Day 4: Muguruza and Ferrer Out, Nishikori Survives Scare
Rafa Nadal’s absence through injury has been balanced out by the fact that Spain is still basking in the glory of Garbine Muguruza’s magnificent French Open victory over Serena Williams.
Unfortunately, Muguruza was also a casualty on Day 4 as she lost 6-3, 6-2 to Jana Cepelova of Slovakia. It shows just how difficult it is to win the French and then do well at Wimbledon too.
You can usually bet your bottom dollar that Ferrer will make it to the second week at any Slam – but not this time. Seed number 13 was unlucky for Ferrer, who was comprehensively defeated.
Mahut took the match 6-1, 6-4, 6-3, ending Ferrer’s ordeal with a casual volley and a fist pump. It was a notable scalp for the man most famous for losing the longest match in Wimbledon history to John Isner.
Fifth seed Kei Nishikori might even have joined Ferrer at the early exit door, had he not woken up in time to overcome a massive underdog in Julien Benneteau.
But in the end the Japanese star’s class shone through and he managed to dig himself out of what had looked like an increasingly dangerous situation.
Nishikori carelessly surrendered the first set with some unnecessary mistakes at key moments. A loose forehand went wide as he served to stay in the set at 4-5. Benneteau kept the pressure on the favourite until deuce and then earned himself a set point.
A strong forehand encouraged Nishikori into the net but Benneteau countered with a clever cross-court pass. Desperately, Nishikori shaped to volley but spooned his effort beyond the baseline – and in that instant he knew he had lost the set.
Kei was soon in trouble in set two as well. The Asian hero was 1-2 and 0-30 behind. He sighed, looked to the skies, and generally seemed out of sorts. Then he knuckled down and served his way out of trouble. Was this a turning point?
Indeed it was. At 3-3 Nishikori put tremendous pressure on the Benneteau serve and eventually the European crumbled. Kei had the break he needed to get right back into the match and won the second set 6-4. The momentum back with the favourite, Nishikori took the last two sets 6-4, 6-2.
Another popular player, the legendary Venus Williams, prevailed in an entertaining three-setter against Maria Sakkari, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. We should all cherish Venus while we still can at Wimbledon.
But Heather’s fellow Brit Dan Evans won through 7-6, 6-4, 6-1 against Alexandr Dolgopolov to set up what promises to be another mouthwatering clash between Roger Federer and an underdog Englishman.
Once again Federer will have to play the pantomime baddie – although frankly he is far too loved and revered for that label to stick for long.
In fact, don’t be surprised if some Brits choose to support the Fed against their own man if the world’s most elegant player, still building back towards full fitness, finds himself in trouble at any stage against the battling Brummie.
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