Breakfast and Wimbledon, Day 5

Peter Macdiarmid

The rain has moved in, the draw has opened up for Sloane Stephens (again) and Britain's best will play under the roof.

Friday Story Lines

1. The effects of carnage. In case you hadn't quite grasped how many big names fell on Wednesday, Friday's Order of Play should do the trick. The second match on Centre Court is Nicolas Almagro v. Jerzy Janowicz. The third match on Court 1 is Viktor Troicki v. Mikhail Youzhny. The fourth match on Court 2 is a doubles match. A funny thing happens when eight former No. 1s lose in the same day: The star power goes with them.

2. Everything seems so orderly on paper. We can marvel at the Friday Order of Play, but that assumes that a full day of tennis will actually be played on Friday.

It always seems so orderly on paper. The first round is played on Monday and Tuesday, the second on Wednesday and Thursday, the third on Friday and Saturday, and then you rest on Sunday. But this is England in late-June. It's going to rain. That we got through three and a half days without delays was a minor miracle, but the rainy chickens have now come home to rainy roost.

With a handful of top-of-the-draw second-round matches still left to either start or complete -- Chardy-Struff, Haas-Wang, Ferrer-Bautista Agut, Giraldo-Dolgopolov, and Demitrov-Zemlja (deep in the fifth set) on the men's side, Robson-Duque-Marino, Riske-U. Radwanska, Kanepi-Kerber on the women's side -- we now have to see how much rain wreaks havoc with the schedule ... and whether playing on Sunday becomes necessary. They don't like to do it at Wimbledon, but they sometimes don't have a choice.

3. Most interesting matches of the day:

  • Laura Robson v. Mariana Duque-Marino (Match No. 1, Centre Court). Thursday's rain delay bumped this back one day and up one court. Robson has had plenty of time to soak in the positive vibes after Tuesday's upset of Maria Kirilenko, and now she's on the most well-known show court in tennis. Win, and she will have an incredibly navigable road to at least the fourth round, and maybe further. No pressure, Laura.
  • Nicolas Almagro [15] v. Jerzy Janowicz [24] (Match No. 2, Centre Court). I kind of mocked the match above because of the lack of proven star power, but make no mistake: these two players benefited from Wednesday's carnage more than any others. The winner of this match could be the favorite to reach the quarterfinals in the Federer region. Almagro has been knocking on the door of the elite for years and has never quite made it through, and while grass is in no way his best surface, this is easily his best opportunity. Meanwhile, Janowicz is a big-serving, fiery, 22-year-old from Poland who announced his presence with a third-round appearance at Wimbledon last year and could be ready for a star turn if he can get past Almagro.
  • Sloane Stephens [17] v. Petra Cetkovska (Match No. 3, Court 3). As always seems to be the case, the draw has broken nicely for Stephens. Instead of a fourth-round match versus Sara Errani and a quarterfinal against Maria Sharapova, her road to the Wimbledon semifinals could instead go through Cetkovska, Errani-conqueror Monica Puig and Marion Bartoli. She could reach the semis without beating a Top-20 (on grass) opponent. Stephens survived a couple of tough tests early versus Jamie Hampton and Andrea Petkovic, and now opportunity is presenting itself.
  • Andy Murray [2] v. Tommy Robredo (Match No. 3, Centre Court). Rain or no rain, Centre Court will house the UK's two brightest tennis hopes. Laura Robson almost certainly isn't going to win Wimbledon (among other things, she would meet Serena Williams in the quarterfinals), but Andy Murray very well may be the favorite on the men's side. He should survive a tussle with the scrappy, interesting Tommy Robredo, but Robredo will make him work. And as we've seen before, the hometown crowd could get awfully tense if Murray were to fall into an early hole.

What I'm Eating

The smoothie I have just about every single morning (when I'm not writing about breakfast and whipping up an incredible waffles, ham and peaches thing for a tennis liveblog). But we'll get to that.

After yesterday's foray into fast food talk, my friend Michael Atchison sent me this new Atlantic piece entitled "How Junk Food Can End Obesity." I recommend checking it out, even though it might lead you to come to the same "Dammit, I don't know what to think anymore" conclusion that I reached about both this and court surfaces in yesterday's liveblog.

