WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND (AP) - No matter what happens in Week 2, this Wimbledon will be remembered.
Most of all, for 11-time major champion Rafael Nadal’s second-round defeat to a player ranked 100th _ a player who also lost two days later.
“This is not against Rafa, but it was nice to see it’s still possible,” Roger Federer said. “I think 15 years ago, you had matches like this so much more often on the faster surfaces, that a guy could catch fire and just run through you. Today, it’s virtually impossible.”
As action was set to resume Monday with all 16 men’s and women’s fourth-round matches after the middle Sunday’s traditional day off, this much was certain: There will be a first-time Wimbledon men’s finalist.
It could be No. 4 Andy Murray, who lost in the semifinals each of the past three years, including to Nadal in 2010 and 2011. Or No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a semifinalist last year.
Monday’s matchups on the bottom half of the draw: Murray vs. No. 16 Marin Cilic, Tsonga vs. No. 10 Mardy Fish, 126th-ranked qualifier Brian Baker vs. No. 27 Philipp Kohlschreiber, and No. 7 David Ferrer vs. No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion who is the only member of that eight-man group with a Grand Slam title on his resume.
On the top half, Djokovic _ seeking to win his fifth title in the last seven majors _ and Federer _ aiming for a record-tying seventh Wimbledon championship _ are on course for a semifinal showdown.
The fourth-round pairings: Djokovic vs. Viktor Troicki, Federer vs. Xavier Malisse, No. 18 Richard Gasquet vs. No. 31 Florian Mayer, and No. 26 Mikhail Youzhny vs. Denis Istomin. Only Djokovic and Federer have won major championships; none of the other six has made so much as one Grand Slam final.
“I have been around the block, obviously, and I know how hard it is to, every day, beat the guy ranked 25, 65, 105. … They all present their challenges,” Federer said, adding that Nadal’s earlier-than-expected exit “does give many other players great belief in playing us in the future.”
Those were only two of the surprising happenings during a wild Week 1. Really, what could Week 2 possibly have in store to equal what the first six days offered?
There was five-time champion Venus Williams‘ departure on Day 1; the only other time in 16 appearances at Wimbledon that she lost in the first round came during her debut in 1997 at age 17. Her younger sister, four-time champion Serena, is still around, but only barely. She pounded a tournament-record 23 aces to escape the third round with a 9-7 third-set victory.
As superb as both of the Williams siblings are, neither has pulled off what Serena’s next opponent managed to do Saturday: a perfect set. No woman had ever won all 24 points in a set in a professional match _ and only one man had done it _ until 65th-ranked Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan began that way against 10th-seeded Sara Errani of Italy, who was the runner-up at the French Open.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to win a point in the set,” Serena Williams said, looking ahead and keeping a straight face. “That will be my first goal, and then I’ll go from there.”