After last Middle Sunday, Wimbledon resumes with fresh faces

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Coco Gauff of the US serves to Russia's Elena Vesnina during the women's singles second round match on day four of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Thursday July 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

WIMBLEDON – Wimbledon's traditional Middle Sunday of rest will disappear in 2022, as will the Manic Monday that follows it.

For one last time, the oldest Grand Slam tournament was quiet as Week 1 of this year's edition ended. And for one last time, Week 2 will begin with a bevy of action, the only major to schedule all 16 women's and men's fourth-round singles matches on the same day.

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"I think I will miss it, to be honest," 2018 champion Angelique Kerber said.

Get ready for a packed scheduled Monday that includes teenagers Coco Gauff and Emma Raducanu, No. 1 Ash Barty and Kerber in women's matches, along with Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, a total of eight of the top 10 seeds and 20-year-old American Sebastian Korda in men's matches.

It won't be the same moving forward, and Federer understands why the All England Club is changing its ways in this regard.

“Everybody wants more days. Look, more days means more revenue, more options, more this and that. I get it," he said. “I don’t think they did it only because of revenue. I think they just think it’s going with the times, as well.”

It's quite possible that the rest of the fortnight could end up being viewed as its own sort of referendum on the present and future of tennis.

That's because while there are representatives of the old guard who have multiple Grand Slam titles, including at the All England Club — Federer (20), Djokovic (19) and Kerber (three) — there truly are so many fresh faces.

Of the 32 singles players still in the brackets, 26 never have been to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon — and 20 are participating in the fourth round for the first time.

Korda, who faces No. 25 seed Karen Khachanov, is making his debut at Wimbledon, as is Ilya Ivashka, a 27-year-old from Belarus who takes on No. 7 Matteo Berrettini, a 2019 U.S. Open semifinalist who leads all remaining players with 60 aces.

Djokovic’s opponent, No. 17 Cristian Garin of Chile, and Federer’s, No. 23 Lorenzo Sonego of Italy, were a combined 0-5 at the All England Club until this year.

The other men’s matches Monday are No. 2 Daniil Medvedev vs. No. 14 Hubert Hurkacz, No. 4 Alexander Zverev vs. No. 16 Felix Auger-Aliassime, No. 5 Andrey Rublev vs. Marton Fucsovics, and No. 8 Roberto Bautista Agut vs. No. 10 Denis Shapovalov.

Bautista Agut was a semifinalist in 2019, the last time the tournament was played because of the cancellation a year ago amid the pandemic, and is the only man left other than eight-time champion Federer and five-time champion Djokovic to even have been to so much as one quarterfinal at Wimbledon.

Kerber, No. 23 Madison Keys and No. 19 Karolina Muchova are the only women with past quarterfinal experience at the place.

Kerber faces Gauff, a 17-year-old American who also made it to the fourth round in 2019 and is coming off her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Roland Garros last month.

“She’s really dangerous, especially on grass courts,” Kerber said. “I see the fire (in) her, as well.”

A key to Gauff's success is her serve: She is tied for the fastest by a woman during Week 1 at 121 mph and her 23 aces rank second only to Barty's 26.

Britain's Raducanu, a wild-card entry who is 18 and ranked 338th, is making her Grand Slam debut and appearing in only her second tour-level event of any sort. Other women at Wimbledon for the first time include 2019 French Open champion and Barty's opponent, 2021 French Open champ Barbora Krejcikova, No. 18 Elena Rybakina (who plays No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka) and Liudmila Samsonova (who plays No. 8 Karolina Pliskova).

The other women's matchups: Raducanu vs. Ajla Tomljanovic, Muchova vs. No. 30 Paula Badosa, Keys vs. Viktorija Golubic, and 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek vs. No. 21 Ons Jabeur.

Only three of the top 12 women in the WTA rankings will play Monday.

“The past couple of Slams, we have seen that there have been a lot of upsets ... and a lot of opportunities for really anyone to do well at any tournament,” said Keys, the 2017 U.S. Open runner-up. “It’s been great to watch.”

Note: The All England Club announced Sunday that Centre Court and No. 1 Court can be at full capacity as of Tuesday, when the quarterfinals begin.


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