A Novak Djokovic fightback was halted by rain, Nick Kyrgios and Dustin Brown served up a spectacular encounter, Serena Williams took her frustration out on a racket and Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun lost in the doubles at the rain-drenched Wimbledon tournament, where the schedule was in disarray yesterday.
The most shocking development on Friday was what was going on in Djokovic’s third-round match against 28th-seeded Sam Querrey of the US before it was suspended because of showers in the evening.
Djokovic, owner of a 30-match Grand Slam winning streak that includes the past four major titles, allowed Querrey to seize the first two sets 7-6 (8/6), 6-1 during their 72 minutes of action. Given the way things were going for the No. 1-seeded Djokovic, he had to be thrilled that the match was halted, giving him a night to rest and regroup.
Play resumed at the All England Lawn Tennis Club yesterday, intermittently. At press time last night, Djokovic had won the third set 6-3 after another rain delay.
The first match between Kyrgios and Brown, rather like a scientist mixing two volatile elements in a flask, always had the potential for something quite spectacular.
So it proved as two of the world’s most unpredictable tennis players cooked up a five-set cocktail of whacky shot-making that had a sell-out Court Two crowd spellbound.
Sparks flew and the textbook was shredded over 2 hours, 6 minutes of tennis, the like of which occasionally bordered on the kind of “hit and giggle” served up at exhibition events, not a second-round match at the most traditional of Grand Slam tournaments.
Incredibly, they rattled through five sets with 15th seed Kyrgios prevailing 6-7 (3/7), 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 to set up a third-round clash with Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.
It was tennis, but not as we know it.
Brown, a dreadlocked Jamaican-German who bamboozled twice champion Rafael Nadal with his serve and volley game in a second-round shock last year, conjured several contenders for shot of the tournament — including an audacious between-the-legs drop-shot that defied belief.
For his part, Australian Kyrgios, a quarter-finalist on his debut appearance in 2014 when he also demolished Nadal, produced a mixture of sublime winners, meltdowns and histrionics that earned him a code violation for swearing.
“Don’t spoil it Nick,” one of his entourage said at the start of the third set, by which time a previously sanguine Kyrgios was beginning to boil after US umpire Jake Garner deemed he had failed to scoop up a Brown drop-volley.
“I’ll spoil it if I want to,” Kyrgios retorted before dropping serve in the second game of the third set and directing a stream of invective toward his support team.
His frustration was partly due to Brown’s unorthodox brilliance, the vest-top wearing wildcard’s tricks for once leaving maverick Kyrgios in the shade.
“He hit one through the legs dropshot, made me feel horrendous. He was hitting volleys that are spinning back over [his side of the net],” Kyrgios told a news conference, which ended in a farce when he became involved in an argument with a reporter. “There were times out there where you literally don’t want to play. You just want to put the racket down.”
Only one man managed to move his way into the fourth round: Roger Federer. He got to play in the main stadium, with the roof overhead, and easily beat Britain’s Daniel Evans 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
Four other third-round men’s matches were suspended in progress. Worst of all, from a scheduling standpoint, one second-round men’s match was still not finished, with No. 24 Alexander Zverev locked in a fifth set against Mikhail Youzhny.
Officials scrapped the traditional rest day today, something that has only happened before in 1991, 1997 and 2004.
Among other winners on Friday was 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, who eliminated fourth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 to reach the third round along with Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Lucas Pouille and John Isner.
In the women’s draw, Serena Williams sat in her Centre Court sideline chair and cracked her racket against the turf in response to dropping the first set after being a single point from taking it. Then she casually flung the racket, hurling it so far behind her that it landed in the lap of a TV cameraman filming her second-round match against 65th-ranked Christina McHale of the US.
Williams recovered to force a third set, only to fall behind yet again on Friday, perilously close to what would have been the six-time champion’s earliest exit in 17 Wimbledon appearances.
However, as she said afterward: “Mentally, no one can break me.”
Eventually, the top-ranked Williams came through, edging McHale 6-7 (7/9), 6-2, 6-4 for a thrill-a-minute victory.
“I was just really, really, really angry. I had a lot of chances,” said Williams, who acknowledged that she faced a fine for her display and joked that she needed to reach her racket-smashing quota for the season.
Other winners among the women were Annika Beck, Barbora Strycova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus Williams in second-round matches, while in the third round, Carla Suarez Navarro defeated Marina Erakovic 6-2, 6-2.
In the first round of the men’s doubles, Lu and partner Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia were beaten by Poland’s Marcin Matkowski and Leander Paes of India 6-1, 6-3.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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