They did not quite manage to finish all of the first round matches due to rain today. But for the most part they are all done and all of the ones involving the major players are either completed or in hand. Since many of tomorrow’s second-round matches will start before today’s are finished, we are forced to put out our recap now. 7 matches have yet to be completed, though a player is serving for the match in three of them.
Top Players Roundup:
Novak Djokovic came easily through his first-round match against a very tough opponent. Ferrero could have troubled anyone and kept the first two sets pretty close. Djokovic was far too tough throughout and just blew him away in the third. Federer, meanwhile, slaughtered Albert Ramos, giving up just one game in each of the three sets. Federer looks comfortable, relaxed, and motivated so far here. Tomas Berdych was bounced in the first round by an inspired-playing Ernests Gulbis. Berdych didn’t play a bad match, but didn’t make the necessary adjustments that a World #7 should be able to make.
Rafael Nadal took care of business against Thomaz Bellucci. Bellucci came out to a fast start and took a 4-0 lead to start the match, but after that it was all Rafa. Rafa had more errors than usual in the match but was dominant through most of the rallies and really frustrated Bellucci with his great defense. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga did a very good job taking care of business against Lleyton Hewitt and his injured hand did not seem to bother him at all. And Andy Murray was absolutely dominant in his dismantling of Nikolay Davydenko. It looked like he wanted to send a message with this first match and he definitely did.
Who Looked Good:
1. Ernests Gulbis- He didn’t quite get enough attention for it, but Gulbis was undoubtedly the star of round 1. Gulbis has been, to say it nicely, a head case since almost his first day on tour. Tipped to be a future World #1 and multiple Slam winner, Gulbis showed a ton of talent and had some great game even early in his career. But then, things just stopped working. He was playing poorly, never confident, and made some really poor decisions on court. His match results became almost comedic in their ridiculousness. Many thought, and still think, that Gulbis had missed his chance to be a top tennis player. But he showed us great stuff for three entire sets on Monday, taking out #7 seed and former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych in straight sets. Berdych never adjusted to Gulbis’s game and Gulbis, to the shock of nearly everyone, didn’t choke. Hopefully for Ernests this can be a turning point in his career and he can maybe achieve close to what a player with his talent should.
2. Richard Gasquet- It wasn’t his best form but it was more than enough to dominate Tobias Kamke. Gasquet was solid and strong throughout, playing good tennis and not hitting too many errors. He was ahead in many of the points and really looked like he’s ready for another run on the grass here. He should have a few more rounds to come into his absolute top form before he faces an actual tough match. The draw is open for him here to make a big run if he can make the most of his chances.
3. Brian Baker- Baker’s amazing comeback continues here. He really took it to another talented youngster in Rui Machado and just beat him all over the court. He won his first-ever 6-0 set on the main tour and really has a good chance to make at least the third round here if he can play at this level. And, if what he did 7 years ago is any indication, he can play at a level even higher than this.
4. Janko Tipsarevic- Yes, the #8 seed winning in straight sets is supposed to be expected. But let’s not understate what Janko did here. Many tipped Nalbandian to beat him in this match and Nalbandian played well throughout. Tipsarevic was just better and more consistent throughout the match. His consistency is constantly surprising fans, but maybe at this point it shouldn’t anymore. Janko has shown us enough times that his ranking isn’t a fluke and he rarely loses matches that he should win anymore.
5. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga- A straight-sets win by a top 5 seed should be expected, but the expected never seems to happen when Lleyton Hewitt is on court now. Hewitt played tough, hit good shots, and really made Tsonga work for just about every point. Tsonga kept his serves big though and hit tremendously from all over the court, working his way to a win in straights. It was a very good win against a very tough opponent and should help him moving forward in this tournament. Also, and possibly more importantly, his hand looked fine and did not seem to impede his play at all.