If the most-influential voices in our food culture today get their way, we will achieve a genuine food revolution. Too bad it would be one tailored to the dubious health fantasies of a small, elite minority. And too bad it would largely exclude the obese masses, who would continue to sicken and die early. Despite the best efforts of a small army of wholesome-food heroes, there is no reasonable scenario under which these foods could become cheap and plentiful enough to serve as the core diet for most of the obese population—even in the unlikely case that your typical junk-food eater would be willing and able to break lifelong habits to embrace kale and yellow beets. And many of the dishes glorified by the wholesome-food movement are, in any case, as caloric and obesogenic as anything served in a Burger King.

Through its growing sway over health-conscious consumers and policy makers, the wholesome-food movement is impeding the progress of the one segment of the food world that is actually positioned to take effective, near-term steps to reverse the obesity trend: the processed-food industry. Popular food producers, fast-food chains among them, are already applying various tricks and technologies to create less caloric and more satiating versions of their junky fare that nonetheless retain much of the appeal of the originals, and could be induced to go much further. In fact, these roundly demonized companies could do far more for the public’s health in five years than the wholesome-food movement is likely to accomplish in the next 50. But will the wholesome-food advocates let them?

My initial response is that simply looking at things in terms of fat-per-ounce or any other rate like that is misguided because it doesn't take into account how filling something is, but we'll get to that when it's Smoothie Time.

Liveblog

6:30 a.m. ET

I already regret using the Andy Murray Mask picture atop the post. That thing is going to creep me out all day.

6:45 a.m. ET

Yeah, this could be a sparse live blog today.

7:05 a.m. ET

Hannah! It's Hannah Storm! She joins the ESPN booth for the first time this week, which is lovely. She manages the McEnroe and Gilbert personalities well, and it's nice to have her around considering how little live action we might be watching today and how much conversation they might be forced to, well, force.

Pam Shriver is interviewing Federer-conqueror Sergiy Stakhovsky, and ESPN flashed up an incredible stat: in the first two rounds, Stakhovsky has gone serve-and-volley 61 percent of the time. The tournament average in the men's draw? Six percent. At Wimbledon. On grass. Stefan Edberg and Patrick Rafter weep. (And then they go back to their beautiful lives.)

By the way, since we're just killing time, here are the Advanced Baseline grass court rankings for the remaining names in the bottom half of each draw:

Federer Region
12. Nicolas Almagro [15]
30. Benoit Paire [25]
36. Jerzy Janowicz [36]
63. Jurgen Melzer
79. Sergiy Stakhovsky
93. Lukasz Kubot
105. Adrian Mannarino
207. Dustin Brown

Meanwhile, there are four remaining players in the Djokovic Region ranked higher than Almagro: No. 2 Novak Djokovic [1], No. 8 Tomas Berdych [7], No. 9 Tommy Haas [13] and No. 11 Richard Gasquet [9]. Again, Almagro will never, ever have a better opportunity than this. And I'm picking either Paire or Janowicz.

Nadal Region
3. Andy Murray [2]
21. Ernests Gulbis
22. Mikhail Youzhny [20]
24. Juan Monaco [22]
44. Fernando Verdasco
49. Tommy Robredo [32]
57. Viktor Troicki
69. Kenny De Schepper

Murray's road is so, so much easier than Djokovic's at this point.

On the women's side...

Sharapova Region
22. Marion Bartoli [15]
23. Andrea Petkovic
26. Sloane Stephens [17]
48. Christina McHale
53. Petra Cetkovska
111. Karin Knapp
160. Michelle Larcher De Brito
237. Eva Birnerova

It's all there for you, Sloane. Yet again.

Azarenka Region
13. Petra Kvitova [8]
15. Ekaterina Makarova [25]
20. Kirsten Flipkens [20]
34. Carla Suarez Navarro [19]
46. Flavia Pennetta
57. Vesna Dolonc
74. Alize Cornet [29]
77. Eugenie Bouchard

And the player generating the most buzz is the one ranked the lowest.

And now Andy Murray is getting the Tom Rinaldi treatment. Time to go feed the cats and avoid the television for a few minutes.

