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With the schedule jam-packed due to Monday's rain, there was plenty one could learn on Day 2 at Wimbledon 2011.
1. Sequels suck. If it were a movie, Isner-Mahut II would be praised for dramatically improved acting. Both John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played much smarter, bolder tennis, especially on their returns. But the screenplay didn't hold a candle to the epic original, with the scoreline resembling a routine Isner victory. By the time the match had reached the third set, the stands were more than half-empty, which is pretty shocking considering how much hype there was for this match. It's fair to say that no one wants to see Isner-Mahut become a trilogy.
2. This whole tennis thing means an awful lot to Serena Williams. Anyone who has ever seen Serena Williams play a tight match knows how much she hates losing. She claws and screams her way back from the brink of defeat time and time again with incredible heart. But until today, it wasn't always clear just how much just playing means to her. Now it is.
3. Old dogs can still chase younger dogs around the yard. Wimbledon 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt scored his biggest win of the year with an incredibly impressive four set victory over young whipper-snapper Kei Nishikori, beating the young Japanese hopeful 6-1, 7-6(4), 7-6(9), 6-3. Another player in the last stages of his career, American James Blake, had a surprisingly excellent showing as well. Down two sets to none, Blake pushed No. 32 seed Marcos Baghdatis to a fifth set before eventually succumbing 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 4-6, 6-4. If that was Blake's last match at Wimbledon, he went out on a high note.
4. Melanie Oudin might be done. No. 18 Ana Ivanovic has become one of the streakiest players in tennis, so for Oudin to lose to her 6-0, 6-1 says a lot about where the young American's game is (or isn't) right now. Oudin made the fourth round of Wimbledon (and more famously the quarterfinals of the US Open) in 2009, so the surface isn't what made her lose. Oudin will get her share of wild cards in the American hard court season, thus she won't disappear immediately. But if she doesn't take advantage of those opportunities, her place in the main draw of slams will be in serious jeopardy.
5. Women in the top half aren't afraid to administer a beatdown. After the lack of lopsided matches for the favorites on the bottom half of the draw yesterday, most of the top half took care of business in decidedly easier fashion. Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova only lost three games, and Marion Bartoli lost only two. I'm sure the tournament organizers who are scrambling to fit matches in appreciate their brevity.
6. Samantha Stosur's success at Eastbourne may have been a mirage. With her enormous serve and forehand, many would assume that grass would be Samantha Stosur's best surface. It has always been the exact opposite, with her kick serve and top spin neutralized by the ball's skidding. When she beat top seed Vera Zvonareva in Eastbourne last week, it seemed like Stosur might have figured this whole grass thing out. But in the first round of Wimbledon today, Stosur fell 6-3, 6-4 at the hands of WTA No. 262 Melinda Czink. As the No. 10 seed, Samantha Stosur becomes the highest seed to crash out of the tournament thus far. Hopefully she gets her confidence back in the American hard court swing, because the WTA is a lot more interesting with her style of play in the mix.
Match results from Day 2 of Wimbledon 2011, where the first round of singles play races against the sun to catch up following almost a solid day lost to rain.
• No. 2 Novak Djokovic def. Jeremy Chardy, 6-4 6-1 6-1. Not much of a show on Centre Court this afternoon, unless you like exhibition bloodbaths. Like Federer earlier today, Djokovic spent his first set seemingly just warming up before turning on the buzzsaw. He'll face the winner of the Kevin Anderson-Illya Marchenko match, currently in progress.
• No. 3 Li Na def. Alla Kudryavtseva, 6-3 6-3. Continuing the theme set by Wozniacki of entirely uncontested matches in the women's draw, Na seems to be adapting her hardcourt game to grass with ease. Her second-round opponent will be either Sabine Lisicki or Anastasja Sevastova.
• No. 5 Maria Sharapova def. Anna Chakvetadze, 6-2 6-1. Sharapova dispatched her creampuff opponent, despite problems with double faults, to actually bring Centre Court play to a close on Tuesday at a decent hour. Next up for the infamously leggy Russian: either Angelique Kerber or Laura Robson.
• No. 5 Robin Söderling def. Philipp Petzschner, 6-4 6-4 2-6 7-6(5). Everybody's favorite grizzled Swede survives a late dramatic tiebreak on Court 1, and advances to take on the other player most likely in this draw to show up with three-day stubble to a major (and thus our other favorite), Lleyton Hewitt.
• John Isner def. Nicolas Mahut, 7-6(4) 6-2 7-6(6). This one was kept mercifully brief; had the match gone on much longer, with the sun sinking fast it would've gone to another overnight delay. We can all move on with our lives now, including Isner, who'll meet another Nicolas, No. 16 Nicolas Almagro of Spain, in Round 2.
