A WIMBLEDON POSTCARD FROM GATE 13: One great thing about Wimbledon is that, even on a very normal gray Thursday, there are compelling sites everywhere. Centre Court is a temple. St. Mary’s walk is the All England Club’s answer to the Champs-Éllysé. The people-watching at the tea room is sublime, Henman Hill is a jolly and benign gathering of humanity with a British accent, and the Wimbledon queue is the most enchanting exercise in patience in all of tennis.
But today, by Gate 13, just outside elegant iron gates, I pause to observe. Somerset Road has been shut down to most traffic this year, so a curious mix of folks mingle and pass by.
Grizzled paparazzi chat freely as they wait to photograph assorted football stars and minor royals. A serene gentleman in a blue blazer and a pink shirt anticipates watching Rafa and a young American. He tells his Italian companion, “I think her name is Coco.”
An honorary steward sporting a straw hat tells a trio of fans from Yorkshire: “Congratulations! You have your ticket code on your phones! You all get gold stars.”
A towering security worker in an elegant gray suit and a well-fitted earpiece whispers into his walkie-talkie. Two well-armed bobbies with bicycles survey the civilized scene: there is peace in the kingdom.
Centre Court-bound ladies from Highbury-Islington in flowing beige and lavender silk dresses stroll by in high heels while somber players with their grim coaches head to the indoor practice court with high intent.
Schoolgirls with proper skirts and bulging backpacks are wide-eyed, and a kind looking young maintenance worker with ample dreadlocks seems oblivious to it all.
After all, it’s just another scene on yet another cloudy day at the world’s most intriguing tennis tournament.
THUS SPOKE RAFA: You know Nadal’s at the mic when you hear the words, “Be humble and accept the challenge and think positive all the time.” BTW: Rafa said that two weeks ago he was close to retiring. He added that he has a lot to do away from tennis, all great stars are missed when they step away and he is missing seeing Tiger Woods play regularly.
THE NICK KRYGIOS QUOTEBOOK:
- “If Nick Kyrgios were alone in a room with himself, he’d have an argument with the walls.” – Zachary Gates
- “What is it like to be inside the Nick Kyrgios mind?” – Wimbledon’s on-court interviewer
- “I just wanted to remind everyone that I’m pretty good.” – Nick Kyrios on his commanding win today
AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY CRITIC: Nick Krygios plays with extraordinary brilliance. His shots astound. There have been few greater entertainers in tennis. And we have noticed that at times he offers criticisms of other players, coaches, officials, organizations, fans and umps. But, perhaps even more than anything, he relishes snapping at the media, which he views as an adversary. One example is this exchange with veteran Australian writer Jacquelin Magnay.
Q. Do you feel that the media portrayed you wrongly after what happened on Tuesday in any way? How did they disrespect you? You seem very angry towards what has happened.
NICK KRYGIOS: I’m not angry. I’m happy.
Q. And with the investigation into the spitting incident, have you thought about what happened and reflected upon that now? I know you went up to the umpire and [also] said something to the man that you criticized during that game. I’m just wondering what you said to him as well.
NICK KYRGIOS: Why would you be asking me a question about two days ago? Is it because you have no story for today?
Q. No, no. I’m asking you because there’s a current investigation.
NICK KYRGIOS: But I played Filip Krajinovic today. Do you not want to know how I played today?
Q. I saw you play today. You were fantastic.
NICK KYRGIOS: Then why don’t you ask me a question about it?
Q. Because there’s an investigation.
NICK KYRGIOS: Are you investigating it personally?
NICK KYRGIOS: So why do you care?
Q. Because it involves you.
NICK KYRGIOS: I’m still in Wimbledon right now.
NICK KYRGIOS: So let’s talk about that.
Q. Why don’t you want to talk about it?
NICK KYRGIOS: Because I’ve spoken about it.
AMERICA WATCH: San Diegan Brandon Nakashima, with his sublime backhand, upset No. 13 seed Denis Shapovalov, who’s lost seven of his last eight matches. Other American winners today included, No. 11 seed Taylor Fritz, the previously slumping Jenson Brooksby, Amanda Anisimova and French Open quarterfinalist Jessica Pegula. Floridians Gauff and Anisimova will face each other in the third round. Alison Riske-Amritraj, John Isner, Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul and Steve Johnson and all won their matches Wednesday. Johnson will play Britain’s Cam Norrie on Centre Court in the last match on Friday.
ISNER POWER: Sorry, Reilly Opelka, Pete Sampras, Pancho Gonzales and Ivo Karlovic, many say that John Isner has the best serve in tennis history. At Wimbledon he’s been hitting an ace every three serves. Incredibly, British broadcaster Dan Walker said Isner was “far too nice.”
MUSING ON ROE: Serena Williams passed on commenting on the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision. But Coco Gauff said, “I was very shocked. I thought [there was] no way that this decision would be overturned…because Roe v. Wade was a decision that [had been] made.
“I just hope this isn’t a decision to…[take us] backwards and lead to more decisions that make us outraged.
“Being a woman in America, being my age, I think I should have the right to do what I want with my body.
“I hope there will be change. I’m pretty positive there will be. There’s a new generation coming up…so I’m not worried that this decision will remain, long-term.” BTW: Coco became the fifth female player of the century to win 25 Slam matches before she was 19. Others were Serena, Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova and Nicole Vaidisova.
STOP THE WORLD I WANT TO GET OFF: Holland’s Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove, who’s No. 138, actually got a set off of No. 1 Iga Swiatek. The Pole eventually prevailed. She’s won 37 straight matches and her streak is the longest in this century. It ties the mark of Martina Hingis. Iga next faces Alize Cornet. Still, the other day Swiatek said, “I still have to figure out how to win on grass.”
SERENA WATCH: We’ve all watched Serena evolve and change over the years. And here’s one small thing. When she first appeared as a wide-eyed teen, Serena wore colorful beads in her hair. In its way, it was quite a statement. In England, Serena, now 40, has worn black medical tape on her face to help her with sinuses.
PAINFUL PENALTY: At match point down, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina got a point penalty for ball abuse that gave Jiri Vesely a win in the fifth-set tiebreak.
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF EMMA RADUCANU: The life and times of Emma Raducanu are nothing if not interesting. About an hour after coming off court with her extraordinary US Open trophy she was posing in an attractive black dress. Soon the player who was No. 330 a year ago was making glamorous appearances at the Met Gala and a James Bond premiere, and signing huge endorsements with Porsche, Tiffany, Dior and many more. The kid is now worth $12 million. But there was turmoil in her camp. Coaches came and went, there were injuries and precious few wins. She didn’t get past the quarters at any event and her Wimbledon preparation was brief.
After she lost in the second round to the streaking Caroline Garcia, she offered a million dollar smile and said, “There’s no pressure. Like, why is there any pressure? I’m still 19. Like, it’s a joke. I literally won a Slam…For me, everything is learning. I’m embracing every single moment that is thrown at me.
“It’s just great for me to get all these lessons at such a young age so that when I’m in my mid-20s, I’ll have those issues or little glitches in my game sorted out.”
DISHARMONY IN HARMONY’S WORLD: Tuesday France’s Harmony Tam became the darling of Wimbledon after she upset Serena. But she drew scorn today when, at the last minute, she withdrew from her doubles match. Her partner, Tamara Korpatch was livid. The German wrote, “Harmony can’t run cause she played a three-hour match yesterday. Sorry, but I’ve played 6:33h in one day and played a singles match the next day. It is really not fair and I’m very sad and disappointed that I can’t play my 1st Grand Slam doubles.” Harmony won her singles match and is through to the third round.