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WIMBLEDON, England — It’s Manic Monday, tennis’ everyone-in-the-pool lollapalooza. All 32 remaining singles players were in action today…and here’s one dispatch from each of the 16 matches.
• Spotting her opponent 12 years and 307 ranking spots, Coco Gauff, the 15-year-old phenom, held her own against Simona Halep. But after six straight victories here—three in qualifying—she finally started acting her age and fell 6-3, 6-3. Halep looked uncomfortable playing a teenager, Amanda Anisimova, in Paris. Today, she was all business.
• A bubbling theme this tournament: The Big Three are awesome; but the bench is quite thin in men’s tennis right now. We got another indication today as Matteo Berrettini—winner of a grass court tournament just last month! And No. 10 in the world!—offered precious little resistance against Roger Federer. The first set lasted 17 minutes. The whole match lasted 73. There’s no shame in losing to Federer (or Nadal or Djokovic). But it’s curious that three players, ages 37, 33 and, 32 can cruise like this. In their three combined matches today, they faced a combined one break point. It was Federer. He saved it.
Ash Barty was consigned to Court No. 2, unbecoming of a top seed and winner of the previous major. Maybe the organizers knew something. Barty was decidedly off against Pittsburgh’s Alison Riske, who was decidedly on. Breaking serve four times and winning 20 points at net—and playing a brilliant final two sets—Riske prevailed, scoring the biggest win of her career.
• Serena Williams took the court knowing that if she won, she would not have to play the top seed in the quarters, but rather, No. 55 Alison Riske. Serena had never dropped a set in her previous six meetings with Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro. And form held this afternoon on Court One, as Serena won 6-2, 6-2 and is now six sets away from magic No. 24.
• As Serena was destroying a Spaniard, Rafa Nadal was doing the same to Joao Sousa of Portugal. After getting past Nick Kyrgios in a rare grudge match, Nadal has simply dominated. He broke serve six times against Sousa and made it into the quarters in barely 100 minutes, the first male player off the court.
• Playing like the defending champion he is, Novak Djokovic had no trouble taking out Ugo Humbert, tying Boris Becker and making his 11th Wimbledon quarter.
• In a battle of two unseeded Americans, Sam Querrey took out Tennys Sandgren. Querrey beat Djokovic here in 2016, Murray in 2017 and plays Nadal next.
• David Goffin becomes the first Belgian men’s quarterfinalist since Xavier Malisse in 2002 when he beat Fernando Verdasco today, 7-6, 2-6. 6-3, 6-4.
• Belgium’s Elise Mertens was up a 6-4, 5-2…and then Barbora Strycova remembered that she is a savvy player, especially on grass. The Czech, pondering retirement, reeled off eight straight games and dashed into the quarters for the second time in her career.
• At 5:00 in the evening, two-time champion Petra Kvitova was the highest seed remaining. She wore that distinction for roughly an hour. Then Jo Konta turned in still another brilliant performance on Centre Court and won 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the later rounds for the second straight major.
• Kei Nishikori often reaches the quarterfinals of Grand Slame. He’s done it an even dozen times, in fact, including all three so far in 2019. And he often does so with considerable work. Today he did both, beating Mikhail Kukushkin in four sets and 163 minutes. Federer is next.
• Elina Svitolina and Petra Martic played 100 points in the first set, more than you’ll see in some entire matches. After all that exertion, Martic hurt her lower back and Svitolina prevailed, 6-4, 6-2.
• Roberto Bautista Agut is not known for his grass-court expertise. But in this Wimbledon he’s been broken only twice and has spent less time on the court than any other player. He needed only 112 minutes to beat Benoit Paire of France. Note that he is in the same half as Djokovic, who he has beaten twice this year already.
• In the discount double Czech special—and the double Karolina special—Karolina Pliskova took the court knowing that if she could beat countrywoman Karolina Muchova, she had a real shot of taking over the No. 1 ranking from Barty. At 11-11 in the third set, it looked like we would have our first 12-12 decisive-set shootout in Wimbledon history. But Muchova prevailed 13-11, depriving us of that spectacle. And Pliskova was deprived the top ranking. It’s a pity for Muchova that she won a 3:17 match, longest of the tournament, and has to play tomorrow. But what an effort.
• Last, year, Guido Pella of Argentina beat Marin Cilic, a former finalist. He beat Kevin Anderson, a former finalist last week. Today, Pella came back from 2-1 sets down to beat former finalist Milos Raonic.
• Zhang Shaui became the first Chinese woman to reach the quarters of a Major since 2013, taking out 19-year-old Dayana Yastremska in three sets.