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Wimbledon 2010 diary: the longest day


 

Originally published on: 22/06/10 11:18

Long Play

Novak Djokovic might hail a Serbian victory two minutes from time on Wednesday evening when his countrymen face Australia in the World Cup, but he looked anything but jubilant to be entering the record books after finally beating Olivier Rochus 4-6 6-2 3-6 6-4 6-2 under the lights of the closed Centre Court roof in a match that finished at 10.58pm – two minutes short of the All England Club’s agreed curfew to keep the local residents onside – for Wimbledon latest ever finish. Aptly, the record fell on the longest day of the year.

Djokovic wasn’t the only top-five player put through the mill in his opening match. Defending champion Roger Federer briefly looked like making history for all the wrong reasons before winning from two sets down for just the sixth time in his career against Alejandro Falla. Shortly afterwards, Nikolay Davydenko finally secured a place in the second round after defeating Kevin Anderson 6-3 7-6(3) 6-7(3) 5-7 9-7. The No.7 seed, who has played very little since the spring because of his fractured left wrist, certainly racked up some serious court time with this match which lasted four fours and fifteen minutes, the final set taking 66 minutes to complete.

Clijsters’ secure line

Court 2, which opened for business at last year’s Championships, had a distinctly antipodean atmosphere yesterday – not least because the green and gold army was in good voice to see Lleyton Hewitt open his account with a 5-7 6-0 6-2 6-2 win over Maximo Gonzalez after Bernard Tomic, the youngest player in the men’s draw, had been ousted by the in-form Mardy Fish 6-3 7-6(8) 6-2.

The boutique venue was also home to honourary Aussie Kim Clijsters for her comfortable 6-0 6-3 victory over Italy’s Maria Elena Camerin. Given this is her first year back after four years away from the All England Club the Belgian admitted: “I had to find my way to get there a little bit. Luckily the security guard knew where we were going, because actually I had no idea.”

Take a bow, Dustin Brown

It may have been only Saturday when Jamaica’s Dustin Brown contested the final of the Boodles Challenge at Stoke Park, where he was defeated in straight sets 6-3 6-4 by his great friend Gael Monfils, but today the player with the groovy hair and forehand slice was out after the first round, beaten by the No.16 seed Austrian Jurgen Meltzer 6-3 4-6 6-2 6-3. It’s always a shame to see a character depart their first Championships, but tennishead hopes the Germany-based 25-year-old will be back next year.

Le football Mademoiselle

After Marion Bartoli’s 6-3 6-4 defeat of Julia Goerges, the English-speaking press fired three questions at her – all about football. Judging by the length of her answers, she didn’t mind talking about the melodrama of her nation’s World Cup meltdown rather than the tennis, although her answer to the first question was “I think here it’s Wimbledon, it’s the tennis and I don’t really want to speak about soccer.”

But she then went on to discuss Nicolas Anelka, who has of course packed his bags and left his teammates in South Africa. “As a sportsperson I can understand sometimes when you want to do well and you can’t achieve it is very frustrating.” But today, on the tennis court Mlle Bartoli had only to celebrate her win.

By any means

You’d have to have been hiding under a rock (or working very hard!) not to be aware that defending champ, Roger Federer opened this year’s Championships on Centre Court with a five set match against world No.86 Alejandro Falla, which he eventually won 5-7 4-6 6-4 7-6(1) 6-0. In his post match press conference Federer articulated why we all found this match so surprising.

“For me, it’s not normal to be down two sets to love, especially at Wimbledon and early on in Grand Slams. It’s something I’m not quite used to” – nor are we – “but still I was able to find a way. That’s most important right now. Doesn’t matter how I felt out there. Didn’t feel great, that’s for sure.”

We’ve all been there, Roger. Thing is, you’ve been places in tennis that none but a select few ever have, or ever will.

Liquid assets

Noted with interest: a glass of Pimm’s No.1 is on sale for a fiver, or a jug for £20. Judging by the size of the queue, the quintessential Wimbledon drink is still in great demand this year. May be something to do with all the goodness in the fruit it comes served with.

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