Just when you thought it couldn’t possibly deliver a bigger shock than Rafael Nada losing in the first round, Wimbledon 2013 came up with one of the most dramatic days in the tournament’s history.
Day Three was one of major upsets and an unprecedented injury count, which will leave the tournament more open to the possibility of a surprise champion for many years.
Defending champion Roger Federer was stunned by world number 116 Sergiy Stakhovsky in four sets to suffer his earliest exit for 11 years.
The Ukrainian provided a throwback display of grass court tennis to unsettle the seven-time champion, coming into the net behind first and second serves and generally attacking throughout.
Stakhovsky showed great spirit in recovering from a first set tie-break defeat to eventually triumph 6-7(5) 7-6(5) 7-5 7-6(5) and end Federer’s incredible run of 36 consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final appearances.
Centre Court was not the only place to witness a huge upset of a major seed; Court Two was also treated to some high drama – SW19-style.
Women’s third seed Maria Sharapova was dumped out by world number 131 Micelle Larcher de Brito in straight sets, though there was some controversy attached to it.
The 2004 champion fell three times after slipping on the grass and required an injury time out in the second set.
Sharapova at one point complained to the umpire that the court was dangerous, but refused to use it as an excuse after the match, pointing out it was the same for her opponent.
She was right too, as Portugal’s De Brito didn’t suffer anything like the same problems – possibly because she is significantly shorter than the 6ft 2in Sharapova and so has a smaller stride – and played the match of her life to win 6-3 6-3 in relative comfort.
Wimbledon ground staff were under the microscope after seven players pulled out through injury on what was being labelled ‘Black Wednesday’ by some.
Women’s second seed Victoria Azarenka did not come out for her second round clash, while men’s sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was forced to retire during his match on Centre Court – both were due to knee injuries.
Azarenka took a dramatic fall in her first round match and required heavy strapping on her knee to continue, while Tsonga decided enough was enough after receiving treatment and going two sets to one down against Latvian Ernests Gulbis.
2011 women’s singles champion Petra Kvitova got a walkover after her opponent Yaroslava Shvedova withdrew because of an arm injury.
Meanwhile, the surprise name of the tournament from Tuesday, Steve Darcis, decided he could not play owing to a shoulder injury suffered during his incredible first round victory over Rafael Nadal.
Men’s tenth seed Marin Cilic was another to pull out ahead of his match, while 18th seed John Isner was forced to retire after only two games of his match against Adrian Mannarino of France.
Another retiree was Radek Stepanek, who was a set and a break down against promising young Pole Jerzy Janowicz.
Women’s ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki was shocked in straight sets by Czech world number 196 Petra Cetkovska, though the Dane required heavy strapping on an ankle injury suffered after slipping, again on Court Two.
Twelfth seed and former world number one Ana Ivanovic was also dumped out by an unlikely opponent in Eugenie Bouchard, though the 19-year-old Canadian is a very promising talent and won the junior title last year.
Day Four at Wimbledon will be hard pressed to match Wednesday for drama and, though fans will be hoping for some, they will not want it to be because of any more injuries – there may be nobody left for week two at this rate.
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