Federer serves up a masterclass against Mannarino; Serena routs Russian Rodina; Kerber also advances
The business end of Wimbledon got going under a spell of sunshine but also under the shadow of the FIFA World Cup, which seems to have worked up almost everyone in England into an eager, expectant sweat.
On Manic Monday, when every one of the 32 singles pre-quarterfinalists are scheduled to play, it was believed that Wimbledon 2018 had exhausted its capacity for shock and surprise. Not quite.
Opening proceedings on Court No. 2, Karolina Pliskova crashed out in straight sets (3-6, 6-7) to Kiki Bertens, a remarkable result in itself, but quite extraordinary in what it brought about.
For the first time in the history of the Open era, there is no top 10 seed in the women’s singles draw after the fourth round.
Bertens was busier and more energetic against the seventh-seeded Czech, who seemed lacklustre and unable to pull herself together despite having her moments during the second set.
It was her service game where the problem really lay. She could win only 46% and 58% of points on serve in the two sets, thanks to a particularly vulnerable second serve, which a confident Bertens, fresh from her win over Venus Williams, exploited.
With Pliskova’s exit, 11th-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany becomes the top-ranking player in the draw, though on current form 25th seed Serena Williams, on a comeback after becoming a mother, is clearly the strongest woman standing. The American, with 23 Major singles titles, easily overcame Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina 6-2, 6-2.
Unusual playing style
On Centre Court, where play began later, Roger Federer made short work of A. Mannarino (6-0, 7-5, 6-4), belying predictions that the left-handed Frenchman, who has an unusual playing style, may pose a question or two to the top-seeded Swiss.
The first set was something of an embarrassment with Mannarino winning a mere five points.
He was able to win only one of his 13 service points.
It was hard to say whether this was a contest or a tutorial and the Wimbledon crowd — usually firmly behind Federer in every match he plays — began cheering lustily for his opponent, a rare thing.
Taking his chances
Faced with a crushing loss, the 22nd-seeded Frenchman started doing the only logical thing in the circumstances — taking his chances to play himself back in the game.
This seemed to work from the beginning of the second set, the first game of which Mannarino managed to win in a little more than eight minutes — more than half the time it took for Federer to wrap up the first set.
The Frenchman succeeded in drawing Federer into longer rallies, but was unable to trouble the Federer serve, which has been free from challenge from the very beginning of the tournament.
Mannarino, who plays with a racquet that is very loosely strung, has the ability to create sharp angles by feeding off the power generated by the opponent.
But Federer was much too good, passing Mannarino, who is not averse to rushing the net, with backhands of a simple and spare beauty.
The Frenchman had a small window of opportunity in the third, but failed to convert the three break points when ahead 4-3.
When that closed on him, it was all but over with Federer stepping up his game a little to book himself a place in yet another Wimbledon quarterfinal.