birmingham, England, and had offered conclusive proof that she had not lost her touch on a grass court. Kvitova had five titles in 2018, more than any other player on the WTA Tour, when she entered Wimbledon. She was the only player on the WTA Tour who had won titles on three different surfaces – hardcourts, clay and grass – this season. With a nasty serve, ferocious groundstrokes, and lots of forward momentum, Kvitova made a great betting choice as the favorite for the women’s title… and then she lost in the first round to Aliaksandra Sasnovich, getting shut out, 6-0, in the third and final set. It’s hard for a favorite to do worse in a tournament, harder for someone who has won grass tournaments in each of the past two seasons but has not then been able to follow up at Wimbledon.
Disappointment: Madison Keys
The annoying part of the third-round loss for Madison Keys is not that she couldn’t hold her serve very much, though that clearly contributed to her loss. The most frustrating part of the loss is not that she lost to a player ranked roughly 100 spots lower, Evgeniya Rodina. The truly galling and unacceptable part of Keys’ loss to Rodina is that her opponent had a visit from the trainer early in the third set and looked like a physically limited and compromised player. It is one thing to lose a match to a player who is clearly better, stronger and more tactically complete. It is another thing to lose to a player who is physically hampered and can’t hit full-velocity serves. That’s the player Rodina was in the third set, and yet it didn’t seem to matter to Keys. It didn’t calm her down or improve her focus. This was a distracted, wayward loss for a player who should know better by now.
Surprise: Belinda Bencic
The young Swiss has battled a continuing series of injuries, which has prevented her from gaining momentum and rhythm within the regular workings of the tour season. Bencic was a former top-10 player with great defensive skills and counterpunching abilities. She is considered a future elite player… as long as she can stay healthy. Her failure to avoid injury has been so stressful and agonizing, but at Wimbledon, she has managed to win three matches and post her best result of the season. She fought off four match points in the second set of her second-round match against Alison Riske. She took advantage of that win by then defeating Carla Suarez Navarro in the third round. This is an incredible breakthrough by her. Few saw this one coming.
Surprise: Julia Goerges
The German is a longtime veteran of the tour, but she made the round of 16 at Wimbledon for the first time at this event. Her third-round win over Barbora Strycova was a long and taxing match which was decided by a 10-8 third set. Goerges used a great return of serve to break Strycova three times in the latter stages of the match before holding serve to seal the victory. This is a landmark moment for her.
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