Expected Upsets

Wimbledon, Second Round

If an upset is not unexpected, is it still an upset? If a defective seed tumbles in the forest, does anyone really give a toss? If that’s too philosophical: if Stanislas Wawrinka is handcarted out of Wimbledon in three sets by Simone Bolelli, should we feign surprise? How about Fernando Verdasco going out in four sets to Robin Haase? Juan Ignacio Chela out in three sets to Alex Bogomolov Jr, including a bagel? They were all seeds, and the rankings differential was in each case profound, but surely no one expected any of these guys to go deep. Presumably they could have won, and no one would have minded much, but if they had to go out, it might as well be now.

Concerning the seeds of whom anything was realistically expected, none were troubled at all. Nadal, Berdych, Murray, Roddick, Monfils, Fish and Gasquet dropped a single set between them. Of the seeds for whom great things were hoped, perhaps unrealistically – Milos Raonic – the news is rather less encouraging. Up an early break against Gilles Muller, he slipped and tumbled heavily, and could not continue. Muller, ranked a terrifying 92, will now face Nadal in the third round. Much ado is being made of the fact that Muller is the last player other than Federer to defeat Nadal at Wimbledon, notwithstanding that it happened back in 2005, when Muller was in his prime and Nadal was in his adolescence. I am wearily reminded of Federer’s quarterfinal with Mario Ancic in 2006, which generated ludicrous hype based on the Croat being the last man to defeat the mighty Swiss at at the All England Club four years earlier. Displaying no patience for such foolishness, Federer saw him off in three very straight sets. Expect Nadal to inflict similar treatment on Muller.

Hopefully the tournament will kick into gear tonight, with Soderling and Hewitt headlining. The Australian broadcaster is keenly spruiking its merits. Their head-to-head is essentially meaningless, given both players boast such radically segmented careers. Since Soderling became Soderling, and since Hewitt stopped being Hewitt, they’ve split a pair of encounters, but have never met on grass. Even without Channel 7 telling me so, I suspect Hewitt has a chance.

For now enjoy this excellent article on Roger Federer. For the Federer faithful, here’s a guy who gets it.

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