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LaRosa's 2010 Wimbledon Blog - Week 1

6/26/2010 5:00:00 PM

Catch up on James' weekly column: LaRosa's Sweet Spot |
Read LaRosa's 2010 Wimbledon Blog: Week 2

Check back daily throughout Wimbledon as our resident blogger, James LaRosa, offers up his humorous and poignant take on the day's action.

Day 7 - 6/27/2010 - 12:47pm PT

Hello peoples! It is Dunlop. I escape from British lady jail and find way to you again. My time behind bars was big nightmare. Dunlop drops soap 30, 40 times! He is so clumsy. But now I am back to take out, how you say, post trauma stress disorder, on terrible terrible people who give Dunlop even more nightmares. Let the beatings begin!

VICTOR HANESCU: You win first two sets then fall apart faster than underwire bra from 99 Cent Store…Dunlop is told. The spitting, the cursing, the quitting. I will show you how to commit to task. – 8 Whacks with Shame Stick

HECKLERS: Who heckles at Wimbledon? - 8 Whacks with Shame Stick. Dunlop spits at you too because is in thing to do.

JAMES BLAKE: Why complain to umpire over noise when you can just yell at woman yourself? Twice! Is not her fault you are losing. – 4 Whacks with Shame Stick

ENGLISHMEN: In 133 years, is first time no men from England are in Wimbledon main draw. And you have golden Wonka tickets that get Englishmen into main draw, like Fastpass at Disneyland! And you don't give them all out! - 7 Whacks with Shame Stick. And more spitting.

FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE & SAM STOSUR: More history! For first time in Open Era, both French Open finalists lose in first round of Wimbledon. How do you say 'humiliating' in British? – 5 Whacks with Shame Stick

MARCOS BAGHDATIS: You lose in first round to something called a Lacko. He is so bad he loses in next round to guy who loses in next round to guy who loses in next round. Dunlop is almost too embarrassed to hit you stick. Almost. – Whacks with Shame Stick until he cramps

JOHN ISNER & NICOLAS MAHUT: I watch 73 hours of tennis and when it is finally over, that is the hug Dunlop gets at the net? Is most awkward show of affection since Adrien Brody and Halle Berry. – 2 Whacks with Shame Stick and hug tutorial.

WORLD CUP: Is Dunlop only one who does not care? Blow it out your vuvuzela. - 6 Whacks with Shame Stick

The high hat

THE QUEEN: Oh, Queeeen is coming. Everybody line up for chance to see Queeeen. Your hat is stupid. – Continuous Whacks with Shame Stick until I am as bored as you look in Royal Box.
Oh, is seven hours later, you are still here? Dunlop is so energized by beatings that he will also answer some questions from millions of fans on the twitter. Away we go!

@raindelaysplay ask: "What did you do to get yourself into the all-female Holloway prison?"

Dunlop get into brawl with Shahar Peer. She knows what she did. In case she forgets, he writes in magic marker on forehead.

In unrelated question, @Curtos07 ask: "Do I have any shot of hooking up with Ana Ivanovic? Is that a fair question?"

No and no! Dunlop saves himself for Ana. If she does the hooking up with just anyone then there is no reason for Dunlop not to date other women. That can never happen.

@julesdc ask: "Who has the better Wimbledon whites, Jelena Jankovic or Novak Djokovic? Who will go farther in the draw?"

Oh you put Dunlop on the spot! They each wear their outfits so well. Dunlop would like to see them in each other's clothes before making final decision. And they will both go same distance – to winner's circle! Ajde ajde ajde!

@GVTennisNews ask: "Why was your guy wearing a sweatsuit while he was meeting Queen Elizabeth?"

Why was she wearing stupid hat! That is bigger question. And what kind of color is turquoise! Is color of tooth paste. She is lucky he dressed at all.

@TylerGreenDC ask: "Wimby has lots of ballkids. Why do the players insist in putting you in pockets, 'up' skirts?"

Everyone wants to snuggle Dunlop! Especially woman with moustache who shares Dunlop's cell. Thank goodness four hecklers show up. Now they have real reason to scream.

