The Big Three in Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer all advanced in radically different matches on Saturday at the All England Club.
The top-seeded Nadal, in a resumption of the previous day’s match, survived another tiebreak against the dangerous big server Gilles Muller, defeating the Luxembourg resident 7-6(6), 7-6(5), 6-0.
“The third set, two sets to love, I am able to play with less pressure,” said Nadal, who saved two sets points in the first set. “I started to return unbelievable and to play at very high level, I think.”
Djokovic struggled to find his game against an inspired opponent, defeating former Top 10er and No. 32 seed Marcos Baghdatis 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
“Considering my game, I don’t think I’ve played on top, played the way I played in the first two rounds. I was moving really bad. I didn’t feel great on the court,” said Djokovic, who improved to 5-0 career versus Baghdatis. “But all the credit to him for playing well. Couple of points really decided the winner.”
Federer in contrast blew by his former nemesis and No. 28 seed David Nalbandian 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.
“I thought today was a particularly good performance by my side, on my serve again,” said the self-effacing, humble Swiss. “I think I played a great match.”
Aussie Bernard Tomic led the upset movement on Saturday at Wimbledon, defeating an ailing No. 5 seed Robin Soderling who suffered stomach issues 6-1, 6-4, 7-5. Other upset winners were Poland’s Kubot over No. 9 Gael Monfils in four, and Xavier “X-Man” Malisse breaking the will of No. 11 seed Jurgen “Tuna” Melzer 6-0 in the third.
“I really came in today giving myself a chance,” said Tomic, who next faces Malisse. “I think I played really relaxed in the first set. I didn’t think I could win at the start. But the way I was playing, I was questioning myself. [And] after that first set, it opened up a lot of doors.”
Other Top 10-seeded winners on the day were No. 6 Tomas Berdych straight-setting Alex Bogomolov Jr., No. 7 David Ferrer doing likewise to Slovak Karol Beck, and No. 10 Mardy Fish advancing when opponent Robin Haase retired with injury in the fourth set.
Lower-seeded winners were No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga straight-setting Chile’s Fernando “Gonzo” Gonzalez, No. 24 Juan Martin Del Potro upsetting No. 15 Gilles Simon in straights, No. 18 Mikhail Youzhny upsetting No. 16 Nicolas Almagro in four, and No. 19 Michael Llodra straight-setting Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu.
Sunday is a day of rest at Wimbledon, but Monday will feature blockbuster fourth-round matches (4) Andy Murray vs. (17) Richard “Baby Fed” Gasquet, (1) Rafael Nadal vs. (24) Juan Martin Del Potro, rush-and-crush Frenchman (19) Michael Llodra vs. (2) Novak Djokovic, (18) Mikhail Youzhny vs. (3) Roger Federer, (10) Mardy Fish vs. 2010 runner-up (6) Tomas Berdych, Poland’s unseeded Lukasz Kubot vs. unseeded Spaniard Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez, (7) David Ferrer vs. (12) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and out on Court 18, unseeded Aussie Bernard Tomic vs. unseeded Belgian Xavier “X-Man” Malisse.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
Watching Novak Djokovic on grass, don’t you get the feeling that his massage-y, topspin groundstrokes that kind of sit up rather than power through the court aren’t good enough to win Wimbledon? He looks like he thinks he’s still at the French trying to hit a heavy topspin ball. Dude needs to learn how to flatten it out a little…The WTA Tournament of Champions, otherwise known as the “Loser Bowl” featuring the six highest-ranked players who won a title during the year but didn’t qualify for the WTA year-end championships, plus two wildcards, will move from Bali to Bulgaria in 2012…the Williams sisters will play the Rogers Cup in Toronto in August…the WTA Texas Tennis Open will debut in Grapevine (suburban Dallas), Tex., the week before the 2011 US Open, featuring Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Melanie Oudin and Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges among other players. Tournament organizers say most tournament matches will be held in the evening and at night to avoid the oppressive Texas heat. Go to the official tournament website and enjoy the message: “Fatal error: Maximum execution time of 30 seconds exceeded in D:\Hosting\7086576\html\wp-includes\class-wp-error.php on line 21“…Svetlana Kuznetsova talking to the NYT on accidently drilling Marion Bartoli with a ball during a warm-up in a match in 2006, and Bartoli later saying she did it on purpose: “Of course I apologized right away. Normally where a player warms up is three meters behind the net. She was a half-meter from the net. I hit her because she was very close and maybe doesn’t react to some balls. I still sometimes think, ‘That was for real? I don’t believe this happened.’ You’ve got to be a little crazy to see it that way.”…In her second-round match, world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki made one (1) unforced error…What does Andy Roddick have in common with “Fiery” Fred Stolle and Ken “Muscles” Rosewall? They are the only players in the modern era to be denied three (3) times in the Wimbledon final without capturing the title. Players denied two (2) times are Patrick Rafter, Ivan Lendl and Ilie Nastase…We had a hard time pulling ourselves away from the court where Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges and Maria Kirilenko were playing doubles together…So Rafael Nadal is having trouble with his knee? Say goodbye to seeing Rafa in Austin in two weeks when U.S. Davis Cup hosts Spain.
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