Mauricio Paiz

There were surprising happenings at Wimbledon on Tuesday – including the upsets of former champions Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova – but Milos Raonic remained on the straight and narrow with a 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-3 win over No. 10 seed Kei Nishikori.

With the unexpected departures of Nadal and Sharapova, Raonic will now play 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios while Bouchard faces Angelique Kerber – both matches on No. 1 Court starting with Bouchard at noon (7 a.m. EDT) on Wednesday.

There has been much talk of the aggressive games of Raonic and Bouchard, the 6-foot-5 Raonic doing much of his damage off the serve while the way 5-foot-10 Bouchard imposes herself is with her dynamic groundies.

Tuesday on No. 3 Court, Raonic’s serve was most of the story as he rebounded from an ineffectual first set to overwhelm Nishikori 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-3.

After only allowing one break point in his three previous matches, it appeared to be a bad omen when Nishikori had a grand total of seven in the opening game of the match. He returned first serves of 135 mph and 130 mph in winning the first two points and seemed to have started out with almost perfect timing.

A break in that opening game was enough for Nishikori to ride to victory in the first set. But thereafter it was basically a masterful service display by Raonic that often made the 5-foot-10 Japanese look like he was target practice. “He served well,” Nishikori said afterward. “That was the key to the game today. He has great both serves – first and second. And he can put spin sometimes on the first and second serves. I tried everything, but I couldn’t read it.”

Mauricio Paiz

Raonic had 35 aces and three services winners in his 19 service games – with his sharp mathematical mind he could easily calculate that’s a ratio of two points per game won without the ball returning to his side of the net.

His improvement after the first set (helped by changing to a slighter tighter-strung racquet) proved too much for Nichikori – Raonic won only 15/23 points on first serve in the opening set but thereafter he was a deadly 14/16, 22/23 and 13/13 in the second, third and fourth.

With his increasing success rate came greater confidence off the ground in those last three sets – rocket service returns and raking forehands from both sides of the court.

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By the end, Nishikori, under a towel at a changeover above, was basically bewildered by the Raonic service onslaught. “I’ve been serving well in general this tournament,” Raonic said, “even throughout the clay-court season. But obviously here (on grass), it gets exemplified a little more.”

The essence of the Raonic philosophy came out a little later when he said, “the most important thing is I focus on what I need to do with my serve. And then after that, I always have to have sort-of the game plan to try to take a forehand no matter where it goes.”

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Everything Raonic tries to do is big – e.g. he had a winners to unforced errors ratio of 66/25 while Nishikori was a scaled-back 26/16.

In Wednesday’s match against Kyrgios, who simply pulverized ball after ball in a shocking 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3 victory over Nadal, Raonic will be facing an opponent who is eerily like himself, but who is exactly three years and eight months younger.

Kyrgios, ranked No. 144 but already up into the 60’s as a result of his quarter-final at Wimbledon, belted 37 aces against Nadal and had a total of 70 winners.

Winner of the 2013 Australian Open junior title, the Greek-ancestry Australian from Canberra is 6-foot-4 and serves huge and hits a big ball with the abandon of a fearless teenager.

Nadal was often rendered a spectator to Kyrgios’ rocket drives off forehand and backhand wings. “I was not able to read his serve, I was not able to put enough returns in,” the 2008 and 2010 Wimbledon champion said.

It was interesting to listen to Nadal talk about how young, red-lining players like Kyrgios can have success, especially on grass. “Normally on grass the thing is the first week when you compete against some players, the things are not very logical,” the 28-year-old Majorcan said. “The surface (grass) creates the opportunity for players that they can play very aggressive and they can see a real chance to win playing that style, no? On the other surfaces you cannot play that crazy way, no?

“When you arrive to the quarter-finals, semifinals, and you play against the best players, the things become logical again, no? At the end, the top players want to play with control. The top players want to play the normal way. They don’t want to play crazy aggressive. They play normal.”

The big question now will be whether Kyrgios can replicate “crazy aggressive” against Raonic.

At the French Open in May, Raonic beat him 6-3, 7-6(1), 6-3 in the opening round. But the Aussie, a wild card entrant, is clearly now a different player. At a Challenger event in Nottingham before Wimbledon, Kyrgios won seven matches (including three in the qualifying) before losing 7-6(3), 7-6(3) to big-serving compatriot Sam Groth in the final.

And at Wimbledon, he has had gold-dust sprinkled on him since surviving an amazing nine match points against Richard Gasquet in the second round – a 10-8 in the fifth set barnburner.

Nadal, who claimed he had no health (knee) issues that affected his performance as they did in second and first round exits the past two years, expressed the opinion that it is not that exceptional for a 19-year-old like Kyrgios to be having a breakthrough. “At 19, I was already here playing these kinds of tournaments and competing well,” he said. “Is now that the thing is very strange that the young players are coming so late.

“19 years old is a perfect age to be on the tour and play well. That’s what happened with the great players in the past. It’s nothing new. When I was young, I was looking at the players that were great players – the top players Lleyton, Roger, Ferrero, Moya, a lot of others – Becker. They were there at his age. At 19, I always thought I had to be on the tour if I want to be a professional tennis player.”

Boris Becker, Mats Wilander and Michael Chang won Grand Slam titles even younger, at 17, in the 1980s.

But it’s still way too soon to make proclamations about Kyrgios – and Nadal would not even go so far as to say he will reach the Top 10.