@kefuoe ask: "I think you weren't surprised to see Grace Jones at a tennis court. Do you have something to share with the group?"

Grace Jones visits Wimbledon this week, but she and Dunlop are just friends. Like Serena and Common or two boys from Twilight movie.

@Ataraxis00 ask: "Why does Caro get Centre Court when the Queen comes?"

Caroline also comes from European country with monarchy, and also tournament needs to spread out top players to give ticket holders good value for their HAHAHAHA. Sorry, Dunlop could not keep straight face. Serena does not think it is so funny. She ask to borrow Shame Stick and it come back bloody toothpick. Nothing personal!

@MindTheRacket ask: "If you were to be struck by any one tennis player, who would it be?"

Nole has biggest sweet spot, Rafa is rough, but Nenad is very gentle, soft touch. I enjoy Jelena but it takes forever to wash glitter off in the shower.

This person also ask Dunlop to write haiku about Wimbledon. Dunlop will try. "There once was Swiss player from Nantucket, whose monogram was so big you can…" Wait, Nantucket is not haiku? I will, how do you say, get back to you.

Dunlop leave you with new hit single from Nole and Ivo Karlovic, their new rap duet called "Moja Droga Je Tenis." It means My Drug Is Tennis. My drug is this song! Ajde! (



Day 6 - 6/26/2010 - 2:10pm PT

It's been one wacky wild Kool-Aid-style first week at Wimbledon. Here's to the people, places and things that were simply smashing.

JOHN ISNER: Much has been written (in this blog alone) about the single biggest star of Wimbledon 2010. So without rehashing, let's take it from where we left off. After winning the longest match in the history of tennis, John hobbled back on court the next day for what amounted to a slaughter. He was playing on feet he wore down to the bone (literally, if you believe Patrick McEnroe) and trying to serve with no neck or shoulder. Instead of retiring, he had to be dragged off court kicking and screaming by party pooper Thiemo de Bakker. John's headed back to the States to do what one can only imagine will be an Oudinesque run of talk show appearances, kicked off by a spot on Letterman Monday to do the Top Ten List. He better hope his feet heal quick, something tells me he has some serious white people dancing to do with Ellen DeGeneres.

The two highlights of week 1

NICOLAS MAHUT: Anyone you feel worse for on earth this week? Didn't think so. But wait, there's more. After losing the longest match in the history of tennis (which, I'm sorry, is a lot lower low than winning is a higher high), Nicolas had to go right back out to the SAME court to play doubles. Seriously? While I would've stabbed myself in both eyes with a sawed down racquet handle, Mahut simply wanted to get back out there and win on that court. He'd have to wait, as for the third straight day, his match is suspended for lack of light. If there's one thing we learned this week about Mahut (besides, for many, his existence), it's that he can take whatever you throw at him. Fan for life.

COURT 18: The house that Isner/Mahut built. And Victor Hanescu spat on, cursed and retired on. And hecklers were arrested at. Was it built on an ancient Indian burial ground? Whatever its pop secret, Centre Court got blanked this year for the coolest court in town.

ATP UNDERDOGS: Some drama managed to unfold on the big stages, but not thanks to Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, but a few punks who dared take it to them. ALEJANDO FALLA (previously the guy I felt the worst for this week) served for what would've been the biggest upset of the year. Sure, the occasion swallowed him whole and left no bones for the fifth set, but it sent a message to the locker room, and sure enough, enter Serbian qualifier ILIJA BOZOLJAC, who was a tiebreak away from pushing Fed to his second consecutive 5-setter. Lest Rafa enjoy it too much, in strutted ROBIN HAASE, who looked shockingly unstoppable up two sets to one against the No 1. Today, PHILIPP PETZSCHNER also took Rafa to 5. These four scrappers kept everyone on their toes - the top dogs and the challengers who thought they didn't have a chance. Way to keep things interesting dudes.

