I think it is fair to say that my favourite two players currently are Serena Williams and Dan Evans, it’s not a big secret. I couldn’t believe my luck when they were both scheduled on Court One on Saturday. I thought Evo might be on there but didn’t think I would get the double chop and see both. Basically absolutely buzzin but a few nerves too. I could relax between Konta and Stephens, two players I like.
I am a bit slower out with this blog as I wanted to take my time and the middle Sunday gives me that chance. I needed to ‘collect’ my thoughts on the day.
Rena was first up and I was very, very worried about the threat of Goerges. Was Georges guilty of getting involved in ‘one strike’ tennis? Yes, but this was much better from Serena. The serve looked a lot sharper for me and the return was looking better too. Not getting broke is a decent confidence booster. The movement wasn’t tested as much yesterday but her life will be a lot easier if the serve keeps finding a bit extra round by round. I think the mixed doubles is an even better idea the more I think about it. It sounds so obvious, but the more game time she can have the better it has to be for not just now but the US swing too. It will be a totally different matchup against Suarez Navarro, who ended Lauren Davis’s run. She will be doing her very best to test the Serena movement but obviously, she doesn’t have the power of a Goerges. I am getting more pumped with each round. A good win for Rena and Muzza in the doubles btw.
Then it was time to sit and back and enjoy Konta against Sloane. It looked like Sloane was going to get her first win over the Brit, having led by a set and looking the more likely to get the break in the second. Midway through it though she failed to take her break point chances and the match turned and very quickly. Konta was playing the big points a lot better as the match wore on and having taken the second it became apparent there was only one winner in the decider. It will be hard-hitting fourth round against Kvitova, who put in her best performance to date by beating Magda Linette.
Then it was onto Evo. I was really up for this, Rena had won and Evo in the last 16 was a prospect I was flying about. I was seriously giving it some vocally during this one, on my feet applauding and shouting between points (being at the end of the aisle made this easier). I left pretty stunned. I would honestly say after a quick round of applause I was out of Court One as quick as Evo himself. It is a very tough loss for him, his team and his fans. I can honestly say I was gutted. The opportunity to play Nadal on Monday after he had battered Jo-Wilfred felt like a freebie to go and enjoy himself with no pressure and it was so close. Sousa played well and the match was full of ups and downs. The atmosphere was electric, for a neutral it was great. I wasn’t one of them. Evo had him where he wanted for large spells but as he said himself, “I was found wanting when I needed to find my serve in all five sets.” The one thing that cannot be questioned was his commitment and will to win. He threw everything at it and some. There can be times when you want something so bad that you want it too much. For me, I think that was the case here. Evo wants to prove a point and it meant a lot to him. The crowd were out of order at times, a bit too noisy, shouting out midpoint when they thought Evo had won the point when he hadn’t. Lack of tennis knowledge basically and probably too pissed. On reflection, this will have been a very positive grass court campaign from Evans and one I am damned sure he will surpass next season. Evo also said after that the next part of the season is probably his strongest, there is the case for this certainly. On we go. Up the Evo.
Around the other courts, Federer had too much in the key moments for Lucas Pouille, no real surprises there. His next opponent, Matteo Berrettini maybe struggling after his marathon win over Diego Schwartzman. The Argentine really should have won this but the Italian really came up with the goods when required, against an opponent he admits he doesn’t enjoy playing.
Sam Querrey and Tennys Sandgren both progressing mean there will be an American in the quarter-finals. The biggest story out of this is that during his defeat to Sandgren, Fognini said a bomb should explode at the AELTC. He is going to be in a lot of hot bother here. Especially considering past misdemeanours.
Kei Nishikori really is sneaking through under the radar here, he outclassed Steve Johnson in every department and will play Mikhail Kukushkin on Monday. Kukushkin backed up his win over Isner with a four-set win over Jan-Lennard Struff.
In the Ladies, Kiki Bertens was well beat by Barbora Strycova. She was very lucky to get away with it against Taylor Townsend in the last round, but Strycova is operating at a very high level right now. It sounds like after losing the first set the match went away from Kiki very quickly. Strycova will play Elise Mertens next after she beat Qiang Wang in three. This was a brutal encounter nearly lasting for three hours.
Top seed Ash Barty had an easy time of it against Harriet Dart. I still think she may be caught cold eventually here. Surely this has been a case of a little bit too straight forward? Does she not need a match to get into the tournament? Maybe not. Alison Riske is her next opponent. She came from 0/3 down in the decider against Belinda Bencic who threw this one away a bit. The champion of Surbiton marches on but she is surely starting to feel the effects of some long matches, not just over the last week but the last month.
Onto Manic Monday.
Andy Del Potro