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Saturday, July 7, 2018

as seeds fall by the side at Wimbledon !

The third round of singles gets completed on a super Saturday at Wimbledon, with Grand Slam champions Simona Halep, Jelena Ostapenko, and Angelique Kerber taking the court.

Poland's Alicja Rosolska and Abigail Spears of the United States sent the biggest shockwave through the Wimbledon women's doubles draw so far, eliminating the 5th -seeded team of Latisha Chan of Chinese Taipei and Peng Shuai of China in the second round, 6-4, 6-4. The Polish/American duo Rosolska and Spears  out-aced former doubles World No.1 players Chan and Peng by five to one, and dominated the seeded team on serve overall, winning a whopping 81 percent of points on their first serves.

Even as  more highly seeded rivals in the bottom half of the draw faltered, Serena Williams remained resolute. After a 7-5, 7-6(2) defeat of Kristina Mladenovic, the great American’s quest for an eighth Wimbledon singles title and record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title continues  into the second week.  Her sibling Venus Williams became the eighth top-10 women’s seed to go out but Serena Williams and Roger Federer won comfortably, while Alex Zverev advanced in five sets.. .. .. “Why are so many seeds out at Wimbledon already?” the BBC asked on its website on Friday morning.  What exactly fans want to see .. their heroes win easily or see some unheralded player making it to the top ??

Were “false rankings,” which don’t take into account player injuries and pregnancies, to blame? That’s how an unseeded Stan Wawrinka came to face, and beat, Grigor Dimitrov in the first round. Was it “nature,” in the form of rain, heat, slippery grass, or even flying ants? Marin Cilic was the victim of an untimely shower on Wednesday night.  How about fatique after a long clay season and a turbo-charged grass season? That may have been at the root of early exits by Petra Kvitova, Dominic Thiem, and Caroline Wozniacki. Finally, the BBC wondered, with so little separating one player from the next, should we even care about seedings in the first place?  On  women’s side,  by  Thursday, six of the top eight WTA seeds had departed, and No.9 and 10, Venus Williams and Madison Keys  were sent packing on Friday. That leaves just Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova among the top tier - as well as, of course, No.25 Serena Williams, who may now be the favourite to win her eighth Wimbledon despite hardly playing at all for the last year and a half.

The question that many fans might be asking now is: Should we be delighted or distressed by all of the carnage we see around us on the grounds? Are we in the middle of a mind-blowing party that will lead to an extended hangover when we wake up next week and see the names that are left in the draw?

Kiki Bertens reached the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time in her life and she had had to repel a rampant Venus Williams to do it. For two hours and 40 minutes Bertens battled for all she was worth. Sometimes she was in control, sometimes she could not hide her disappointment as Williams clawed her way back. But for most of the third set, it was a titanic struggle with both women at their best. And it was Bertens who edged the victory on her third match point 6-2, 6-7(5), 8-6.  The Dutchwoman was neat and efficient, striking the ball with venom and accuracy, and she was moving her illustrious foe all over the court. Of the four breaks of serve in the first five games, three went to Bertens – and this was against one of the most feared serves in the women’s game.

In that contest, Bertens won by a whisker. Not that Venus folded under the pressure of serving to stay in the match but rather that Bertens played some sensational rallies when she absolutely had to. She took on the experienced champion and she proved better than her in the dying moments. It’s no wonder she was kind of proud of herself.
In every game, it is that surprise element that continues to attract every fan .. .. seeding, class, experience, may all be there, but – it is performance on that particular match that counts – and as they say in ODI – it is not the better team but the team that plays better on that day wins ..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
7th July 2018.

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