On a drama-filled Friday where all the talking points were on the court, Novak Djokovic found himself in huge trouble at two sets down, Serena and Venus Williams survived huge scares, and Stan Wawrinka was dumped out of the tournament by an injury-plagued Argentinian.
Djokovic was trailing American Sam Querrey 7-6 6-1 on Court 1 before rain suspended play. This score line was completely against the form guide – the Serb came into this year’s Wimbledon as the dominant world No.1, having won four straight majors as the first player to achieve the feat since 1969. Added to that, Querrey had lost his last four matches at majors and Djokovic leads their head-to-head clashes 8-1.
Djokovic faced a similar predicament at last year’s Wimbledon when he fought back from two-sets-to-love down against Kevin Anderson in the Round of 16 before going on to win the tournament. Similarly, Djokovic escaped with a five-set win against Gilles Simon at this year’s Australian Open after a really sluggish performance. Querrey, 28, has always been considered dangerous because of his big serve and forehand but his talent has never materialised. Ranked 41 now, if he can pull off the upset when play resumes Saturday, it will easily be the biggest win of his career.
Meanwhile, 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro upset fourth seed Wawrinka in a blockbuster second-round match 3-6 6-3 7-6 6-3. It was the first time two grand slam winners had met so early at Wimbledon since 2008.
Del Potro, who stands 6-foot-6 and is nicknamed ‘The Tower of Tandil’, has had his career decimated by wrist injuries. He has undergone surgery to his left wrist three times and to his right wrist once. As a result, he now chooses to slice the majority of his backhands rather than drive through the ball.
It is Del Potro’s first top-five win since beating Rafael Nadal at the 2013 Shanghai Masters.
“My hands are shaking. I feel alive”, Del Potro said.
Even Wawrinka was happy for the likeable Argentine.
“For sure we are all happy that he’s back,” Wawrinka said. “He was so unlucky with all the injuries he had for many years. We just all hope that he can be free of injury now and play well this year and next year.”
Serena Williams beat 65th ranked Christina McHale 6-7 6-2 6-4 in an absorbing contest under the Centre Court roof.
Serena thought she’d won the opening set when McHale sent a forehand long when serving to stay in the set. But Hawkeye showed the ball was in by a millimetre and McHale emerged to win the set 9-7 in the breaker. Serena was livid and, at the sit down, smashed her racket five times and then flung it over her head in the direction of a cameraman to earn a code violation.
After dominating the second set, Serena again found herself in a hole at 0-2 and 15-40 but eventually came through in a tension-filled third set.
Elder sister, Venus, also took the long-route after a 7-5 4-6 10-8 win over 19-year-old Russian Daria Kasatkina.
To catch up with a backlog of matches because of rain, Wimbledon organisers announced there would be play on ‘middle Sunday’ –traditionally a day off – for just the fourth time ever. The only previous three occasions were 1991, 1997 and 2004.