Recapping Wimbledon’s first round: it’s over for Serena, it’s wide open for Nadal
The 2022 edition began with a great moment of sport and emotion with the defeat of Serena Williams, 40, in the tie-break of the last set against Harmony Tan. The other unexpected star of the first round was… the Covid.
The story of this first round: the return of the Covid
Two of the biggest surprises of the first round of Wimbledon played out backstage, in the infirmary, with Matteo Berrettini and Marin Cilic, two in-firm former finalists who withdrew from the draw to a malady that had almost disappeared from the radar: a positive test for Covid-19.
Berrettini himself admits having withdrawn so as not to expose his colleagues. This display immediately raised doubts about the protocols applicable this year to sick people and contact cases. The few players consulted on a possible issue were quick to confirm that in their eyes, life had returned to normal: they were vaccinated, and considered it out of the question to return to a world of strict Covid protocols.
In other words: no thanks.
The statements of Frenchwoman Alizé Cornet, evoking a Roland-Garros marked by a wave of plausible contaminations, reported a tacit agreement between the players to protect each other against the return of bubbles and controls.
Back to normal: the six-time and three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic is not in a position to speak this language, since his unvaccinated status closes the doors to the United States, therefore the US Open and the next two Masters 1000.
Breaking on the men’s side: Nadal’s draw has cracked wide open!
Across the first round the men’s draw lost 3 of its first 8 seeds. A considerable figure, especially given the profile of the three discarded: Berrettini, as we said, finalist in 2021, but also Hubert Hurkacz, seeded No 7, winner in Halle and semi-finalist in 2021, and Félix Auger- Aliassime, seeded No. 16, and a quarter-finalist at SW19 last year.
They had, it is true, a first round trap. Davidovich Fokina, who sacked Hurkacz, loves grass (as he told Alizé Lim in Major Talk) and he showed it against Hurkacz. And Maxime Cressy is the latest disciple of serve-and-volley, a rambunctious style of play that pays off on grass, as Patrick Mouratoglou had explained to us.
Berrettini and Auger-Aliassime were both in Nadal’s half, like Cilic. The Spaniard now has Van de Zandchulp as his theoretical opponent in the round of 16, Fritz (or Evans?) in the quarter-finals, and Tsitsipas or Shapovalov in the semis. These are his main theoretical obstacles before the final.
The left foot isn’t the only thing shaping up nicely for Rafa.
Other notable men’s singles facts
• Four other seeds were bounced from the draw in the first round: Carreño Busta (16), Dimitrov (18), Rune (24) and Evans (28).
• Andy Murray continues his love affair with Wimbledon and hard-fought matches. He dominated Duckworth in four sets and gave himself the right to perform in the evening session against John Isner in round two.
• Nick Kyrgios sent a spat in the direction of the British public following his victory in five sets against the astonishing Paul Jubb 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-7 (3), 7-5. A reaction to the disrespect he felt he received from “haters” who, he regretted, behave in life as well as on social networks.
The major fact of the women’s singles draw in round one
She was obviously not ready to win a 24th Grand Slam tournament. That said, she could have passed her first round against Harmony Tan, but Serena, who led 4-0 in the third set tie-break, ended up bowing out in 3 hours 11 minutes of play.
In case of victory, what energy would she have had left for the second round? Serena was Serena at times against the Frenchwoman: powerful, aggressive, dynamic, sometimes on the verge of tears with the intensity of the fight. But her lack of consistency, stamina, explosiveness and a service that is no longer what it was prevented her ambition from expressing itself.
Despite the disappointment o losing, Serena left Center Court with a big smile on her face and hinted that she wanted to play the US Open. She’s not done.
Other major facts in the female table
• The highest-seeded woman out of the draw was American Danielle Collins, seeded No. 7, eliminated by Czech Marie Bouzkova.
• Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia, seeded No 23, was fired after a stellar grass season with titles at Nottingham and Birmingham and a semi-final at Eastbourne, fell from the start against Kaja Juvan (4-6, 6-4, 6-2)
• Simona Halep has not missed her reunion with Wimbledon, three years after the masterpiece of her life against Serena Williams in the final. Far from her panic attack at Roland-Garros, she left no chance for Karolina Muchova, who was supposed to be a true challenge for her, at least on paper.
• The other seeds eliminated in round one: Bencic (14), Giorgi (21), Trevisan (22), Putintseva (27), Kanepi (31)
• Not all matches are finished due to Monday’s rain interruptions: Pegula – Vekic, Pliskova – Martincova and Muguruza – Minnen will take place on Wednesday.