WTA VETS: SERENA WILLIAMS, VENUS WILLIAMS, JUSTINE HENIN and KIM CLIJSTERS are all showing the youngins how to get 'er done, obliterating the opposition without dropping a set to land in the second week. These women are aging like a fine wine…a wine that can kick your butt. Extra credit to my girl LINDSAY DAVENPORT, strutting her stuff in Mixed Doubles, and MARTINA HINGIS and ANNA KOURNIKOVA, teaming up again in (ahem) Legends Doubles. It really is like WTA All-Stars week. Or just 2002.

MIRJANA LUCIC: …or is it 1999? That was the year teen phenom Lucic reached the semis at Wimbledon. Thanks to a heap of personal problems, Mirjana all but dropped off the face of the earth. Until she fought her way back in the Challenger circuit, finally qualifying for her first Wimby main draw in a decade. A shame that she had to face Victoria Azarenka in the first round, but that doesn't take away one drop of her achievement. Major major props.

KAIA KANEPI: Another phoenix rising from the ashes, former No 18 Kanepi came first through oblivion and then through qualifying to wipe out French Open runner up and Sister of the Sunglass Sam Stosur in the first round. With only Zakopalova and either Kvitova or Wozniacki in her path, the semis don't look so ridiculously far away.

DANIEL BRANDS: Knocking Nikolay Davydenko out of a grass court tournament in straight sets? That's nuthin. But surviving a third rounder than had even the terminally flatline Victor Hanescu spitting, now that takes something special. Welcome to the big leagues baby.

JARMILA GROTH: Back-to-back second week appearances at majors. That Australian citizenship she snagged in November clearly agrees with her.

CHAIR UMPIRE MOHAMED LAHYANI: Is there anyone else who can stay so fantastically jovial for 11+ hours? Without prescription drugs? I thought so. Like car keys to a baby, Mo just makes me smile.

So many good feelings. Tomorrow, the beatings begin. Enter The Shame Stick.


Day 5 - 6/25/2010 - 12:10pm PT

As Day 5's action plays out (sorry, I meant to put action in air quotes), we turn our attention to fashion. Because I'm an eternal optimist, and I'm contractually obligated, please welcome my co-host--

Dunlop: Hello peoples! I am coming to you live from red carpet--!

James: You're coming to us live from Holloway jail in North London. Folks, Dunlop had a little anger management issue—

Dunlop: Shahar Peer steal my strawberries and cream. I steal her ponytail.

James: And the fact that she beat Ana Ivanovic in the first round?

Dunlop: How do you say, "incidental."

James: Well now he's joining us via payphone from a British hoosegow to talk threads. Let's start with—

Dunlop: Ana looked beautiful!

James: You think? The skirt plus the tights, kinda freaky deeky no?

Dunlop: Your mother is freaky deeky.

James: Dunlop, what did the judge say?

Dunlop: Jelena looks very nice. Pretty skirt. She is like snow flake with lip gloss.

James: So she doesn't look like she has an old lady's shower curtain wrapped around her waist?

Dunlop: Your mother has old lady's shower curtain wrapped around her waist!

James: …let's try someone not Serbian. How about Andy Murray?

Dunlop: Zzz.

James: Andy Roddick?

Dunlop: Zzz.

James: Novak Djokovic.

Dunlop: The best outfit it history of Wimbledon! We wait 133 years for this! It has green!

James: I'm loving Venus. She says the outfit was inspired by Tina Turner. I could see her going straight from Centre Court to the disco in this. It's, dare I say, fringe-tastic.

Dunlop: You are idiot.

James: I still have the cattle prod.

Dunlop: She is vision!

James: Maria Sharapova looks great too. With the flap things on the skirt and the little coat. And it looks like she's buried the head tie once and for all.

Dunlop: Thank goodness her stalker from Belarus still wears one so we do not forget what ugly looks like.

James: Ouch. Okay, speaking of strawberries and cream, that was the thought behind Serena's red and white combo.

Always a classic

Dunlop: The red bottoms are great idea! Serena should call Tatiana Golovin and thank her for letting her steal it. And Serena's hair looks like top of strawberry. I want to pluck off and throw away.

James: Jail has really hardened you. How long have you been in there?

Dunlop: 2 hours. Dunlop does not think he is going to make it! They take his Milk Duds!

