Wimbledon: Big guns all back in action on Magic Monday
Murray, Djokovic, Federer, Nadal, Williams, Kerber, Konta and Muguruza will be on court on moving day
In all there are eight men’s and eight women’s matches played at Wimbledon on Monday.
If Wimbledon ever had a moving day, this is it. The top four male players in the world, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and a resurgent Rafa Nadal, all 30-years-old or more, dip their toes in the second week, defending champion Murray bidding to reach his 10th consecutive Wimbledon quarter-final.
If he can brush aside Frenchman Benoit Pare, the Scot would take sole ownership of fourth place on the Open era list for the most quarter-final appearances after Federer, Jimmy Connors and Boris Becker.
On the women’s side Venus Williams faces Croatian Ana Konjuh in the first match on Centre Court. Flying the family flag as her heavily pregnant younger sister watches on, at 37-years-old Williams will tug some heart strings.
A five-time former winner, Williams is the only player left in the draw who has won the title before.
But the one player the crowd will hand their heart to is on court one. Johanna Konta at least has Murray to deflect some of the more extreme attention as the home fans, already at a giddy setting, prime themselves for the unthinkable.
Konta faces the French 21st seed Caroline Garcia.
It is just the third time since 1979 that Britain has had representatives in the round of 16 in both the men’s and women’s singles at Wimbledon.
Tim Henman and Sam Smith did it in 1998 while Murray and Laura Robson did it again four years ago in 2013. British players have been in these quarter-finals of the men’s and women’s singles on only two occasions in the Open era.
In 1970 Roger Taylor and Winnie Wooldridge pulled it off and Taylor and Virginia Wade repeated the feat in 1973. So “Ginny” replaces Fred Perry as the ghost that haunts the corridors when the home women step into the second week of the competition.
Monday is, even by Wimbledon standards, a frenzy of tennis with everyone thrown onto court bidding for a quarter-final place. In all there are eight men’s and eight women’s matches played, the women’s draw as wide open as it has ever been.
Tracy Austin, who played here in the 1970s and is now a pundit, said of the 16 remaining players that there are 10 who could win it. That’s sticking your neck out.
Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza have caused a stir by being placed out on Court two. The German is a two-time Grand Slam winner and the top ranked player in the draw, with Muguruza the French Open winner from last year.
Eugenie Buchard, not one to keep her views in check, Tweeted her disapproval of the slight with former winner Chris Evert agreeing. Bouchard is the player who called Maria Sharapova “a cheater.” She knows how to whistle up a headline.
On top of that is the All England Club groundsman coming under heaped pressure after Murray and Italian Fabio Fognini complained that the surface was not as good as previous years.
France’s 12th seed Kristina Mladenovic chimed in saying players are at risk of injury, all to the back drop of Bethanie Mattek-Sands needing surgery after dislocating her right kneecap and rupturing her patella tendon as she slipped on court last Thursday.
That means cameras will be on slip watch throughout the week and if it is Murray or Konta, there will be hell to pay.
Outsiders to watch are Grigor Demitrov, once dubbed ‘Baby Federer’ because of his style and one handed backhand, who now has the chance to erase that inferred criticism.
At 26-years-old the Bulgarian has yet to win a Grand Slam or even make a semi-final. Federer leads 5-0 in their head-to-heads and they have never played on grass.