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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wimbledon: First Round Follies and Fortune

For some high class players, like Sharapova and Wozniacki, the first round of Wimbledon was as straightforward as they could hope, but the first two days were also full of upsets and surprises as a handful of unsuspecting players dropped the hammer on their top seed match-ups. A few big names managed to dodge what looked like deadly bullets, securing victory in three sets, but that wasn't the case for everyone. Here's a quick look at the ups and downs of Wimbledon days one and two.

Going the Distance
Serena Williams, Francesca Schiavone and Vera Zvonareva are the three most notable names to have prevailed through tough first round matches. Williams had to pick apart the quick strokes of Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai, a player who knocked out Venus Williams the previous year in Madrid. At the end of her match, Serena burst into tears of joy, releasing the emotion that comes with an arduous year of pain and recuperation. Zvonareva overcame America's Alison Riske in a stunner match that showcased Vera's newfound mental toughness. And last Schiavone proved she was not just a clay court player, carving through the grass as confidently as the dirt after dropping a 1-6 set to Dokic who seemed to have a firm grasp on victory.

Early Exits
Jelena Jankovic and Sam Stosur were two of the biggest upsets of the first day, falling meekly to Martinez-Sanchez and Czink in devastating first round losses. While Stosur has lost in the first round of Wimbledon 5 out of 9 years, Jankovic's loss was more of a shock. The Serbian has not lost in the first round of a major since 2004. Perhaps this is just a side effect of falling out of the top 10 for the first time in years?

Peer also took a first round loss, though I suppose that's not too far-fetched. She also exited in the first round of the French Open and has had little success on court since her beat-down by Wickmayer at Indian Wells.

Kanepi, too, was at the mercy of a fiery first round opponent, though she has a bit of an excuse—she was playing against Sara Errani, a player who often plays much better than she is ranked. Regardless, the  no. 17 seed should have won her match and will be kicking herself as she watches the rest of Wimbledon from the sideline.

The biggest feel-good story upset of the day came from Chrisina McHale of the United States. After losing the first set 2-6 against no. 28 seed Makarova, she settled down to take the second set in style at 6-1. The third set, however, would be a different story. Both players were rattled and nervous and it was a true grind to the finish line. McHale raised her game however, and edged forward at 7-6, before closing the match out with an 8-6 third set triumph.

For full results, check out DAY 1 and DAY 2.

-Kedzie Teller, ITB Senior Editor


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