He’s a popular player and many will be disappointed at his early demise at this year’s Championships. The gentle giant from Argentina, Juan Martin del Potro, who has made a dramatic return to the game following years off for surgery to his wrists and become an outsider for this year’s title, crashed out in the second round.
I played well in my first-round match. This match I played really, really great tennis. I served well, I returned well. In my opinion, Del Potro is one of the best players. I mean, for sure he has one of the best forehands. He's really tough to beat Ernest Gulbis
The match was halted for 25-minute during the second set for a woman who was suffering from the heat with temperatures hitting the 30 degree mark for her to receive treatment from medical staff before being stretchered off. During that time it was Del Potro who ensured she rehydrated by passing up a water bottle through the crowd. It was another gesture of his consideration which was seen when he comforted the injured Nicolas Almagro when he retired hurt at the French Open.
On this occasion he lost to Ernest Gulbis, a rather controversial figure from Latvia and a former top ten player, who has sunk down to 589 in world terms thanks to a series of injuries to his shoulder as well as problems with his right wrist and left calf.
In many ways the unpredictable Gulbis pulled off a major surprise when he sent DelPo home 6-4 6-4 7-6(3) to draw level at 3 wins apiece in their head-to-heads as well as becoming the lowest ranked player to beat him.
While it was a below par performance from the Argentine, it was the Latvian’s best in years and he now goes on to face a more formidable opponent in the shape of Novak Djokovic, the three time former champion, who in turn, turned in a positive display to dismiss the Czech Adam Pavlasek 6-2 6-2 6-1.
“It’s very satisfying,” Gulbis said of his win. “I found out yesterday that it [his first round victory] was my first win in 13 months on a tour level, in a main draw. I won one challenger match and I won one qually match in Rotterdam. In the main draw, it was for a long time.
“I played well in my first-round match. This match I played really, really great tennis. I served well, I returned well. In my opinion, Del Potro is one of the best players. I mean, for sure he has one of the best forehands. He’s really tough to beat.”
As mentioned, Gulbis will now have to face Novak Djokovic in the next round, the Serb having cruised past the world No.136 out on No.1 Court, and reaching the third round. Last year of course, he was knocked out by Sam Querrey in round two out on the second main show court when he wasn’t at his best. This year he is putting in some excellent performances.
However a time violation issued by the chair umpire in the fifth game for taking too long between points, something which he is becoming more and more prone to do, resulted in one spectator hailing loudly the penalty as being long overdue which rather incensed the Serb who then dropped a point to give his opponent a break opportunity. He recovered to hold and then held his racket to his ear in an “I can’t hear you” gesture to the crowd.
Djokovic explained the incident in his post-match press conference: “I try to be always very open and very honest to myself, to everyone around, and I just don’t like it when somebody comes to the stands with intention to just provoke and just, you know, intentionally cheer against and just say certain things that are not right when you’re close picking up the towel,” he said.
“I just feel that’s not appropriate. It’s not in the spirit of the sport.
“As long as everything is within the spirit of supporting, let’s say, appropriate, I would say energy of supporting the certain player, whether you like me or not, I mean, that’s completely up to them, and I respect that.
“It’s just someone that comes and just continuously tries to do something is not really appropriate. It’s not acceptable for me.
“So I have no problem to confront anyone, because I will not allow anyone to do something that is not right.”
Speaking about the spirit of the sport, Bernard Tomic’s outburst earlier this week when he admitted to being bored by the game and having feigned an injury to disrupt play by calling for the trainer, has resulted in him receiving a £11,600 fine from the ITF, the second largest issued since 1991. He has also been dropped by his racket sponsor, Head, who issued a statement on their website which read: “We were extremely disappointed with the statements made at Wimbledon by one of our sponsored athletes, Bernard Tomic.
“His opinions in no way reflect our own attitude for tennis, our passion, professionalism and respect for the game. Therefore, we have decided to discontinue our collaboration with Bernard Tomic.”
Another player who has attracted the displeasure of the authorities was Russia’s Daniil Medvedev who following disputes with the chair umpire is his five-set loss to Ruben Bemelmans, tossed coins at the feet of the umpires chair.
Chair umpire Mariana Alves had handed him an official warning and deducted a point during the match but despite his apology during the post-match press conference, was handed a $4,000 fine for the warning, another $3,000 for his penalty point and a further $7,500 fine for his conduct!
In other action, John Isner was the only major name to suffer a loss. The 23rd 6’7” seed was brought down to size by the diminutive Dudi Sela, the 5’9” Israeli, 6-7(5) 76-6(5) 5-7 7-6(5) 6-3.
All the other seeds, apart from Paolo Lorenzi progressed into the next round.
There was however, a major incident out on Court 17 when Bethanie Mattek-Sands crashed to the ground and badly injured her ankle. While falling she cried out in pain, screaming for help while writhing in agony.
She had just started her third set against Romanian Sorana Cirstea and was moving towards the net for a volley when her right knee collapsed.
The American needed oxygen and 20-minutes of medical treatment on the court before being taken away by stretcher into an ambulance and hospital.
“It was heartbreaking to see her that way,” said a horrified Cirstea. “I saw she was on the floor. Then she started screaming. I went over, I saw her knee out. I think everyone froze. I turned around and told them to bring a stretcher.
“She went into shock. It took a while until the medical team was there. For a long time it was me, her husband and my physio. Her knee was in a very weird position. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
At the time of the incident the score stood at 4-6 7-6(4) in favour of the Romanian.
Mattek-Sands, with doubles partner Lucie Safarova, were going for a calendar Grand Slam having won both the Australian and French Open titles but that will now have to be put on hold for another year as the tennis world await news of the injury.
For the present the tennis world wishes her a speedy recovery from what was an horrendous incident.