The All England Club’s medical rooms were overflowing as the third day of Wimbledon resembled a casualty ward with Rafael Nadal’s conqueror Steve Darcis one of five players to withdraw injured before mid-afternoon yesterday.
Darcis, who sent shockwaves around the tennis world on Monday with a first-round demolition of Nadal, was in good company with women’s second seed Victoria Azarenka unable to take to the Centre Court to face Italy’s Flavia Pennetta.
US marathon man John Isner, whose longest-ever tennis match is Wimbledon folklore, lasted only two games before his knee buckled against Adrian Mannarino.
Czech veteran Radek Stepanek then quit with a hamstring injury while trailing powerful Pole Jerzy Janowicz 6-2, 5-3, meaning the first three men’s second-round results of the day were decided by walkovers or retirements.
Men’s 10th seed Marin Cilic added to the injury list when he withdrew before his second-round match against Frenchman Kenny De Schepper.
The 29-year-old Darcis, who had been due to face Pole Lukasz Kubot, said he had injured his right shoulder in the heat of battle against Nadal.
Australian Open champion Azarenka was scheduled to open play on Centre Court, but withdrew as fans were taking their seats having failed to recover from the knee injury she sustained when slipping against Maria Joao Koehler on Monday.
Azarenka said an MRI scan had not revealed a torn ligament and that she had tried to practice before yesterday’s match with Pennetta.
Organizers quickly had to fill the gap left by Azarenka’s withdrawal, switching former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic to Centre Court for her match against reigning Wimbledon junior champion Eugenie Bouchard of Canada, but the 12th-seeded Serb’s upgrade did little for her performance as she lost 6-3, 6-3.
The biggest irony of the day was 18th seed Isner’s painful exit. The American, who beat Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in an 11-hour-five-minute epic in 2010, suddenly grabbed his left knee after a serve in the opening game.
After receiving attention he battled on for a while but threw down his racket at 1-1 and shook hands with Mannarino.
By contrast, defending champion Roger Federer looked a picture of health when he sauntered through the main gates holding the hands of his twin daughters.
The Swiss was to face Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky later on Centre Court while British eyes were also to be trained on Court One, where home favorite Andy Murray faces Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun.
Maria Sharapova, whose route to the final now looks clearer after Azarenka’s misfortune, was due on Court Two against Portugal’s Michelle Larcher de Brito.
In the games not cut short by injury, Lleyton Hewitt was dumped out by German qualifier Dustin Brown, the dreadlocked former Jamaica player, ending the 2002 champion’s hopes of an impressive comeback run.
Brown, whose fluid style and range of shots won him fans on Court 2, beat the Australian veteran 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-2 in the second round clash.
On Tuesday, Taiwan’s Jimmy Wang advanced to the second round of the men’s singles at Wimbledon for the third time in his career, after surviving a nearly four-hour marathon and a match point against him.
Wang, who needed to qualify to reach the main draw, defeated fellow qualifier Wayne Odesnik of the US 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 to set up a second-round tussle with 13th seed Tommy Haas of Germany today.
“The key to victory today is that I never gave up. I persevered to the end,” Wang told reporters. “From start to finish, I just played my game. The way I played wasn’t affected by changes in the score.”
For the 28-year-old, who missed the better part of three years from 2008 to 2010 with a wrist injury that nearly led him to give up the sport, Tuesday’s win was only his second at a Grand Slam event since his comeback and his first at Wimbledon since 2007.
“The victory today is really a form of validation and encouragement to me and is really significant,” Wang said. “The most important thing in getting out of the rut was not losing hope.”
In Tuesday’s evenly matched affair, the 151st-ranked Taiwanese won only three more points than his 107th-ranked opponent (164-161) and committed 59 unforced errors to Odesnik’s 60.
However, Wang made only six unforced errors in the decisive fifth set to Odesnik’s 13 and he also kept the American under pressure throughout the match with 25 break point chances, converting nine.
Wang also survived a match point while serving at 4-5 in the final set.
Looking ahead to his battle against a rejuvenated Haas, Wang said he would not feel any pressure against the higher ranked player and would stick to his game.
Wang previously reached the second round at Wimbledon in 2006 and 2007, but has never advanced to the third round of any Grand Slam tournament in his career.
With Tuesday’s victory, Wang joined compatriots Lu and Hsieh Su-wei in advancing to the second round of a Wimbledon singles draw this year.
Unfortunately for Hsieh, she was not as successful as Wang, losing to Alize Cornet (29) of France 6-3, 6-2 yesterday.
Also on Tuesday, Novak Djokovic proved shock-proof as a sense of order was restored on Tuesday after Nadal’s defeat.
Djokovic outmaneuvered Mayer, a player just outside the top 32 seeds who he faced in the quarter-finals last year, for a 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 victory.
Fourth-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer completed a far-from-memorable Centre Court program with a 6-1, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 win against Argentina’s Martin Alund, despite several tumbles.
Other men’s seeds also flourished with Czech 2010 runner-up Tomas Berdych, Argentine 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, Germany’s Tommy Haas and talented Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov all enjoying straight sets wins.
In the women’s draw, last year’s runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska, Samantha Stosur and Angelique Kerber all progressed, but 10th seed Maria Kirilenko suffered a surprise 6-3, 6-4 defeat by Briton Laura Robson.