Other Tuesday scores from the Top 20 of the men's draw:
• No. 7 David Ferrer def. Benoit Paire, 6-4 6-4 6-4.
• No. 11 Jurgen Melzer def. Alejandro Falla, 3-6 7-6(5) 6-2 6-2.
• No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga def. Soeda Go, 6-3 7-6(4) 6-2.
• No. 13 Viktor Troicki def. Maximo Gonzalez, 3-6 6-0 7-6(3) 6-3.
• No. 15 Gilles Simon def. Edouard Roger-Vasselin, 4-6 6-4 6-3 7-6(3).
• No. 16 Nicolas Almagro def. Jarkko Nieminen, 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4 6-4.
• No. 18 Mikhail Youzhny def. Juan Monaco, 4-6 6-2 6-2 4-6 6-4.
• No. 19 Michael Llodra def. James Ward, 6-3 7-6(4) 6-3.
• No. 20 Florian Mayer def. Daniel Evans, 7-6(5) 7-6(1) 3-6 6-4.
And in the women's Top 20:
• No. 9 Marion Bartoli def. Kristyna Pliskova, 6-0 6-2.
• No. 11 Andrea Petkovic def. Stephanie Foretz Gacon, 6-3 6-4
• No. 14 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova def. Lesia Tsurenko, 6-4 7-6(3).
• No. 18 Ana Ivanovic def. Melanie Oudin, 6-0 6-1.
• No. 20 Peng Shuai def. Kirsten Flipkens, 6-0 6-4.
Elsewhere at the All England Club: 2002 champ Lleyton Hewitt survived a five-set scare against Nishikori Kei, No. 24 Juan Martin Del Potro cruised to a straight-sets win over Flavio Cipolla, No. 21 Fernando Verdasco held off a five-set upset bid by Radek Stepanek, French upstart Alize Cornet fell to Kateryna Bondarenko, No. 22 Alexandr Dolgopolov provided yet another twenty-seed upset with a loss to Fernando Gonzalez, and in the shocker of the tourney so far, No. 10 Samantha Stosur of Australia fell in straight sets to the unseeded Melinda Czink of Hungary.
In American news: James Blake put on a monster of a two-set comeback against No. 32 Marcos Baghdatis before falling in the fifth, 6-4 6-2 6-7(5) 4-6 6-4. Coco Vandeweghe is also out of contention, losing to Eleni Daniilidou. Ryan Harrison, however, advances to Round 2 with a straight-sets win over Croatia's Ivan Dodig, 7-6(5) 6-0 7-5.
Fourteen matches scheduled to occur Tuesday were further pushed back as tournament organizers attempt to catch up to Monday's overlong rain delay; Agnieszka Radwanska, Zheng Jie, Jarmila Gajdosova, Julia Goerges, and Bethanie Mattek-Sands are among the affected players.
Day 3 of Wimbledon 2011 begins play Wednesday, June 21, at 7 a.m. EDT.
John Isner def. Nicolas Mahut 7-6(4), 6-2, 7-6(6). In what has to be considered proof of the Law of Averages, Isner-Mahut II lasted only two hours and three minutes. For those of you who aren't so great at subtraction, that means that the sequel was a full nine hours and two minutes shorter than the record setting eleven hour, five minute encounter the two struggled through in their first round encounter last year at Wimbledon.
Isner got first blood in the match, using some crisp, low passing shots to force Mahut into errors during the first set tiebreak.
With the first set in hand, Isner seemed to take his game to another. Breaking Mahut as if it wasn't something he had previously failed to do sixty-eight times in a row, Isner cruised through the second set 6-2, finishing the set with his second break of the frame.
Things seemed to be turning in the third, though, as Mahut broke Isner in the third game and got out to a 4-2 lead. But Isner broke again, for the third time in the match, and was able to force a tiebreak.
With the tiebreak level at 5-5, Isner struck a magnificent return winner on the line to give himself a minibreak and a match point. But Isner duffed an easy volley into the net, leveling the breaker back at 6-6.
Luckily for all involved, this proved not to prolong the proceedings significantly. On his second match point at 7-6, on his second match point, Isner watched a Mahut forehand sail long, euthanizing what could have been another excruciating ordeal. The pair (who plan to play doubles together in Atlanta in July) embraced at the net, ending this unnecessary epilogue in front of a surprisingly sparse crowd.
Isner's tactics against Mahut had clearly changed since last year. He approached the net far more often in return games, finding sharp, low angles on passing shots that weren't there for him in 2010. Isner's probably wondering now why he couldn't play this well last year. I'm wondering too--it would have saved me from a lot of writing.
John Isner next gets No. 16 Nicolas Almagro, which should be a very winnable match for Isner on grass.
