Wimbledon king Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova endured jolting second-round losses to opponents outside the world top 100 in a freakishly dramatic “Wednesday Wipeout” that saw seven players withdraw injured and the draw shredded.
Second seed Victoria Azarenka, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Steve Darcis, man-of-the-moment after his opening day victory over Spaniard Rafael Nadal, were among the casualties on Wednesday as the medical bulletins piled up.
When France’s Michael Llodra retired from his second-round match against Italian 23rd seed Andreas Seppi yesterday, the total number of pullouts rose to 11.
Llodra’s withdrawal allowed Seppi to book a third round clash against either Japan’s Kei Nishikori or Leonardo Mayer of Argentina.
However, five-time champion Serena Williams managed to avoid the title contender jinx by beating Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-2 yesterday to reach the third round.
The top-ranked Williams never looked in danger against the 100th-ranked French qualifier. Williams broke twice in each set to set up a match with Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm, who at 42 became the oldest woman to reach the third round in the Open era.
Date-Krumm beat Alexandra Cadantu of Romania 6-4, 7-5 to reach the third round for the first time since 1996, when she reached the semi-finals.
With title contenders dropping like flies, some before even striking a ball in anger, home favorite Andy Murray must be licking his lips after avoiding the scrapheap with an incident-free second-round win over Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun.
As seeded players fell in an undignified heap, the second-seeded Murray made sure his match would be shock-proof, defeating Lu in three straight sets.
“You have to make sure you are ready. Rafa’s result is a perfect example of that. You just can’t take anything for granted,” Murray told the Guardian newspaper prior to his match with Lu.
Murray certainly looked ready when he took the grass on Wednesday, threatening Lu in each service game and earning his points patiently in a 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 victory.
Lu afterward said his serve was off and that Murray deserved the victory because he played remarkably well, adding that the Scot adjusted quickly after he changed his hitting strategy in the third set in an attempt to throw Murray off.
The pair had played twice before, each winning once. Lu stunned Murray in the first round of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but Murray got his revenge in the Indian Wells tournament earlier this year.
Lu’s hope of redemption in the doubles ended yesterday after he and Lithuanian partner Ricardas Berankis lost in straight sets to Polish duo Tomasz Bednarek and Mateusz Kowalczyk in the first round.
However, there was good news for Taiwanese tennis fans as Hsieh Su-wei and her Chinese doubles partner Peng Shuai, seeded No. 8, won their first-round women’s doubles match on Wednesday.
Hsieh and Peng defeated Russians Vera Dushevina and Alexandra Panova in straight sets 7-5, 6-1 on Court 6, only hours after Hsieh suffered a disappointing loss in her second-round singles draw.
“I was very nervous. I didn’t prepare myself mentally to handle the pressure of facing a seeded player. I played horribly,” Hsieh told reporters after the match in which Alize Cornet of France, seeded 29, beat Hsieh 6-3, 6-2 to advance.
“I felt really good in practice during the days leading up to my singles match. Even my serves were very good, but my performance today wasn’t nearly half as good as during practice, which makes me very upset,” Hsieh wrote on Facebook.