James: Stay with me Dunlop, we only have a couple left. Rafael Nadal.

Dunlop: His shirt is so tight. I cannot breathe looking at him.

James: Roger Federer? We're back with the gold…

Dunlop: Dunlop is going to be sick.

James: I think it's cool actually. A little tuxedo shirt inspiration—

Dunlop: No, Dunlop means really sick.

James: Caroline Wozniacki.

Dunlop: (Throws up.)

James: …Dunlop? You there?

Dunlop: Yes. I feel little better. But I must go. Big woman with moustache giving me evil eye.

James: Wait, you're in a women's prison?

Dunlop: Big confusion during strip search. I will see you soon. Damir Dokic smuggle me Shawshank map.

James: So…best and worst dressed?

Dunlop: Nole best, your mother worst. (Hangs up.)

Cool. Well my vote goes for Venus and Rog. Though, much like Day 5, the clothes could've been a lot more exciting. Thanks to Dunlop and women with moustaches everywhere. See you next time.

Day 4 - 6/24/2010 - 12:30pm PT

Purple coat, turquoise coat, purple coat, turquoise coat. Oh honestly, who cares. I can't believe I have to go to this thing today. "Your Majesty, it's been 33 years." Well big whoop. I also haven't been to a competitive eating contest in 33 years but you're not dragging me to one of those. I mean, tennis. What's the point? Hitting a little white ball with a wooden stick, back and forth, back and forth. I'd sooner die. Turquoise coat.

Okay, I'm here, where's my seat? What, I'm meant to meet some of these player people in advance? Good lord. If one of them messes up the greeting, off with their head. Ha, I'm kidding of course. No not really, I will have them killed. Here we go. Hello, yes hi, hello. I don't know you, I don't know you. Oh look, it's the woman in those caveman commercials. Yes "Jelena Jankovic," it's a thrill for me as well. "Novak", are you wearing a track suit to meet me? I'll have Palace Guards fetch you later. Hello "Venus." Hello "Venus" again. Nice nails. Okay I'm bored. Usher, can you take me to my seat? Oh, dreadfully sorry, nice to meet you "Roger." Now can you take me to my seat?

A Royal Day

Andy Murray. That's the name of the boy I'm here to see. Is he the blonde one? Oh who cares. Tennis tennis tennis. I'm missing a Law & Order marathon for this? The Brit boy wins the first set. Chung-chung! That's my Law & Order noise. It keeps me entertained. Chung-chung! Chung-chung! Chung-chung! Oh stop Elizabeth, you're incorrigible.

This undertaker behind me informs me I'm meant to clap when something exciting happens. Thanks a lot for that one, child. What's a Henman anyway?

The Brit boy wins another set. Chung-chung!

Where's the undertaker with my peanuts, I sent him off for them hours ago. At least it feels like hours. Bird woman, chase after him, would you? Oh the bird woman has a name, excuse me. And apparently we met on this court 33 years ago. Thanks for the intel "Virginia", but that doesn't make my peanuts show up any faster. Scooch mcgooch. People envy my role as Queen, but they don't understand what it takes. The sacrifice. Like my favorite musicians Five For Fighting said, it's not easy to be me-e.

The Brit boy wins. I'm told. Who's next? Hm? What on earth is a Wozniacki? Chung-chung! Chung-chung! Chung-chung! Should I throw a smoke bomb and slip away or feign a heart attack? Oh wait, I'm the Queen, I can just get up and walk off. Should I do it in the middle of her match? That would be hilarious. No, then I'd have to watch some of it. Later player.

There's my limo. So close! Wait, I have to meet the Brit boy? I mean, come on. What has he done to deserve this? Where's my body double? Ugh, fine. Hello boy, lovely match you played. Tennis was it? Indeed, I was rooting for you the entire time! Wait, you're not the blonde one? So, um…awkward. Smoke bomb!

Oh I can feel the air conditioning of my limo. Hold on, what's that crowd all about, they're not even throwing themselves at my feet! They're crowding around that court over there. Fergie best not be making a scene again. One peek through the fence won't hurt. Philip, on your hands and knees so I can stand on your back. That's a good luv.