Who Looked Bad:
1. John Isner- Isner is a lot more talented than the level he plays at in Slams. His return of serve and baseline game are not as atrocious as people think they are. He just feels like he’s not up for his early matches at Slams. He plays nowhere near the level that he played at against Nadal at Roland Garros last year or even agaisnt Federer, Tsonga, and Simon in Davis Cup this year. It feels like he thinks he can just ease his way into the tournament behind his massive serve and because of that constantly gets bounced early. He needs to play each match like it’s the final against a top player. He definitely can blow a lot of these lower players away. He just doesn’t and pays the price for it.
2. Nicolas Almagro- Almagro survived his first-round match and should get at least through to the third as Guillaume Ruffin won’t pose much of a challenge, but Almagro did not look at all good while doing it. He is not a great grass court player but has been so strong and so consistent for well over a year now. This was not a typical result for him at all. He will need to pick up his game back to his normal level if he wants to have any chance against (most likely) Gasquet in the third round.
3. Andy Roddick- It’s like he doesn’t get it. It’s kind of like he has the same line of thought as Isner. He knew that Jamie Baker would be completely outmatched by him, so he just didn’t give it his all. It’s an attitude like that that has led Roddick to many early Slam exits in recent years. When will he learn? Sets against players like Baker shouldn’t be close. The match was delayed overnight for rain with Roddick up a set and a break. Even if Roddick wins the rest of this set and the third set easily, it just shows you that he has the wrong attitude towards these early-round matches.
4. Stanislas Wawrinka- Wawrinka is playing against a tough grass opponent in Jergen Melzer. The match is at deuce with Melzer serving for the match in the fifth and will have to be postponed overnight due to the rain. There really is not usually any shame in losing to him on grass. But this is a match that Wawrinka should have won. He played well, hit big, and wasn’t even so bad on a lot of the big points. But he couldn’t serve well and missed a few key opportunities, which could ultimately cost him the match. It won’t a terrible loss if Melzer can serve it out, but Wawrinka really could have done better.
Match of the Round:
I am going to use this space to rail against ESPN and whoever else televised Wimbledon. They put cameras on almost all of the courts that are used for singles. Didn’t anyone learn from 2010 that history can happen on any court? What would have happened if there were no cameras on court 18? There were a lot of very entertaining matches throughout the past two days. But by all indications the match between Philipp Kohlschreiber and Tommy Haas was the best all round, and no one, other than the several hundred fans surrounding court 19, was able to see it. There’s no reason that they can’t put cameras without commentators on all courts. The amount of viewers they would gain would outweigh any costs anyway. And, more importantly, they would avoid angering fans who want to see as much good tennis as possible.
What to Watch in Round 2:
Harrison against Djokovic might be interesting for a bit, and Harrison won’t give up and will give the fans on Centre Court a show. He doesn’t have the talent to actually beat Djokovic but don’t be surprised if he plays a lot of good points and maybe even takes a set. Federer also has an interesting second-round match. Fognini is not at all in the same talent level as Federer but he always seems to produce epic results (in one way or another) and his matches are always can’t-miss tennis. And what better way to produce an epic result than against one of the greatest Wimbledon champions of all time on Centre Court?
Also in that half of the draw, Nicolas Mahut against Alejandro Falla should be quite a good match. Falla has the most underrated return of serve on tour and Mahut is a very good server and grass player. It should be a tight match and an interesting contrast of strengths. In the bottom half of the draw, make sure to watch Brian Baker continue his amazing comeback with a very winnable match against Jarkko Niemenin.
Sam Querrey against Milos Raonic (assuming the Canadian can serve out the match; he led by two sets and was serving at 5-4 when the rain came) should be a good match involving two very strong servers. Querrey just beat another impressive Canadian youngster, Vasek Pospisil, and would love to knock both Canadians out of the main draw here. Also, Grigor Dimitrov against Marcos Baghdatis is a matchup of two very talented players that finally both look to be playing well.
For up-to-the-second thoughts and comments, follow on Twitter at twitter.com/yesh222TSHQ