After Nadal's loss, anything possible at Wimbledon
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- No matter what happens in Week 2, this Wimbledon will be remembered.
Most of all, for 11-time major champion Rafael Nadal's second-round defeat to a player ranked 100th -- a player who also lost two days later.
"This is not against Rafa, but it was nice to see it's still possible," Roger Federer said. "I think 15 years ago, you had matches like this so much more often on the faster surfaces, that a guy could catch fire and just run through you. Today, it's virtually impossible."
Nadal, Federer and top-ranked Novak Djokovic have combined to win 28 of the past 29 Grand Slam titles, and the last nine at the All England Club.
As action was set to resume Monday with all 16 men's and women's fourth-round matches after the middle Sunday's traditional day off, this much was certain: There will be a first-time Wimbledon men's finalist.
It could be No. 4 Andy Murray, who lost in the semifinals each of the past three years, including to Nadal in 2010 and 2011. Or No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a semifinalist last year.
Monday's matchups on the bottom half of the draw: Murray vs. No. 16 Marin Cilic, Tsonga vs. No. 10 Mardy Fish, 126th-ranked qualifier Brian Baker vs. No. 27 Philipp Kohlschreiber, and No. 7 David Ferrer vs. No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion who is the only member of that eight-man group with a Grand Slam title on his resume.
On the top half, Djokovic -- seeking to win his fifth title in the last seven majors -- and Federer -- aiming for a record-tying seventh Wimbledon championship -- are on course for a semifinal showdown.
The fourth-round pairings: Djokovic vs. Viktor Troicki, Federer vs. Xavier Malisse, No. 18 Richard Gasquet vs. No. 31 Florian Mayer, and No. 26 Mikhail Youzhny vs. Denis Istomin. Only Djokovic and Federer have won major championships; none of the other six has made so much as one Grand Slam final.
"I have been around the block, obviously, and I know how hard it is to, every day, beat the guy ranked 25, 65, 105. ... They all present their challenges," Federer said, adding that Nadal's earlier-than-expected exit "does give many other players great belief in playing us in the future."
Even 16-time major champion Federer found that out. A day after Nadal's loss, Federer dropped the first two sets of his third-round match ... before coming all the way back to win.
Those were only two of the surprising happenings during a wild Week 1. Really, what could Week 2 possibly have in store to equal what the first six days offered?
There was five-time champion Venus Williams' departure on Day 1; the only other time in 16 appearances at Wimbledon that she lost in the first round came during her debut in 1997 at age 17. Her younger sister, four-time champion Serena, is still around, but only barely. She pounded a tournament-record 23 aces to escape the third round with a 9-7 third-set victory.
As superb as both of the Williams siblings are, neither has pulled off what Serena's next opponent managed to do Saturday: a perfect set. No woman had ever won all 24 points in a set in a professional match -- and only one man had done it -- until 65th-ranked Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan began that way against 10th-seeded Sara Errani of Italy, who was the runner-up at the French Open.
"Hopefully I'll be able to win a point in the set," Serena Williams said, looking ahead and keeping a straight face. "That will be my first goal, and then I'll go from there."
On and on and on it went last week.
Baker, who wasn't even ranked a year ago because he was forced off tour for more than half a decade by a series of operations, continued his remarkable comeback. Fish picked up three victories in his first tournament in about 2 1/2 months after being treated for an accelerated heartbeat.
Another U.S. man, three-time Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick, wouldn't say whether he plans to be back after blowing a kiss to the Centre Court crowd after his third-round loss to Ferrer. And yet another, Sam Querrey, lost a 17-15 fifth set to Cilic after 5 1/2 hours, the second-longest match in tournament history.
Errani was on the good side of another oddity, when she and her second-round opponent, CoCo Vandeweghe of the U.S., were sent home at match point one evening because it was too dark to play. When they returned the next day, Vandeweghe double-faulted right away, allowing Errani to wrap up a victory after seven seconds of "action" -- and not a single swing of her racket.
There was more, too.
The tournament seemed to become enamored of its retractable roof, pulling it shut over Centre Court so much that defending champion Djokovic remarked: "I was a little bit surprised, when I saw sunshine, that the roof is closed. Obviously, they're relying on a forecast that I don't think is very reliable here."
Let's hope he's right about that last part, because the outlook called for a chance of rain Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tournament that takes a day off midway through. It's also the only one that schedules 16 matches on the second Monday.
In addition to Williams vs. Shvedova, the other matches in the bottom half of the women's draw are No. 2 Victoria Azarenka vs. No. 14 Ana Ivanovic, defending champion Petra Kvitova vs. No. 24 Francesca Schiavone, and No. 21 Roberta Vinci vs. Tamira Paszek.
On the top half, it's No. 1 Maria Sharapova vs. No. 15 Sabine Lisicki, No. 8 Angelique Kerber vs. four-time major champion Kim Clijsters in her last Wimbledon appearance, No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. 145th-ranked qualifier Camila Giorgi, and No. 17 Maria Kirilenko vs. No. 30 Peng Shuai.
"Everyone is playing everyone tough nowadays," Serena Williams said. "You can't underestimate anyone."
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)