69-68? Sounds normal to me. Look at that giant boy, he must be 8 feet tall. He's pastier than I am. Oh Elizabeth, you're the worst! Who's that fellow? He's French. Oh. Oh my. Oh my goodness. That hair. Those lips. Oh. Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha ha! Oh he's scrumptious! I want to run my fingers through that thick deliciousness on that pineapple-shaped head. Dear, he's lost. He's so sad! Pity, and after such a marathon. I'll make you feel better. Come to Mother!

Oh my, he heard me. He's coming! And look at that pep in his step.

God save me,



Day 3 - 6/23/2010 - 4:49pm PT

Dear Nicolas Mahut and John Isner,

Saw the match today. Rather, saw the fifth set. I've got a few things I want to say.

First, a confession. I barely watched your first four sets. Here and there, sure, but there was a lot going on at the time. Every player has my utmost respect, absolutely nothing personal, but a first round match on Court 18 wasn't exactly top priority with everything else going down. You understand.

Okay, another confession. Once you hit the teens in the number of games played, I sort of had my fill. This is where one of you should pack it in. The tennis was serviceable, but it wasn't Roddick/Federer.

The players outlasted the scoreboard.

Once you hit the 20's, I thought, what it this Davis Cup? You made your point. It's a first round match, I know it's Wimbledon and all but how badly could you each want this? Clearly irritability had set in. The score was now the most dramatic thing about the match, not the match itself.

And then we got into the 30's (sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? I can't believe I'm writing it either). This is where my phone really started ringing, when my email started to blow up. Friends who vaguely know I work in tennis, who vaguely follow it themselves, were now facebooking me asking if this was real. I was starting to ask myself the same question.

This is where the records started falling. I say started because it was a freefall from here on:

* Most games in a fifth set. * Most aces served in a match. * The first 7 hour match, the first 8 hour match…

As we got into the 40's, and excitement turned to numbness, quality caught up with quantity. You both weren't waiting for mistakes, you were going for winners. My guilt caught up with me here too. I had wanted this match to just finish already, for someone to pull the ripcord, tap out, and now I was riveted. Who was going to flinch first? And did I have the stomach to witness it?

I wasn't alone. Not only were my friends circling me, but online (where, sadly, much of a writer's life takes place these days) there was an entire world watching with me. A community of people I've never met, from Bangkok to Peru, Sydney to Athens, all blown away, all picking up each other's jaws, all chiming in, all sharing this moment.

We're into the 50's. We have the first 9 hour match. Both of you have broken the ace record. At this point, all I could think with every at bat was, God, I would not want to lose this match. I would not want to lose this match. I would not want to lose this match. But with each passing game, with more and more at stake, you continued to go for it. You showed no fear. Even when your bodies were screaming at you, you fought. Even when your minds were screaming at you, you fought. And fought. And fought.

And fought.

Coming up with new ways to describe what was going on was impossible. This happens in uncharted territory. You run out of words. We're all punch-drunk. A breakpoint should've made me thrilled – the finish line! – but I felt dread. Dread that one of you should have to lose.

And then, at 59-59, the match was suspended for lack of light.

As much as delayed gratification is about my least favorite thing in life, I'm ultimately relieved. For a few hours anyway, there are no losers. And you can say there are no losers in this match, and you'd be 100% right, but tell that to the guy who doesn't walk off with the W.

John, you were exhausted, each groundstroke accompanied not by a grunt but by a full-body heave, but you kept going.

Nicolas, 55. That's the number of times you had to walk up to the line and serve to stay in this match. And 55 is the number of times you held. God bless Andy Roddick and his 16-14 fifth set last year, but you sir are a stud.

So while one of you will get the W tomorrow (presumably, this match may never end), this right here is how I'll remember it. Suspended, and suspended in time. Two boxers going at it, giving the world something to talk about and be inspired by.

So thank you. For not only making tennis history, and getting people talking about tennis who otherwise wouldn't be, and entertaining us all with your strength of will and strength of legs. For not just breaking records and making Pam Shriver misty and leaving Federer, Djokovic, Venus et al at a lack of words to describe your awesomeness. For not just creating this communal experience for everyone. But for showing me all over again why two random guys on Court 18 can create something truly beautiful.

