The Championships Wimbledon has gained a sense of notoriety for delivering big upsets to its fans over the past few years. Aptly titled by a tennis columnist as the 'Stakhovsky effect' (named after Sergiy Stakhovsky's famous win over Roger Federer in 2013), the phenomenon of a relative outsider upstaging a top-ranked player has become increasingly popular with the spectators, and this year's tournament has not disappointed so far.
Amongst the most high-profile stars whose campaign came to an untimely end included women's second seed Naomi Osaka, former ladies singles champion Garbine Muguruza and the trio of next-gen stars on the men's tour: Stefano Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, and Denis Shapovalov. And yet, these upsets made for great stories for their opponents, some of whom notched up the biggest wins of their careers.
Here is a list of the top performers from the round of 128 at this year's tournament.
Fabbiano takes out Tsitsipas
Thomas Fabbiano would not have been thrilled to see his name next to Stephano Tsitsipas in the draw, a player to whom he lost at last year's championships in straight sets. The 30 year-old, however, had different plans this year.
Fabbiano came out determined to perform better and managed to get off to a good start, winning the first set on the back of his serving abilities. He continued to serve well as the match progressed (winning a staggering 80% of the points behind the first serve) and stayed in the hunt even when trailing.
Tsitsipas, on the other hand, looked out of sorts as he struggled with his game. It did not help matters that his opponent was striking the ball as well as he was on the day, making him run around the entire breadth of the court.
Fabbiano's win is his first against a top-10 player and it comes at an interesting point in his career. It would be interesting to see how his campaign progresses from here on.
Hsieh destroys Ostapenko
It is not the win, but the nature of it that makes its noteworthy. There is little doubt around Hsieh's ability to play well, especially on grass, but the former French Open Jelena Ostapenko was looking dangerous coming into The Championships this year.
Ostapenko showed signs of revival on grass in the build to SW19 as he looked hungrier for success after underwhelming ends to her campaigns at Eastbourne and Birmingham. And yet, Hsieh needed just over an hour to send her hard-hitting opponent packing.
Hsieh totally outmaneuvered Ostapenko with her characteristic crafty shot-making. The Latvian was made to cover every corner of the court even as she continued to struggle with her own groundstrokes, making too many errors.
Hsieh was also especially good on the return, taking complete advantage of the weaker second serve and winning over a mind-boggling 70% of the return points. With a big win under her belt already, the Taiwanese can start looking for another deep run at her favorite Slam.
Osaka, Zverev shown the door
Other upsets, Yulia Putintseva and Jiri Vesely's wins over Naomi Osaka and Alexander Zverev in particular, more experts saw coming. Neither of the two, more-fancied opponents, were in top form coming off of forgettable build-ups to Wimbledon. Add to that their very capable opponents, and the upsets were always on the cards.
Other seeds sail through
The top four seeds, barring Roger Federer, had straightforward wins over their opponents. The Swiss second seed completed a comeback after a bit of a blip in the first set against South Africa's Llyod Harris. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Kevin Andersen defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber, Yuichi Sugita, and Pierre-Hugues Herbert respectively.
Other hopefuls including Kei Nishikori (seeded 8th), John Isner (9th), and Marin Cilic (13th) also come through in straight sets. Fabio Fognnini (12th) and Nikoloz Basilashvili (18th) battled hard and came out in five sets. Former finalist Milos Raonic (15th) ended India's Prajensh Gunneswaran's hopes in straight sets.
Two-time former champion Petra Kvitova (seeded 6th) led the list of seeds who came through in the opening encounters of the ladies draw. Facing a potentially tricky opponent in Ons Jabeur, Kvitova looked dangerous, especially on her returns, and sealed a keenly-contested match in 60 minutes. Fellow countrywoman Karolina Pliskova (3rd) and the newly crowned world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty (1st) also registered straight set wins.
Also exuding confidence in their respective first round wins were defending champion Angelique Kerber, seven-time winner Serena Williams (11th), former world no. 1 Simona Halep (7th), and last year's semifinalist Julia Georges (18th).
Nick Kyrgios vs Jordan Thompson
Watch the highlights of this one for the showmanship of the two players involved and an absolutely-riveting third set tie-breaker. A thrilling 5-setter that had some exquisite shot-making from both Kyrgios and Thompson, this was definitely one of the best matches from the first-round action.
Alsion Riske vs Donna Vekic
This match was played at a very high level throughout its two-and-hour-hour run with the players hitting a total of 73 winners between them. A late night-thriller, this was a grasscourt classic with big serves and both Riske and Vekic rushing to the net every chance they got. The match also involved a little bit of history, as a part of it was played under the newly-installed roof on Court One.
- Mandy Minella led the field of players who made life difficult for top seeds. Minella was solid from the baseline in her match against foruth seed Kiki Bertens on Center Court, but made errors on crucial junctions to hand over a straight-set win to the Dutchwoman. Others who gave the seeds a run for their money were England's James Ward (against Nikoloz Basilashvili), South Korea's Kwon Soon-woo (against Karen Khachanov), Ana Bogdan (against Johana Konta) and Zhu Lin (against Karolina Pliskova)
- Former Champion Maria Sharapova retired hurt in her first round match against Pauline Paramantier.
- Venus Williams shared a warn handshake after losing out to her 15 year-old opponent Cori Gauff.
- Alexander Zverev gave a candid interview after his first round loss, saying that his confidence has suffered a lot in these past few months.
- Among top seeds, French Open finalist Dominic Thiem and former champion Garbine Muguruza also made first-round exits at this year's championships.
- The Court 1 roof was closed for the first time after installation for the Riske-Vekic match to loud cheering from the crowd.
- A tennis ball fountain has been installed at the All England Club to spread awareness on the importance of clean potable water.
- Best quote:
Everybody says, 'Enjoy the journey, it's what it's all about' And you are like 'What the hell are you talking about?' It's painful, It's miserable, how do you enjoy that? And apparently, you can. -Victoria Azarenka, former semifinalist.
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