8:55 a.m. ET

It was going so well. Robson was up, 5-2, on Duque-Marino and served for the set at 5-3. But then she tightened up to a ridiculous level, and on the third break point, Duque-Marino broke.

9:00 a.m. ET

Remember Dimitrov-Zemlja from yesterday? It's back on! After another delay, Dimitrov and Zemlja resume playing ... with Zemlja on match point at 9-8. What a shaky time to have to resume a match. Dimitrov says "SCREW IT" and goes big down the T with his second serve; Zemlja's return clips the net but doesn't go over. We play on. A freshly assertive Dimitrov earns a game point but shanks two straight shots. Another match point for Zemlja ... and he returns a second serve long. Including yesterday's two, Zemlja's had four match points, and he's gotten a second serve from Dimitrov on three of them. And he hasn't won yet. Dimitrov gets sloppy and gives Zemlja another match point, then booms in a serve to save it. And then he finally decides to go and win the game with a big forehand winner. It's 9-9. And every ESPN commentator pronounces "Zemlja" different. I assume one of them is right. It's as hard to say as it is to type, apparently.

9:01 a.m. ET

And Robson breaks back to win the first set, 5-4, as we watch Dimitrov-Zemlja. Okay.

9:05 a.m. ET

Meanwhile, Dimitrov is suddenly confident again. He creates his first break point in about a day ... but like his last 12 break point opportunities, this one goes for naught. Zemlja booms in a big serve wide, and Dimitrov can't get it back. The two are now a combined 3-for-27 on break points. Zemlja goes on to hold. 10-9. Settle in.

9:10 a.m. ET

:-(

9:12 a.m. ET

Dimitrov quickly falls behind on his serve again, and Zemlja gets another match point. Multiple netcords later, Zemlja unleashes an absolutely perfect down-the-line passing shot with Dimitrov at the net. Game, set, match, Zemlja. And I have to continue typing this name.

9:30 a.m. ET

Robson obliterates Duque-Marino, 6-1, in the second set. So that's that. Meanwhile, Kerber took the first set from Kanepi, and Ferrer's serving to close out the first set on Bautista Agut.

10:05 a.m. ET

It feels like Nadal lost to Darcis about a month ago, doesn't it?

10:25 a.m. ET

Okay ... things have changed. Bautista Agut took the second set from Ferrer, and Kanepi came back from 5-2 down in the second-set tie-breaker to even things up with Kerber. Upsets like this would not be of the same magnitude as Federer, Sharapova, or Nadal, but they would shake up a shaken-up pair of brackets even further.

10:35 a.m. ET

As Haas closes out his match, Kanepi goes up 3-0 on Kerber in the third, and Almagro goes up 3-0 on Janowicz in the first ... it's smoothie time!

So I decided to give the gluten-free thing a shot last August. I wasn't gaining weight, but I wasn't losing any, and I was not leaving enough time in my work day for working out, so I figured I'd see how this treated me. I like bread, and I like beer, but there really aren't that many sacrifices you have to make here. (Just double down on bourbon, right?) Drinking a loaded smoothie for breakfast, eating one of those Amy's frozen meals for lunch, eating cashews for rare snacks, using gluten-free flour for any specific flour needs, etc., I dropped about a pound a week for two straight months, and that was even with the SEC road trip and tailgate beers.

I tend to follow rules pretty well. If I know what I can and can't do, and the rules make logical sense to me, I have no problem following those guidelines. I like it, actually. My decision-making is not always amazing food-wise, so the gluten-free thing was working well for me ... right up until I had the following thought: Am I losing weight because of gluten-free, or am I losing weight simply because I'm having a ridiculously nutritious breakfast, not snacking very much, and drinking less beer? As soon as that passed through my ears, the diet was over. I kept doing the smoothies, and I didn't do as much in the beer category, but I went right back to the bread and whatnot. And despite actually working in a steady workout routine (4-5 days a week since February) I've gained back every pound that I lost in those two months.