Thanks for reminding me why I love tennis so much.

Good luck tomorrow guys. I'll be watching every minute.

James LaRosa


Day 2 - 6/22/2010 - 2:11pm PT


Buzz buzz.  


Sometimes a sound gets stuck in your head, and the more you try to ignore it, the louder and more annoying it gets, until you're a seething quivering mess who just want to claw your ears out.
Exhibit A: Serena Williams v. Michelle Larcher De Brito. Each is famous for her grunting. For the life of me, I don't know why they still call it grunting because it sounds nothing like a grunt, it's more like the screeching breaks of a 1978 big rig.  That said, it doesn't bother me in the slightest. What's turning me into a seething quivering mess is the constant complaining about it.  CONSTANT.  Every year it's the same thing, and the symphony of whining and moaning never fails to climax at Wimbledon.  Maybe it's because Wimbledon is the oldest and most traditional of the Slams. Maybe, because of the grass, it's the quietest, making other noises stand out.  Whatever it is, bank on articles in the local papers and commentators with pie charts smugly touting decibel levels (buzz) and grunt-o-meters (buzz buzz) and Oh the jokes comparing banned vuvuzelas to [insert player here]! BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ.  

I do constant battle with people who don't follow tennis over what the sport is really like.  Their general perception is that every player still wears cardigans on court, plays with wooden racquets and speaks with some kind of Madonna-like affectation. Perhaps players are followed around the court while they play out their points by someone with a white lace umbrella. Tennis today is dirty, physical, nasty.  And I'm sorry, loud.  I get it, longtime tennis loyalists, you're not a fan. But it's 2010. Please, come join me.  

Serena mutes Michelle

Serena is totally fine with Michelle's volume.  She claims she prepped for the match by going to a Green Day concert (buzz). Minus the tiny tied-back bun that makes her look like Susan B Anthony, Serena looks great, hammering serve after serve and backing it up with vicious groundstrokes.  Venus gets a lot of credit for transforming on the grass, but I've never seen anyone tighten the screws of their game like Serena at Wimbledon. In a word, scary. With a beatdown of the Portuguese teen, Serena's most likely booked a date with the Queen, who's on the scene Thursday.  Says Serena afterwards, "My curtsy is really fun. It's something that she'll definitely never forget." Sounds like a threat to me.  

Also looking like he's booked a date with the Queen, a ferocious Rafael Nadal, returning to Centre Court and the scene of the biggest win of his career for the first time. He absolutely trounces Kei Nishikori (whose game, let it be said, I am in love with). I hope Liz likes tight shirts because she'll be able to see Rafa's liver through that thing. She might want to bring a royal fan for her royal vapors.  Andy Murray, through in straight sets on Court 1, will have to flex those guns overtime to compete.  

Making no noise whatsoever today is James Blake. The same can't be said for Pam Shriver, whose commentating overhead (buzz) sends him into (buzz buzz) a FIT. (http://youtube/Od5OjD4RMRI) Just so you don't miss a word, he says "It’s amazing you played tennis, I can still hear you. You wanna be an a** about it and act like I’m at fault?" Interestingly, James's Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe is quick to come to her defense.  As am I.  Nobody puts Pammy in a corner.  Later a dejected James talks about his knee which is still nagging him (buzz) and possibly retiring if it doesn't get better soon.

Another candidate for Queen duty is Maria Sharapova,  Besides being made royalty here in '04, she's as close to a princess as we have on Tour. Tall, blonde, tiny dog.  Plus she could buy and sell Her Majesty at this point. She brutalizes Anastasia Pivovarova (but not without screeches – and a pie chart announcing her Queen of the Decibel Derby – buzz).  She then follows it up with, wait for it, a princess wave. That was an audition people.  

A noisy but far less dramatic Day 2. Unless you were Fernando Verdasco, Sam Stosur or Marcos Baghdatis.  The only Queen they'll be seeing is a Dairy Queen when they wash up on U.S. shores.  