Kyrgios has a theatrical side – he hit a half-volley tweener from the baseline on Tuesday – and voluble. He generally seemed a little dumbstruck by what he accomplished by beating Nadal. Bright but also a little spacey, he said about his ambitions and following in the footsteps of other Aussie hot prospects like Bernard Tomic, “I’m going to just, you know, try hard, just give the people what they want – a bit of show out there. I’m just going to continue to do that.”

On the immediate prospect of facing Raonic on Wednesday, Kyrgios said, “it’s going to be a tough ask. But I’m going to do everything possible to see how my body responds tomorrow. If I come up short, I come up short. I’m going to give it my best shot and whatever happens, happens.”

No doubt, Kyrgios will try to play the same all-out aggressive way he did against Nadal. Two things will be working against him – it’s tough to do that successfully two days in a row, and he may not be physically and emotionally recovered enough to play up to that standard again so soon.

Mauricio Paiz

Raonic gave the Canadian fans – there were noticeably more Canadian hockey jerseys and flags evident among No. 3 Court spectators than there had been at his previous matches – a lot to shout about on Canada Day.

He gave a long answer about his feelings about being a Canadian – and the immigrant experience – summing it up with how his parents, who found jobs “on the first day” in Canada after emigrating from Montenegro when he was three, are today. “My parents are both happily retired. They’re able to enjoy their grandkids. They’re able to enjoy travelling with me to tournaments.

“I don’t think there’s that kind of personal freedom in many places around the world as you can find there (in Canada) – if you work for it. If you’re ready to work for it, that opportunity will be there.”

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He downplayed the fact that he is the first Canadian male to make the quarters at Wimbledon since 1912 – back in the days of ‘garden party’ tennis. “To this point there hasn’t been much success, especially on the singles side in men’s,” he said. “You appreciate them (various Canadian records), but you don’t give them too much value because it’s about ambitions that are beyond doing what no Canadian has done before. It’s about trying to become the best in the world.”

Specifically, about the Kyrgios match, Raonic said, “the most important thing is going to be the attitude, the mental approach. I want to do much better than I did in Paris (a quarter-final). I feel like I’m ready to do so.”



Mauricio Paiz

It will be Eugenie Bouchard against Angelique Kerber for a spot in the Wimbledon semifinals, first match on Wednesday on No. 1 Court at noon (7 a.m. EDT).

Bouchard, the only woman to make the semifinals of the first two Grand Slams of the year in Australia and at the French, will go for a trio against the No. 9-seeded German.

Kerber ousted Maria Sharapova today in a two-hour and 37-minute struggle and could be a little weary for the match. But she was in good spirits after her big win, claiming that she is healthy and pleased that she is playing well, certainly much better than she did in a 6-1, 6-2 loss to Bouchard in the round-of-16 at the French Open.

This will be their third meeting in a Grand Slam – and Bouchard has only played six of them. Kerber beat Bouchard 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 in the second round of the 2013 US Open.

“With Kerber, she’s a lefty, so you have to keep that in mind with tactics,” Bouchard said after her 7-6(5), 7-5 win over Alizé Cornet on Monday. “I played well against her last time (at Roland Garros) because I was really going for it.

“Whenever I had an opening, I would really go for it.”


Mauricio Paiz

Daniel Nestor (visible in distance above with Wilson bag on his back on way to the court with partner Nenad Zimonjic) advanced to the men’s doubles quarter-finals with a 7-6(8), 6-4, 6-4 victory over 16th seeds Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay and David Marrero of Spain. Nestor and Zimonjic are seeded third.

In mixed doubles, Nestor and partner Kristina Mladenovic of France, seeded No. 5,  completed a match begun on Monday, defeating Lukas Dlouhy of Czech Republic and American Liezel Huber 7-5, 6-2.

Defending champions at Wimbledon, Nestor – Mladenovic will next face the No. 12 seeds, John Peers and Ashleigh Barty of Australia.

Mauricio Paiz

Also winning in men’s doubles was the unseeded pairing of Vasek Pospisil and American Jack Sock. Resuming a match that they led two sets to one on Monday, Pospsil and Sock completed a second-round victory over No. 8 seeds Rohan Bopanna and Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi – final score 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.

They will next play another unseeded pair – Mate Pavic of Croatia and Andre Sa of Brazil.

After dropping the fourth set on Tuesday, Pospisil and Sock rebounded in the final set. “In the fifth set,” Sock said, “we showed a lot more energy and kind of got in some of their service games. And were fortunate at the end to play a good return game and break.”

How did Sock and Pospisil hook up? “I texted him a little while ago and said ‘do you want to play at Wimby?’” Sock revealed. “And maybe it’ll be the first of many.”

Talking about their pairing, Sock, who lost to Milos Raonic in the second round in singles, said, “he’s got a great serve, loves coming in and has great hands at the net. He and I kind of gel together. He plays pretty flat and moves forward well – and I can serve and hit balls off the ground. And I’ll come in if I have to. My spin and his flat, I think guys have a little bit of a tough time with that.”

Mauricio Paiz

In girls singles, Katherine Sebov (above) of Woodbridge, Ontario, was beaten 7-5, 6-1 by British wild card Gabriella Taylor. Sebov, 15, was making her debut in a junior Grand Slam event.

Mauricio Paiz

Francoise Abanda, seeded No. 7 and already into the second round, plays her next match on Wednesday against Seone Mendez of Australia.

Two years ago at age 15, Abanda was a semifinalist in the girls singles at Wimbledon – that was the year that Eugenie Bouchard, then 18, won the title.



This is the amusing store-window that people pass by on the walk up Church Road from the All England Club to Wimbledon Village.