LONDON – The top men, except Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, at Wimbledon found a way to the round of 16 without too many struggles. Well, except for defending US Open champion Marin Čilič, who took over a day to eliminate American John Isner. The only American male left standing is wild card Denis Kudla, ranked 105 in the world, who will Čilič next week.
Yes. A male wild card is America’s last hope in the game’s greatest tournament. But his play should give the country hope. He defeated Pablo Cuevas, seeded 28, in the first round, Alexander Zverev in the second round, and Santiago Giraldo in the third. They are not easy matches, but he fights and finds a way to win.
But Čilič’s used to these long matches! After four hours and 31 minutes, he won when Isner double faulted. He was up three – love, but next thing he knew it was in a tiebreak and called for the night:
Well, honestly, after the match I was, you know, a little bit upset definitely with the fifth‑set outcome. I was a break up there, and it gave John a chance to come back even though he played well.
But I was the one that was always, you know, putting more danger on him and putting more pressure on him. And, you know, to finish the day on even score, you know, after such long match we played, it was not the best scenario for me.
He also had something to say about Kudla, who could step on his toes and cause more problems:
I have practiced with Denis a few times. Actually even last year on grass we practiced few times. We never played, but I know that he’s capable of playing really, really well, especially on grass and some faster courts.
For me, you know, it was a surprise that he even beat Giraldo yesterday, so definitely a player to watch who can be dangerous.
Viktor Troicki, seeded 22, ended qualifier Dustin Brown’s run at Wimbledon. Brown defeated Rafael Nadal on Thursday. He defeated Nadal by throwing the two-time Wimbledon champion off his game. The tactic did not work with Troicki, who remained sharp and focused while protecting his serve. When it gets this deep into the tournament, the serve becomes more important. Brown acknowledges that:
I think that all the matches are always different. It’s a complete different game against Viktor. First of all, he served really well, he put a lot of returns in, especially in the important parts of the match.
In the beginning I had some chances on his serve. Maybe if I break there, maybe I was a little bit too passive, been a little bit more aggressive, would have broken, would have been a different match. But it wasn’t.
He played great. With his game, the way he was serving, especially in the tiebreak, I mean, I can do what I want, this guy had four aces and one service winner in the tiebreak, I’m most likely not going to win the tiebreak.
Roberto Bautista Agut, seeded 20, survived an early scare against Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili. Both players remained strong in the first set, protecting their serve, and putting in their first serves. But it was too much for the qualifier. Agut took over in the tiebreak, bageled Basilashvili in the second set, and flew through the third set.
Tomas Berdych, the sixth seed, survived after a four set match against Pablo Andujar after he lost the first set. He shook off the cobwebs, bageled Andujar in the second set, and breezed through the third. But Andujar found like in the fourth set and scared Berdych again. However, he lost all his wind in the tiebreak.
Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils battled it out on Court 1 until the sun disappeared on the horizon. Simon led two sets to one, but also trailed 2-1 in the fourth set when the match was moved. Officials restarted the match under the Wimbledon roof and allowed spectators to sit anywhere they desired except the Royal Box. It was the perfect atmosphere for Monfils, who thrives when the environment is electric and loud. The showman grabbed the fourth set to force a fifth. But it was all he could handle as Simon buzzed to an easy 6-2 victory in the set and advance to the fourth round.
Sunday is Middle Sunday, which means no play. Matches resume on Monday with Venus Williams against Serena Williams on Center Court.