Tomorrow: Dunlop.  


Become a fan of the Sweet Spot


Day 1 - 6/21/2010 - 3:55pm PT

Was it Aristotle or Head & Shoulders that said, You never get a second chance to make a first impression?  As Day 1 of Wimbledon 2010 gets underway, all eyes are on each and every player, looking for clues to try and figure out what shape they're in, how far they might go towards winning the Grassy Slam (yeah, I'm workshopping that one).  

First up, Kim Clijsters. It was a year ago at the All England Club snatched her from her front porch swing (do they have front porch swings in Jersey?) to say, hey, wanna test out this new roof thing we've got going?  Fast forward and she's playing her first actual Wimbledon match in four years.  How would she do? Especially with that foot injury that made her miss the French Open? Simply, outstanding. First impression: she'll make it to the Round of 16. Will Justine Henin be there to join her?  (To answer your question, I've already pre-ordered my drool cup for that potential match-up.)  

Sadly, someone who won't be there is crafty vet Patty Schnyder, who ran out of spells against Y-J Chan to become the first player bounced from the tournament. First impression: retirement by the end of the year. Though she may have one last trick up her sleeve.  

No Illusion

Defending champ Roger Federer kicks things off on Centre Court.  What kind of shape is he in?  Shockingly, what should be a routine match against Alejando Falla quickly becomes anything but, and I'm not believing what I'm seeing.  First set to Alejandro. Jaw drops as the second set goes to Alejandro. At this point Lady Gaga is lodged in my brain as every groundie the Colombian hits is accompanied by song. "Don’t come to net, don't come to net, Alejandro! You blew break points, you blew break points, Alejandro!" I suddenly wonder if Fed's doing the same thing and that's the problem, if he's distracted picturing Falla in a machine gun bra.  After coming thisclose to completing the upset of the year, Falla coughs up the third and fourth sets and then rolls over and shows his belly in the fifth.  Roger admits afterward that this is a match he was a bit lucky to win, and it's hard not to agree. My first impression of Roger: Fallible. My first impression of the rest of the field: feeling like they have a real chance against him.  A nasty combination that could make for some seriously choppy waters en route to a 7th Wimbledon title.  

There's a blur on Court 1, and from the trail of sweat I can only surmise that that was Andy Roddick blitzing fellow American Rajeev Ram. First impression: He's over that 16-14 in the fifth loss from last year.  Either that or he's going to be taking it out on everyone in his path.  Either way, look out.  

Sad: French Open champ Francesca Schiavone makes a quick exit. Sadder: Ana Ivanovic meets the same fate. Saddest: Neither is particularly shocking.   

Actually, saddest is Venus Williams's outfit. No "illusion" at all!  I was hoping to see what the Wimbledon Fashion Police looked like, imaging them bum rushing her on court, wrestling her to the ground and throwing a tarp over her.  As it is, she merely looks great.  And plays better.  First impression: she'll reach her ninth Wimbledon final in 11 years.  

Justine Henin strolls out on court for her first Wimbledon appearance in three years.  Banished to Court 12, she quickly washes the taste of Bartoli out of her mouth by trouncing Anastasija Sevastova in straight sets.  First impression: that drool cup I ordered will not go to waste.

Night falls, forcing an end to…wait, what?  Right, the roof.  Olivier Rochus leads Novak Djokovic two sets to one. I know tennis is about adapting to conditions, but when has closing a roof ever helped anyone who was leading? (See: S. Williams d. Kuznetsova, '09 Aussie). Sure enough, Nole is clearly a fan of air conditioning and he takes it in five. First impression of Djokovic: He needs some serious pep in his step.  A little 5 Hour Energy and he could go deep. Otherwise, he'll be deep in something else.  First impression of the roof at night: Love it!  The big glowing orb in the dark, are you kidding?  Beam me up.  

For the third time today, an ATP top 5 player cheats death (oh, did I not mention Nikolay Davydenko?  Eh, he's used to it).   

First impression of Wimbledon 2010: BONKERS.  

Tomorrow: Rafa. Serena. Maria. Muzz.  The head explodes.  


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