So yeah, there might be something to this gluten free thing. Might have to go back to it ... at least, after my trip to food heaven Oklahoma next week

What's in the smoothie, by the way? A cup of milk, a spoonful of flax, protein powder, psyllium, a spoonful of peanut butter, a boatload of blueberries, and a little yogurt. It's a pretty calorie-heavy drink, but it also prevents me from snacking,

10:50 a.m. ET

And in about 30 minutes, Kanepi has finished off Kerber, 6-3, in the third. Kerber will probably drop out of the top 10 (she made the semis at Wimbledon last year, so she has a lot of points on the line ... because as we know, things that happened 51 weeks ago matter a ton, and things that happened 53 weeks ago don't matter at all when it comes to ranking players), and Laura Robson's road to Serena just got even smoother.

11:10 a.m. ET

Overload! Almagro and Janowicz just entered a first-set tie-breaker on Centre Court, Ferrer and Bautista Agut are tied at 2-2 in the third-set tiebreaker, and American Alison Riske and Urszula Radwanska are on about Deuce #15 (okay, Deuce #5) with Radwanska serving at 4-5 in the final set. Riske tracks down a drop shot and clips the net on a winner to earn a second match point...

...and bombs a backhand winner down the line wide. Deuce #6. A backhand winner down the line lands in on the next point ... third match point ...

...and after a long rally, the Younger Radwanska can't get a backhand back, and Riske, a 22-year old from Pittsburgh, is on to the third round. Nice.

And Ferrer takes the third-set tie-breaker, 7-4...

And Janowicz and Almagro are even at 6-6 in the first-set tie-break. Again ... overload!

11:15 a.m. ET

Janowicz earns another set point with a nice drop shot and hard volley combination, then finishes it off with a forehand winner. He was a break down, and now he's a set up.

Oh yeah, and Jurgen Melzer just went up two sets to one on Federer conqueror Sergiy Stakhovsky.

11:40 a.m. ET

I'm not sure I understand, but it sounds like smack, and I like smack.

11:50 a.m. ET

With a killer passing shot, Melzer takes down Stakhovsky in four sets. Like Rosol in 2012, and like Darcis earlier this year, the giant killer couldn't win another match. Killing giants tends to take a lot out of you. And Ferrer closes down Bautista Agut; it wasn't easy, but he wins, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 7-5.

12:15 p.m. ET

Man oh man, Janowicz serving to try to finish off a straight-set win over Almagro. This would be an absolutely enormous win for the young Pole. He was super-tight at the start, but he's been on his game ever since. He tightens up and falls behind, 15-30, but destroys two serves to earn a match point, then knocks out an ace to finish off the win. Really, really, really impressive. Patrick McEnroe says he has a "little bit of Goran Ivanisevic" in him, and that's pretty much perfect. Huge serve and a temper.

12:30 p.m. ET

And the rain starts to come down. Kvitova and Makarova are tied at 3-3, Bartoli's up a set on Giorgi but down a break in the second. Stephens is down a break, 2-3, in the first. Suarez Navarro whipped Bouchard, and apparently I missed a good time with Larcher De Brito down a set and a break:

Hate it when I miss that.

12:50 p.m. ET

WHAT.

I mean ... Kerber? You got that mad about Angelique Kerber? How much money did you have on that match, anyway?

1:30 p.m. ET

So ... the cancellations have begun.

Looks like Murray-Robredo is all we're getting today. And Murray just took the first set, 6-2, by the way.

1:45 p.m. ET

With Murray going all Terminator on Robredo (he immediately went up a break in the second set), the conversation between Chris Fowler and John McEnroe has shifted away from actual tennis and to Murray's fun challenge of Serena Williams yesterday. On learning that the media guide listed Serena at 5'9, 150, McEnroe responded with "Well, she's not 150. That's all I'm saying." Hilarity. Stupid hilarity, but hilarity. This match needs a little.

1:55 p.m. ET

Some reading material from when this match becomes boring (okay, it did a while ago): SBN's (!) David Roth on Serena, Kanye, greatness, and other stuff.

The closest most of us will get is a few moments at the edge of the full-body grace in which genius athletes exist when they're at work and at their best.

This can be a brief and blissful portion of a pick-up game in which things go spacious and slow, and shots rise and fall. It could be a fleeting chilly calm of still and absolute certainty that visits you in a batter's box, or on a soccer field or tennis court or golf course or even with a video game controller in your hand. […]

But it's good, too -- if invariably a little bit of a comedown -- to return to ourselves. It would be exhausting and addictive and corrosive to feel so close to perfect all the time, if only because we're not built to be perfect or even all that close to it. We get to touch it, but we don't get to keep it.

