Cirstea: A Wimbledon Evening To Remember

Sorana Cirstea (photo: Wimbledon video)

LONDON/WASHINGTON, July 2, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Sorana Cirstea did not panic when she let two match points slip away from her serving at 5-3 40-15 in the deciding set of her Wimbledon Championships second-round match against No. 12 seed Victoria Azarenka on No. 1 Court Thursday evening.

Instead, the Romanian did well to hold her nerves, regrouped after her serve was broken for the fifth time and broke Azarenka, again – also for the fifth time – eventually wrapping up a 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-4 victory in two hours and 19 minutes.

The 6,000-or-so fans who witnessed the 45th-ranked Cirstea’s finest hour as a professional – winning a Wimbledon match in come-from-behind fashion on The Championships’ second-biggest stage – responded by giving her a thunderous, appreciative ovation. The smile from Cirstea was big enough to light up the All England Club.

“I’ve been a professional since I was 16 years old,” said the 31-year-old Cirstea during her on-court interview that soon followed match point, “but this has been the best atmosphere I have ever seen on a court.”

Cirstea, who went nearly 13 years in between winning WTA titles, until she won a clay-court crown in Instanbul this spring and followed it up by reaching the title match at Strasbourg, then the round of 16 at Roland Garros, has risen nicely in the rankings after starting the year ranked outside the Top 80.

“It was the best match of the year for me and the first time I’ve beaten Vika. The people today helped me so much and I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a match like this,” Cirstea said.

“For us tennis players to have you guys in the stands – I know it’s been very difficult for everyone – but to actually play in a full crowd again it is absolutely special again and by far this is the best memory of my career.”

Next, Cirstea will play 338th-ranked British wild card Emma Raducanu, who on Thursday upset Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-4, to reach the third round in her first Wimbledon main draw. The Canadian-born Raducanu, whose parents are Romanian and Chinese, is the last British woman remaining in the singles draw.

Battle of wonderful backhands goes to Federer

Roger Federer‘s 7-6 (1), 6-1, 6-4 victory over Richard Gasquet on Centre Court Thursday evening in a battle of one-armed backhands – both whom took it to an art form – advanced the 39-year-old Swiss superhero to the third round at Wimbledon for the 18th time. It was the third time that Federer had faced the 35-year-old Frenchman at the All England Club, after a first-round match in 2006 and a semifinal in 2007. The common denominator for each Federer vs. Gasquet encounter? Federer has won without dropping a set.

“It’s always a pleasure playing against Richard,” Federer said after his 19th victory in 21 outings against Gasquet, in which he became the oldest man since Ken Rosewall in 1975 to make the round of 32. “I know Richard really well because we’ve played so many times. He’s got the most wonderful backhand, and after he ripped that one down the line I thought to myself: ‘If I can do even something a little similar to that I will be happy with myself’, so he really inspired me there. …

“I’m really happy with my level. Today was special.”

The sixth seed Federer’s victory was also his 18th straight against French opposition. Next, Federer will leave the French behind and take up competition against the British when he meets 29th seed Cameron Norrie on Saturday.

“Cam’s a good guy, he’s had a wonderful year, too, played great at Queen’s and he’s backed it up here. I’m happy for him,” Federer said during his on-court interview. Then, as only Roger can – and get away with it – he broke out into a big smile. Some would call it mischievous. “But enough now. He needs to go out, I need to go through.”

The crowd cheered. Federer smiled some more. All was well on Centre Court.

Angelique Kerber: Game, set, match.

On Thursday, Angelique Kerber and Sara Sorribes Tormo played the longest women’s match at this year’s Wimbledon thus far, three hours and 19 minutes. Kerber won 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 to move into the third round.

Thursday’s Wimbledon results

Friday’s Wimbledon order of play

Ashleigh Barty’s extraordinary Wimbledon outfit

Nick Kyrgios: Unfiltered, pt. 2

“Quotable …”

“I’m just trying to take it week by week, match by match. I think with tennis or with any sport, there’s always going to be distractions or things that are going to happen with different changes of conditions, different surfaces. You don’t like that one as much. I don’t know, something happens with a stringer. There are so many variables going on a lot of the time. I think I’ve done my best to stay – kind of push all that stuff aside – just focus on what I can do that day, what I can execute.”

– No. 29 seed Cameron Norrie, who has won 31 matches on tour this year and is one of three British men into the third round at Wimbledon for the first time since 1999.