The Wimbledon mixed doubles draw was released on Wednesday revealing several fun teams including Victoria Azarenka and Jamie Murray, Ashleigh Barty and Thanasi Kokkinakis, and Elina Svitolina and Nicolas Mahut,
Azarenka, who lost her singles second round to Karolina Pliskova on Wednesday, is excited about teaming up with Murray, who is the defending mixed doubles champion at Wimbledon, having won alongside Martina Hingis last year. The reason behind Azarenka’s excitement is not necessarily about Murray’s doubles skills though.
“Well, I’m very much looking forward to have English people on our side and being hopefully a crowd favourite for the first time in England,” Azarenka said with a laugh.
“Jamie is an amazing player. To see how much he progressed over the years and making a big name for himself, it’s really cool. So I’m excited to play with him. I think it’s going to be our first time. My memory is gone,” she adds with a smile.
“But he actually asked me. I was thinking about doubles or mixed doubles or something to play, and he reached out to my coach and I said yes.”
KEEPING IT SIMPLE
Over in the small interview rooms, Bernard Tomic was talking to the press after his first round win over fellow lucky loser Hubert Hurkacz.
The Aussie has not been in a chatty mood as of late but we did manage to squeeze a few answers from him on Monday.
Tomic, who reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon as a qualifier when he was just 18 years old back in 2011, has slipped to 184 in the rankings.
Last year at Wimbledon, Tomic left us with a bombshell of a press conference in which he said he was bored, admitted to gamesmanship, confessed he didn’t have enough respect for the sport, added that he felt “super old”, then said winning trophies doesn’t satisfy him anymore.
While his honesty was admirable, his confessions were quite shocking.
Asked if he felt like he was in a different place now compared to then, Tomic said: “I’m always the same, man, wherever I am.”
Tomic has been playing well this grass season, and can be a real threat against Kei Nishikori in their second round on Thursday. He’s a dangerous floater in the draw many would like to avoid but he’s not thinking too far ahead – in fact, he says he’s not thinking at all.
Asked what would make Wimbledon a successful tournament for him, the 25-year-old said: “I’m not sure, I just play every match, I don’t think anymore. I never really thought, about winning titles, like I said just playing, it’s just tennis.”
Well as long as it’s working for him, no need to start thinking now, right?
PAGING DR. BUZARNESCU
By now, many people are familiar with Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu, who rose from outside the top-500 at the start of 2017, to her current career-high ranking of No. 28 in stunning speed. Many also know that during her time away from tennis dealing with injuries, she completed a PHD in Sports Science.
The 30-year-old, who is into the Wimbledon third round, says several players joke with her in the locker room and call her ‘doctor’ – although she wouldn’t reveal names – and that the physios on tour are always keen to learn from her and want to know more about her degree.
As umpires at Wimbledon refer to players as Miss, or Mrs, before saying their surnames, would Buzarnescu like to be referred to as ‘doctor’ during her matches?
“I think ‘Miss’ is fine. That’s something that is outside tennis, what I did. Of course it’s something about tennis in sports science but just it stays out,” she said.
That’s a shame because ‘Game, Dr. Buzarnescu’ has quite a nice ring to it!
Vitalia Diatchenko knows exactly how many injuries she has had and how many surgeries she has gone through, but after defeating fellow Russian Maria Sharapova in a marathon first round at Wimbledon on Tuesday, she must feel like it was all worth it.
“I don’t want to tell you because you’re going to be shocked, guys, how many I did,” Diatchenko said when asked to give details about all the injuries and surgeries she had to endure.
“I can tell you the last one I did, it was last April, so one year ago, this time, I wasn’t playing tennis at all. I started in August, September last year, then I got another problem with my back. I think I will write a book after I finish playing so everyone understands how much I passed.”
The 27-year-old, ranked 132 in the world, came back from a set and 2-5 down in the second, and twice broke back in the decider to defeat the 24th-seeded Sharapova 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3), 6-4 in a 3hr 8min battle.
Diatchenko, a qualifier who had never won a main draw at Wimbledon, reached the second round of a Grand Slam for just the third time in her career, and first time since French Open 2015.
She has had a career plagued by injuries and said she hoped she would get the opportunity once more to face a top player on a big show court.
Her wish was granted against Sharapova on Tuesday, and Diatchenko was grateful she walked off Court No. 2 as the victor. Her next opponent is American Sofia Kenin.
“Well at least I wasn’t injured today. Okay I got some problems in the beginning of the match with my leg, but it was good to feel healthy and to play matches and finish matches before I had experiences I went to big show courts against good girls and I just couldn’t play my best because I was coming back from injuries. And I remember the nightmare against Serena at the US Open. So finally I could show my game, I’m happy with that,” said Diatchenko.
“I had a dream to play again against Serena or Maria and I had a dream to be healthy, and it happened. And of course for me, these are players who I was looking forward when I was a junior when I was younger, and of course I’m happy I won today.”
On her part, Sharapova concedes that she couldn’t summon her best on Tuesday.
“I definitely had several chances in the match. Although not playing my best tennis, I opened up a few doors and was a couple points away from winning this match. Kept, you know, doing that in the third, as well. But just, you know, sometimes you put yourself in a better or winning position, and you don’t finish through. That was the case today,” said the five-time major champion.
“I would have loved to have played Birmingham. I felt I made that mistake of playing far too many tournaments in consecutive weeks. The clay season was a lot of matches, much more than I’ve played in a really long time. Yeah, it would have been great to play an event, but I had to make a decision for my body and for my longevity rather than to go and play a few matches.”
Rafael Nadal began his assault on a third Wimbledon title — and first since 2010 — with a straight-sets victory over Dudi Sela on Tuesday.
The world No. 1, seeded second at the All England Club, defeated Sela 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 in under two hours, to set up a second round against Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin.
Fellow Spaniard, defending champion Garbine Muguruza was clinical in her 6-2, 7-5 opening round victory over local wildcard Naomi Broady, while two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was shocked by Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4, 4-6, 6-0.
“Probably I wanted too much again. I just made a joke that probably I going to skip the Grand Slams for the next years. I will see how everything is going,” said Kvitova with a smile.
“When I was kind of younger, I played better on the Grand Slams than the other tournaments. Now is the time when I’m playing better on the other tournaments than the Grand Slams. So I make a promise that I going to be very patient and I going to try to break it again for the other side.”
It was a solid day for the Brits and not just because of England’s last-16 success in the FIFA World Cup, as Johanna Konta and Kyle Edmund both started their campaigns with wins.
Watch highlights from day two in the video above and read up on some of the more lighthearted moments at the Championships in Reem Abulleil’s diary.