WIMBLEDON – A year ago, Wednesday was all drama at the All-England Club.
For the first time in 37 Grand Slams spanning nine years, Roger Federer wasn't going to be in the quarterfinals. In fact, he wasn't even going to make the third round after a shocking upset at the hands of serve-and-volleying Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine.
This Wednesday, Federer is idle after his first-round win Tuesday. Stakhovsky, on the other hand, faces the hot Ernests Gulbis, seeded No. 12 and a French Open semifinalist.
Showmen on Centre Court: No. 1 men's seed Novak Djokovic meets savvy Czech veteran Radek Stepanek, who has some tools to hurt him on a grass court with his aggressive ways. There will be personality to spare in this one.
Tall, silent type match on No. 1: No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych meets the enigmatic Bernard Tomic – heck, their names are almost the reverse of each other. Tomic's father, banned a year ago, is back by his side although he has definitely kept a low profile around the grounds so far.
Bad timing for royalty: The Royal Box, which featured the likes of Shaquille O'Neal and actor Hugh Jackman the first two days, actually has some royalty in it Wednesday: HRH the Duchess of Cornwall, HRH the Duke of Kent. Also HRH the Duchess of Gloucester and the Marchioness of Landsdowne.
The Duchess of Gloucester is Camilla, for those non royal-obsessed, the late Princess Diana's successor as the wife of Prince Charles (no Chuck sighting).
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) June 25, 2014
Unfortunately, reigning champion and Brit Andy Murray is scheduled on Court No. 1 today. We can't see them braving the hordes of the great unwashed to cross over to see him and sit on rather plebeian benches without adequate cushioning for their royal bottoms. But you never know.
Earplugs to Court 3, please: The ear-splitting Victoria Azarenka meets the squeaking Bojana Jovanovski on Court 3, and those many opponents of grunting in tennis out there will surely avoid this one - either on site, on television or on an Internet stream. Jovanovski actually has toned it down a little bit in the last couple of years, but her loud squeak still comes, in part, after the ball leaves her racquet. Azarenka, um, is status quo. As an aside, Maria Sharapova sounded like she was testing out a new type of grunt during her practice session Wednesday morning. It was sort of a two-toned, two-beat grunt, similar to the one we enjoy from Sharapova's countrywoman Elena Vesnina (if you know your grunts, you'll know what we mean. If you don't, well, skip this bit). After about 15 minutes, she seemed back to normal grunting more, even though the noise in practice is nothing close to what it is during matches.
Doubles, anyone? The doubles draws begin today, and such notable singles players as Andrea Petkovic, Feliciano Lopez, Marcel Granollers, Julia Goerges, Lukas Rosol (who faces Rafael Nadal - again - in the second round of singles Thursday), Genie Bouchard, Heather Watson, Carla Suárez Navarro, American Madison Keys and Lleyton Hewitt.
Is it 2002, or what? Also in doubles action Wednesday are Serena and Venus Williams. And Martina Hingis. We're waiting for Lindsay Davenport and Kim Clijsters to show up.
"A dry day with plenty of sunshine and just small amounts of cloud. the sunshine turning hazy at times during the afternoon. Cooler and fresher than of late but temperatures still reaching a warm and pleasant 21 deg C (70F). Winds will be gentle north-easterlies. UV levels will remain high."