To believe that you belong in that state of ungovernable, unceilinged grace -- every utterance a blameless little transcendence, every movement beautiful and true -- is to make yourself into sort of a monster and sort of a joke. You wind up smug and strange and somehow off, a little pouting god imperiously issuing non-apologies for what you can't quite believe are mistakes. You wind up weird, in other words, and not necessarily happy.

You wind up like Serena Williams, or Kanye West.

I made eight straight 3's in a pickup basketball game one time. I'm not sure if I've played a pickup game since then. Retire on top, you know.

(Cool story, bro.)

2:00 p.m. ET

HOPE!

2:10 p.m. ET

And now they're discussing why Robredo's wearing a watch on the court. Yeah, Murray's still up comfortably.

2:15 p.m. ET

That almost got interesting. A couple of sloppy points from Murray and a killer return from Robredo got the Spaniard a break point that would have evened the set at 5-5. And then Murray destroyed a serve out wide, hit a couple of winners, and took the set. He was human for a second there, but he's been a robot for about 98 percent of this match.

2:20 p.m. ET

Pretty sure McEnroe just suggested that Murray lose the third set so he can get some more work in. What could go wrong??

2:55 p.m. ET

Pretty sure Robredo couldn't have played the third set any better ... and he just got broken at 5-5. Murray will serve for the match. Meanwhile, things have picked back up on the outdoor courts. Kvitova took the first set from Makarova, Stephens broke back and is at 5-5 with Cetkovska in the first, Bartoli is up a set and 6-5 (on serve) over Giorgi, Mannarino took the first set from Dustin Brown, Birnerova is up early on Puig, and racket crusher Larcher De Brito is still down a break in the second.

3:00 p.m. ET

Merciless. Murray quickly earns three match points on his serve, Robredo saves one with a gorgeous passing shot, but he can't save a second. Murray wins, 6-2, 6-4, 7-5.

3:10 p.m. ET

Stephens does some magnificent scrambling to go up 3-1 in the first-set tiebreaker, then holds on to close it out. Meanwhile, Bartoli won, so the favorites (or the closest things to it) from the lower half of the bracket are all doing well. (Well, Kvitova did just go do a break in the second...)

3:25 p.m. ET

And Sloane quickly falls asleep and goes down 0-3 in the second set. Like I said ... doing well! Cliff Drysdale casually talks about Bjorn Borg's concentration levels early in his career; Cliffy has been around for-freaking-ever. I love Cliffy.

3:30 p.m. ET

An Easter egg for the three people still reading: This might be the most underrated Nintendo game of all-time.

The gameplay wasn't exactly amazing, but this game had tournaments and points and rankings and a qualifier tournament and a bunch of things that blew my mind and seemed so totally realistic when I was 11. This game had almost as big an impact on me as Tecmo Bowl.

Oh yeah, and both Stephens and Kvitova have run off the rails. Kvitova dropped the second set, 6-2, and Stephens is down 4-0.

3:35 p.m. ET

Make that 6-0. Stephens and Kvitova, the second and third betting favorites at this point, are looking as listless as possible as daylight fades. Now that I've said that, they will each win 6-2 third sets, I'm sure.

3:40 p.m. ET

Dreamcrusher Friday. Dustin Brown goes down with little resistance to Adrian Mannarino, as have pretty much everybody who pulled upsets on Wednesday. And while Stephens-Cetkovska has been postponed due to darkness, Kvitova-Makarova has not ... and Kvitova's already down another break. Kvitova's basically the pre-Bakula quarterback from Necessary Roughness right now:


Necessary Roughness (Theatrical Trailer) by NakedBrotha2007


BLOW THE WHISTLE! BLOW THE WHISTLE!

3:50 p.m. ET

They blew the whistle! Kvitova narrowly avoids a second break, then play is called for the day. Makarova will serve at 2-1 in the third tomorrow, and Birnerova will serve at 2-1, up a break, in the second against Puig.

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