Alastair Grant/Associated Press
Alastair Grant/Associated Press
WIMBLEDON, England – Count `em: 7 seconds.
That’s how long French Open runner-up Sara Errani “played” at Wimbledon on Wednesday against qualifier CoCo Vandeweghe of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. – enough time to wrap up a 6-1, 6-3 victory in the first round.
How’s that possible? Because action was suspended by rain a night earlier, with the 10th-seeded Errani at match point as the 132nd-ranked Vandeweghe served.
When they resumed, after the customary several-minute warmup ritual of baseline strokes, volleys, overheads and serves, Vandeweghe tossed up a ball and hit it into the net. Moments later, she hit her second serve into the net, too, to complete the double-fault that ended the match, right then and there – leaving both women smiling and spectators guffawing. Errani joined in the laughter as she packed away her racket bag and kept right on giggling during her news conference.
Asked by an Italian reporter to recount what happened, Errani said: “There’s not much to tell.”
Asked by another whether she’d bothered to take a shower, Errani assured him she planned to later.
“I had talked to my coach to plan what I wanted to do in the match,” Errani said, “but there was no need.”
All in all, it exactly was the sort of unusual happening that Day 3 kept producing in what’s shaping up as a wet and wild week at the All England Club.
Another: Prince Charles visited his nation’s most famous tennis club, something he hadn’t done in 42 years.
Four of the top 13 seeded women were sent packing Wednesday, including 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur, 2011 French Open champion Li Na and former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki.
The fifth-seeded Stosur’s 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 loss to 72nd-ranked Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands means Australia will have zero men or women in the third round for the first time since 1939.
“It’s a pretty woeful performance by all of us,” said Stosur, the last of nine Australians in the tournament.
Wozniacki, who hadn’t departed any Grand Slam tournament in the first round in more than five years, blew two match points in the second set and was beaten 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-4 by 37th-ranked Tamira Paszek of Austria. It was the first match of the fortnight played with the Centre Court’s retractable roof closed.
“I had over two years where I was winning these matches,” said No. 7 Wozniacki, who is dating 2011 U.S. Open golf champion Rory McIlroy and is still seeking her first major title. “I feel lately it’s going the other way a little bit. It’s not the first match this year where I have match points and not winning. You know, it’s frustrating.”
No. 11 Li lost to 52nd-ranked Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-3, 6-4 in a second-round match, and 13th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova was beaten by 31st-ranked Klara Zakopalova of Czech Republic 6-4, 6-1 in the first round.
Adding to the anything-can-happen vibe, at least for the better part of an hour, No. 1 Maria Sharapova trailed 38th-ranked Tsvetana Pironkova throughout the first set, fended off five set points and was ahead 7-6 (3), 3-1 when their second-round match was suspended by darkness.
That was one of four singles matches halted in progress, while four others entirely were postponed, adding to the backlog created by showers.
Before the rain came, Prince Charles sat in the Royal Box at Centre Court, watching six-time champion Roger Federer stumble once and awkwardly tweak his left knee but otherwise easily reach the third round by beating 68th-ranked Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-1, 6-3, 6-2.
“I’m fine. No pain, which is good,” Federer said. “It could be dangerous with the left knee. I’m happy it was only basically a bruise to the ground and not anything in the knee itself.”
Federer and Fognini offered slightly stilted bows on their way off the court. Afterward, Federer chatted with and the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall for a few minutes, discussing tennis, polo and Federer’s young twin daughters.
“They do brief you beforehand,” said Federer, owner of a record 16 major championships but none in the last 2½ years. “I guess you don’t do anything stupid. You behave. Obviously we were asked to bow, which is obviously no problem to do.”
He said the royals “thought I played great ... which was unnecessary, but of course, I do appreciate it.”
His performance was hardly out of the ordinary, of course. Nor was the 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory turned in by top-seeded and defending champion Novak Djokovic against 20-year-old American Ryan Harrison under the roof in the day’s last match. Or straight-set wins by Andy Roddick to reach the second round and Kim Clijsters to get to the third.
Djokovic’s second-round match against Harrison actually was much tighter than the score implies. Each man hit eight aces. Djokovic had one more winner, 31-30, and one more unforced error, 15-14. What made the difference? Djokovic converted 3 of 3 break points, and Harrison went 0 for 6.
“I was in trouble in the second set,” Djokovic said. “It could have easily gone the other way.”
But there were other interesting happenings.
Heather Watson, a British player ranked 103rd, became the first woman from the tournament’s host country to reach the third round since 2002 by eliminating Jamie Hampton of the United States 6-1, 6-4.
Sloane Stephens, an unseeded 19-year-old American making her main-draw debut at the All England Club, saved five set points in the opener and wound up eliminating No. 23 Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-3. In the third set, Stephens was behind love-30 in four consecutive service games, before coming back to win each of them.
“I do still have some lapses,” she said. “They’re less now than I used to have in the past. I really don’t get as upset when I lose points now. I’m not that emotional anymore.”
No. 21-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada needed only slightly longer than Errani to finish off his rain-interrupted victory, coming back after a night’s sleep to take the one game he was missing for a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Santiago Giraldo of Colombia. Raonic is scheduled to face Sam Querrey of the United States in the second round Thursday.
Errani is supposed to back out there Thursday, too, facing Anne Keothavong of Britain.
Seems safe to say Errani will need to put in a little more time and effort on court – weather permitting, of course.
Kristy Wigglesworth/Associated Press