Match results from Day 2 of Wimbledon 2011, where the first round of singles play is racing to a late conclusion after Monday's rain delays.
• No. 3 Roger Federer def. Mikhail Kukushkin, 7-6(2) 6-4 6-2. Look what happens when you deny the Maestro the Monday opener slot on Centre Court! Y'all just made him mad, now. Federer seemed to spend most of the first set in quiet contemplation, easing into the feel of the fresh grass that, for once, he wasn't one of the first players to stride over at the Championships, then hummed his way to the second round with a few well-timed flicks of the wrist. Federer's second-round opponent will be the winner of today's Adrian Mannarino-Conor Niland match.
• No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki def. Arantxa Parra Santonja, 6-2 6-1. Nothing of great import to note here, other than the continuing absurdity of commentators calling this the outset of Wozniacki's quest for her first major. Calling it a re-re-re-re-re-outset would take up too much air time? The world No. 1 will face sentimental French Open favorite Virginie Razzano in Round 2.
Away from the show courts, No. 4 Victoria Azarenka advanced after Magdalena Rybarikova retired with a twisted knee midway through the second set, and former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, now seeded 15th, fell to Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in three sets. In men's upset news, No. 27 Marin Cilic was once again dealt an undignified exit in the first round of a major, upset by Ivan Ljubicic, No. 29 Nikolay Davydenko lost to Bernard Tomic, and No. 23 Janko Tipsarevic retired from his match with Ivo Karlovic with a leg injury. Unseeded Americans Alexa Glatch, Irina Falconi, and Vania King fell to No. 8 Petra Kvitova, Stephanie Dubois, and Petra Martic, respectively.
Andy Roddick def. Andreas Beck 6-4 7-6(6) 6-3. Letting a snarl be his umbrella on Day 2 of Wimbledon 2011, the World No. 8 and top-ranked American in the men's draw powered past Germany's Beck with another strong serving performance (seems to be a theme this morning) that featured 30 aces in three sets. The two were scheduled to play Monday, but were bumped back along with half the other Day 1 matches thanks to persistent rain at the All-England Club.
It wasn't easy going for Roddick, but straight sets is straight sets, and with him coming off injury rehab so recently, a restful afternoon is the best possible outcome. The three-time finalist will have to watch his oft-injured shoulder if he hopes to make a deep run at the Championships.
The week's inclement weather means Roddick will find himself back out on the court tomorrow for his second-round match, where he'll face the winner of this afternoon's Jaroslav Pospisil-Victor Hanescu tilt.
No. 7 Serena Williams def. Aravane Rezai, 6-3 3-6 6-1. For a few minutes there, the 2010 Wimbledon champ was in very real danger of being ousted in the first round of Wimbledon 2011, and given what she termed a "disaster year" for her health, it's little surprise Serena looked off-form at the All England Club today. (Recall that she's played just two matches in competition since taking last year's Wimbledon title.) In the end, it was her greatest weapon -- that monstrous serve -- that powered her through the third set, which upped her ace total for the match to 13.
Serena's steely composure deserted her in her post-match interview, where she broke down in an unheard-of (for her) display of tears, explaining, "I just wanted to win one match here."
Miss Williams The Younger advances to face Romania's Simona Halep, who bested Bojana Jovanovski earlier this morning.
Rain prevented four of our six Day 1 Matches To Watch from finishing (and some from even starting), so consider those bonus recommendations for today. Here are five new picks from the matches originally scheduled to take place on Tuesday, Day 2 of Wimbledon 2011.
1. Robin Soderling (SWE)  vs Philipp Petzschner (GER) -- Third on Court 1 -- Robin Soderling is in a nice section of the draw to do some damage in the second week, but first he's going to have to survive a brutal opening week. Philipp Petzschner held a two sets-to-one lead over Rafael Nadal in the third round of Wimbledon last year, but blinked when it came time to seal the deal. While Petzschner's mind is typically the part of his arsenal that lets him down, he also suffered a back injury in the final of Halle just over a week ago. If he is at 100%, though, this one could be a real scare for Soderling. Prediction: Soderling in 4.
2. John Isner (USA) vs Nicolas Mahut (FRA) -- Fourth on Court 3 -- When the absurd rematch of their absurd epic was announced, it seemed like the only two places the match could be played were on the grand stage of Centre Court, or back on Court 18 where history was made. So I have no idea what inspired the decision to go with Court 3, nor do I understand why it is being scheduled for so late in the day. No, this match isn't going to go 70-68 in the fifth again, nor do I even expect it to go five sets. Isner is simply the much better player of the two, and Mahut's serve is ultimately far more attackable. Of course, I would have said the same thing about this match-up last year. Prediction: Isner in 4.
3. Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR)  vs Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) -- Fourth on Court 6 -- If you like forehands (and really, who doesn't?) this is the match for you. Both have struggled with health problems this year, with Gonzalez especially struggling. Wimbledon will be only the Chilean's fourth tournament of 2011, but should be a good one for him to come back on. The quick surface will keep points short, and his forehand will be able to end a lot of points at will. With Dolgopolov struggling lately, I think there's a pretty good chance for an upset here. Prediction: Gonzalez in 4.
4. Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) -- Fourth on Court 12 -- Lleyton Hewitt, the 2002 Wimbledon champion, is very possibly playing his last ever match at Wimbledon today. Plagued by hip injuries for some time now, Hewitt's clearly on his last legs. He's still an incredible fighter and competitor, but that likely won't be enough against flashy young Japanese Kei Nishikori, whose impatient game seems tailor-made for grass. But if Hewitt can make it a battle of intangibles, I'll always like his odds. Prediction: Nishikori in 4.
5. Ana Ivanovic (SRB)  vs Melanie Oudin (USA) -- Fifth on Court 12 -- Melanie Oudin never seemed comfortable with the attention her stunning run to the quarterfinals of the 2009 US Open brought. And by failing to ever come close to duplicating that performance, the attention the tennis world once paid to Oudin has just about completely gone. But this match presents an interesting opportunity for her to get back in the spotlight. With her consistent counterpunching and ability to find angles, Oudin is precisely the type of opponent that could get Ivanovic off her game most. Ivanovic has lost in the first round of three of the last four slams, and is an abysmal 2-7 in three set matches in 2011. If this one gets close, Oudin has a real shot. But I'm not sure that it will. Prediction: Ivanovic in 2.
Coverage of Day 2 Wimbledon action begins at 7 AM EST on ESPN2 in the US. Stay tuned to this StoryStream for updates as matches are completed.
First-round play continues Tuesday, Day 2 of Wimbledon 2011 at the All England Club, with match coverage beginning at 7 a.m. EDT. Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Caroline Wozniacki, Li Na, and John Isner will all be featured in televised Championships action, in addition to the conclusion of multiple matches held off by rain on Day 1. Today's TV schedule:
• 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. EDT: First-round play (ESPN2)
Scheduled Day 2 matches on Centre Court:
• No. 7 Serena Williams vs. Aravene Rezai
• No. 3 Roger Federer vs. Mikhail Kukushkin
• No. 2 Novak Djokovic vs. Jeremy Chardy
Scheduled matches on Court 1:
• No. 8 Andy Roddick vs. Andreas Beck
• No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki vs. Arantxa Parra Santonja
• No. 5 Robin Söderling vs. Philipp Petzschner
On Court 2:
• No. 21 Fernando Verdasco vs. Radek Stepanek
• No. 4 Victoria Azarenka vs. Magdalena Rybarikova (to finish)
• No. 19 Michael Llodra vs. James Ward
• No. 3 Li Na vs. Alla Kudryavtseva
Top-seeded matches elsewhere include, in the men's field:
• No. 7 David Ferrer vs. Benoit Paire
• No. 11 Jurgen Melzer vs. Alejandro Falla
• No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Soeda Go
• No. 13 Viktor Troicki vs. Maximo Gonzalez
• No. 15 Gilles Simon vs. Edouard Roger-Vasselin (to finish)
• No. 16 Nicolas Almagro vs. Jarkko Nieminen
• No. 18 Mikhail Youzhny vs. Juan Monaco
• No. 20 Florian Mayer vs. Daniel Evans
And in Day 2 action in the women's draw:
• No. 5 Maria Sharapova vs. Anna Chakvetadze
• No. 8 Petra Kvitova vs. Alexa Glatch
• No. 9 Marion Bartoli vs. Kristyna Pliskova
• No. 10 Samantha Stosur vs. Melinda Czink
• No. 11 Andrea Petkovic vs. Stephanie Foretz Gacon (to finish)
• No. 13 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Olga Govortsova
• No. 14 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Lesia Tsurenko
• No. 15 Jelena Jankovic vs. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez
• No. 16 Julia Goerges vs. Anabel Medina Garrigues
• No. 18 Ana Ivanovic vs. Melanie Oudin
Other U.S. players in action today will include John Isner reprising his 2011 first-round clash with Nicolas Mahut (this time on Court 3), No. 30 Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. Doi Misaki, Ryan Harrison vs. Ivan Dodig, Coco Vandeweghe vs. Eleni Daniilidou, Irina Falconi vs. Stephanie Dubois, Vania King vs. Petra Martic, and James Blake vs. No. 32 Marcos Baghdatis.
Stay tuned to this StoryStream for results from Day 2 of Wimbledon 2011 as matches are completed.
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