Reasons for optimism
Andy Murray has the edge over Jo Wifried-Tsonga... on paper at least, says Gerry Williams.
Last Updated: 30/06/10 10:19am
So today it's the men's quarter-finals and we British may need something to bolster our optimism or store our anxiety over Andy Murray. Here are a couple of statistics that might help.
He is the only player in the men's draw not to have dropped a set so far. His opponent, the Frenchman Jo Wilfried-Tsonga, has conceded the most games so far out of all the quarter-finalists, almost twice as many as Murray's 38.
But be warned. If ever there was a big new personality waiting to enter the Wimbledon stage it's young Monsieur Tsonga or 'Ali' as they call him at home. He's 'Ali' because of his resemblance to Muhammad Ali.
French tennis has searched for a new romantic hero since Yannick Noah, the French Open champion in 1983 who decided to morph into a pop singer. He's made it so successfully incidentally that he's soon to give a concert at the massive Stade de France.
The next thing you need to know is Tsonga's record against Murray. They have played each other on three previous occasions, always on hard court and Murray leads by two matches to one. They have also both been in the Australian Open final, although not against each other.
As for other personal rivalries among the quarter-finalists today - Roger Federer leads Tomas Berdych 8-2, Rafael Nadal leads Robin Soderling 4-2 and Novak Djokovic leads Yen-Hsun Lu 1-0. (He's the Taiwanese ranked 82 in the world who put paid to Andy Roddick's buccaneering ways the day before).
Yesterday inside the first two hours on the two main show courts, two of the favourites for the women's championships were sent packing from the quarter-finals.
Of all people the first to go was Venus Williams; seeded second this time and with five Wimbledon singles titles already in her trophy cabinet at home.
She lost scrappily 6-2, 6-3 to Tsvetana Pironkova, who thus became the first Bulgarian woman to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals in modern times. They have no grass courts in Bulgaria, but clearly they've heard of the old adage, where's there's a will, there's a way.
Afterwards Pironkova said "Wimbledon is like a religion to me" and added she thought it was the same for the other women's players.
Something in Pironkova's memory bank had fuelled her confidence. She had beaten Venus in the third round of the US Open four years ago. The thought might have bothered Venus too who often looked disconnected and uncertain.
Pironkova comes from good sporting stock as well. Her father's a canoe champion, her mother a competitive swimmer. It counts you know.
The other surprise was the defeat of Belgium's US Open champion Kim Clijsters by Vera Zvonareva - the 10th Russian girl to have made it the Wimbledon quarter-finals.
We wondered if Kim might have suffered a reaction to her emotionally-charged win over her friend Justine Henin the day before. But she thought not, or at least she wasn't willing to share her thoughts.
One of the Williams sisters did win through to the semi-finals. Serena beat the Chinese girl Na Li 7-5, 6-3.
And so the women's semi-final line-up is Serena Williams against Petra Kvitova and Pironkova against Zvonareva. It's all coming nicely to the boil.