On a rain-drenched Friday at Wimbledon, men and women’s defending champions faced even heavier weather in the matches against their opponents. While Serena Williams managed to extricate herself from a losing position to advance to the third round, Novak Djokovic found himself on the brink of an early extinction from the All England Club. In the third-round match against big-serving American Sam Query, Djokovic lost the first two sets before the game was called off due to rain. When the match resumes on Saturday, the defending champion will face an uphill struggle to stay in this year’s Wimbledon. Meanwhile world no.3 Roger Federer duly won his third round match against a second British player Dan Evans, after the theatrical show on Wednesday with Marcus Willis. With the weather having wrecked the first week’s draw at the All-England Club, Sunday’s usual rest day will now be used for the first time in Wimbledon since 2004 to clear the backlog of accumulated matches.
Novak Djokovic is staring down the barrel in his rain-interrupted third round match against USA’s Sam Query. After the tightly fought first set was taken at 8-6 by the world no.28 Query, Djokovic faced enhanced heat in the second. The American simply blew away the Serb 6-1 and they called off the match, when Query had delivered his ninth ace of the match. The interruption would have relieved Djokovic more than anybody else. The 12-time Grand Slam winner played second fiddle to someone, who is credited with an ATP record of sending down 10 consecutive aces in a 2007 match against fellow American James Blake. The world no.1 didn’t have any trouble in his first two matches of the tournament and he didn’t drop a set. But he looked strangely vulnerable against Query, who has only beaten the Serb once in their last 9 meetings. Though the balance is heavily tilted in Query’s favor, it will still be unwise to write Djokovic off. The man has the capability of bouncing back from the brink. Djokovic could return with a vengeance by winning three quick-fire sets on Saturday. Until then, the world will wait.
The other defending champion Serena Williams was fully stretched by compatriot Christina McHale in her second round match on Friday. McHale was the dominant player for the better part of the match and Serena’s hard work didn’t yield any benefit in the opening set. At 4-4, the rains began pouring down and the center court roof had to be closed. The set went to the tiebreak that McHale won at 9-7. However, the world no.1 found her game in the second set and the decider came after she allowed McHale only two games. But McHale was not about to give in. She took a 2-0 lead by breaking Serena early and when Serena served; she went down 15-40. Just when her dream of winning the record-equaling 22 Grand Slams was about to end, Serena produced three consecutive aces to bounce back in the match. After that, the legendary American held off her fellow countrywoman and finished off the match at 6-7, 6-2, 6-4. Earlier, Serena’s sister Venus was also given a hard time by Russian Daria Kasatkina. Venus squandered a 5-1 first set advantage and just managed to win the set at 7-5. But the drop in tempo allowed the Russian to rule in the second set. Kasatkina forced the decider and fought hard in the third. However, the 5-time Wimbledon winner still won the match 7-5, 4-6, 10-8 after flirting with the tournament exit.
While the two defending champions had tough time in their matches, Roger Federer was on song at the center court. He played another British player on Friday, after disposing off Marcus Willis on Wednesday. But Dan Evans couldn’t unruffle the 7-time All-England champion. The Swiss had great starts in all his three sets and easily won 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. Federer has struggled this year with injury and illness but looks in good touch now. Regardless, Evans was pleased with his effort and felt his dreams of playing against Federer were realized. Though Federer sailed into the fourth round, he is yet to produce his best tennis. However, three wins on trot would have consolidated his resolve to make it the Grand Slam no.18 this time round. The Swiss is on the same end of the draw that should see him on collision course with Novak Djokovic but things could change with the Serb yet to clear a huge hurdle against Sam Query on Saturday. Last year Germany’s Dustin Brown created shockwaves by beating Rafael Nadal in the second round. Yesterday, he came close to upsetting Australia’s 15th seed Nick Kyrgios also in a five-set second round match. The temperamental Australian swore and argued with match officials during the match before beating Brown 6-7, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.