Wimbledon: Five Things We Learned On Day 4

1) It had to end eventually.  The match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut ended finally, with Isner finally breaking Mahut in the 138th game of the fifth set to win it 70-68 as the match was in its twelfth hour.  The match was an extremely impressive showing of mental fortitude and serving, even if some of the returning from Isner was mind-numbingly brainless at times.  The match was an unscriptable, once-in-a-lifetime sort of happening, and I am very glad that I was able to watch (and cover) it, no matter how insanity-inducing it was.  I'm not entirely sure I agree with having an award ceremony and choreographed photo session right at the end of a first round match, but that's a topic for a different time.

Especially if he gets onto a big court as he well might, I actually like Isner's chances in the second round against Thiemo de Bakker.  He'll have all the crowd support imagineable, and should be able to serve his way through whatever fatigue he's feeling.  Hell, even Mahut went out to play doubles later today (in a match that was cruelly placed on the same Court 18 where he'd battled Isner for the last three days).   I'm not entirely sure I agree with having an award ceremony and choreographed photo session right at the end, but that's a topic for a different time.

2) Philipp Petzschner is suddenly capable of winning in five sets. Philipp Petzschner was one match away from completing one of the most embarrassing accomplishing feats in sports--blowing a two-sets-to-none lead in all four grand slams consecutively. Petzschner has already registered consecutive chokes at the US Open, Australian Open and Roland Garros. He looked close to completing the quartet of agony in the first round of Wimbledon, as he needed a fifth set against unheralded Stephane Robert despite winning the first two. But he won that match in the fifth set, 6-4. Today against Lukasz Kubot in the second round, Philipp Petzschner found himself in the unusual role of comeback kid, climbing out of a two-sets-to-one hole to take the match in five. The bad news for Petzschner, of course, is that he could still very well blow a two-set lead in the next round. Except that he's playing Rafael Nadal, who doesn't seem especially likely to go down 0-2 to a player like Petzschner any time soon. finally closed out a win in 5

3) Clay courters are learning to chew through grass. David Ferrer, Fabio Fognini and Thomaz Bellucci joined Gael Monfils and Albert Montanes as a shockingly large battalion of clay courters in the third round of Wimbledon. I haven't seen enough of their matches to know if they're playing actual grass court tennis or if their wins are a factor of slower conditions, but either way these are surprising names to be encountering this late into the Wimbledon draw. No. 7 Nikolay Davydenko, however, remains a largely hopeless cause on the lawns.

4) Agnieszka Radwanska is quietly an incredibly solid grass courter. No. 7 Agnieszka Radwanska is about as anonymous as any reasonably attractive longtime Top Ten WTAer could be. Her lack of name recognition and unflashy style of play keeps her largely relegated from the biggest courts, and she hasn't won all that many huge titles. But her consistency, especially at Wimbledon over the years, is extremely commendable. Radwanska just about always beats the players she's supposed to beat, which is much more than can be said for most on the WTA.  Her first two matches at Wimbledon, a 6-3, 6-3 win over Melinda Czink and a 6-2, 6-0 trouncing of Alberta Brianti, are perfect examples of this.

5) The second quarter of the Ladies' Singles draw is wide open. Caroline Wozniacki's quarter of the top half is about as unprestigious as you can get. The eight players remaining (Wozniacki, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, Flavia Pennetta, Klara Zakopalova, Alexandra Dulgheru, Kaia Kanepi)have a combined career total of one grand slam semifinal appearance. That one was by Wozniacki in the 2009 US Open, where she waltzed through one of the easiest draws any finalist has had in grand slam history thanks to the havoc wrought by Melanie Oudin. Especially when compared to the potential fourth round matches lining up in other sections of the tournament (Serena-Sharapova and Clijsters-Henin), every player in this section should consider herself extremely lucky.

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